Why the Theory of Personal Responsibility Is Irresponsible

I’m about to make a claim that many of you will take umbrage with. How do I know? Because I’ve made this claim to every person, group, or audience I’ve ever stood before, and that’s precisely what’s happened (at first). In spite of that fact, here goes: There’s no such thing as personal responsibility.

In other words, you don’t possess the personal power to control or coordinate your thoughts, choices, or behaviors. Taking umbrage? If yes, it’s cool, just consider these simple questions: Do you control the millions of processes that are taking place within your body right now? Do you control your mood? Do you control your reflexes? Do you control whether or not you cry at the movies?

If you’re honest, the answer to all of these questions is no.

So, then, why are you living under the false assumption that it’s you who’s personally responsible for your thoughts, choices, and behaviors? I mean, is it actually possible that you’re not responsible for or don’t control 99.99 percent of what takes place within you, yet you do control .01 percent? Seriously?

Actually, I don’t blame you at all. “Control what you can control” is a familiar mantra thrown around in virtually all coaching and self-help circles today—with attitude, effort, positivity, and body language being among the so-called “controllables.” Yet, the surprising truth is: Those who buy into the notion that they’re personally responsible for their comportment and actions are the ones most bound-up and sullen. They’re the ones whose behavior is most out of control.

And here’s the reason:

The human experience appears to flow between clarity and clutter; between wholeness and separateness; between humility and ego; between non-duality and duality; between the impersonal and personal (and it’s normal for it to appear this way). From the personal—or standpoint of the separate self—we feel insecure, alone, and distinct from the world. From the impersonal—or standpoint of the True Self (consciousness, God)—there are no distinctions between ourselves and the world. Now, when the separate self shows up, those who don’t know that it’s normal will attempt to manually find their way back to a safe feeling of wholeness and connection. But since human beings don’t possess the power to shortcut the human experience, in trying to do so they actually get in the way of what would have occurred intuitively (had they not manually intervened). That is, in trying to exert personal responsibility or control over something that can’t be controlled, they obstruct their intuitive ability to return to the impersonal standpoint of the True Self from which everyone, and I mean everyone, will behave in concert with the universe or greater good.

Remember: Sometimes you’ll feel separate (that’s normal) and sometimes you won’t (that’s normal, too). One feeling is not better than the other, so trying to choose between the two is never in your best interest. As the title of this article suggests: Adopting the false theory of personal responsibility or burden breathes life into the separate self—who will always behave irresponsibly.

Thank you for reading, Garret