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9 Pillars of Balanced Responsibility

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

Let's talk about personal responsibility.

Did you shut down yet?

Often when people hear personal responsibility, the brain turns off, because it equates it to blame. None of us wants to be blamed. With blame comes punishment. That's no fun. Blame can trigger resentment. That's no fun! No wonder we don't want to address personal responsibility!

This week, I'd like to propose that there are ways to live personal responsibility that don't suffer the costs of blame such as shame, guilt and punishment.

Wouldn’t you like to live a life of less blame, shame, guilt and punishment?

In a sometimes chaotic world, we look for some form of justice to help us restore order and care for our lives and our communities.

However, did you know that there are different forms of justice? Where many practice punitive justice (punitive - punishment), more and more communities, offices and legal structures are moving to restorative justice (where you restore and feed the core values).

How can we live less blame, shame or guilt? How can we live restorative justice?

This week's Tip For Sanity addresses these questions by exploring the 9 Pillars of Balanced Responsibility. This dense subject is truncated for this article, however these 9 Pillars are extremely powerful.

Together, these 9 Pillars help resolve issues, build win-win solutions, decrease resentment, and create a climate ripe for restorative justice.

These 9 Pillars are:

  • Avoid the Victim Triangle

  • Remember - You Are Responsible For Your Joy

  • Be Able To Respond

  • Remember Everything’s Connected

  • Remember The Futility of Blame

  • Practice No-Fault Apologies

  • Don't Correct or Reprimand - Give Direction

  • Consider The Innocence of Type Dynamics

  • Consider The Innocence of Imperfect Nature

9 Pillars of Balanced Responsibility

Avoid the Victim Triangle - In previous articles, we explored many ways to live a value-based, doable-request, SORTTing It Out kind of life. But when we are hurt and don't have value-based ways to address our pain, it's easy to drift into the victim triangle -- victim, perpetrator and rescuer. Who is "responsible"? Who is "accountable"? Who is to blame? But the victim triangle can be as destructive to our humanity as the Bermuda Triangle. Remember that those questions are the hurting heart, not yet skilled in how to live a values-based life. What is the core value that's hurting? How can we releasefully care for that hurt, in ways that make doable requests to feed the underlying needs? How can we address the core values of the "perpetrator" in ways that still respects their innocence? (more on innocence, below). Instead of vilifying and punishment, try SORTTing It Out.

Remember - You Are Responsible For Your Joy – As infants, our caregivers may have had some skill to anticipate our needs for food, a diaper change, or sleep. However, as we get older, that changes. We grow more complex, and it’s harder and harder for most other people to anticipate our needs. However, you can be aware of your needs, your innermost feelings, and what you yearn for. Some of us are still getting better at observing and naming these, but ultimately only you can get there. It's up to you to communicate your inner world to others and make doable requests. While others can have curiosity toward you, we cannot expect them to mindread. If you have made requests and tried to build bridges and it hasn't worked, then it's up to you to choose another strategy that feeds you better. If you stand up well for yourself, others will do a better job of standing up for you too.

Be Able To Respond - Do you often feel overwhelmed with a long list of things you are doing to care for others? Do you believe you are responsible for others? Do you rush to fix problems for others before they ask you to? Parents especially often fall into the trap of believing that the weight of everyone else's success and joy is on their shoulders, because they shepherd children into adulthood. However, instead of making yourself wholly responsible for everyone and everything else, try just being able to respond. One of my mentors, Marshall Rosenburg, used to like to say, "Don't just do something, stand there." Be present, centered, grounded, and ready to assist if and when someone asks for it. Help others around you to grow their own ability to feed their own needs in multiple ways. Show them how they can make better requests. Everyone is responsible for their own joy. As long as you are able to respond compassionately to others' requests in win-win ways, problems will fix themselves. It’s not all on you.

Remember Everything’s Connected - Every action leads to another action that leads to another action. For a funny example of how everything is connected, listen to the lyrics in the song from "Into The Woods - Your Fault". Everyone has a hand in everything that happens. Own it. When we deny our participation in our lives, it weakens us. When someone denies anything is ever related to their own choices, it's insane making for others around them, because we cannot build win-win solutions when one person is in denial about their part of the dance. However, when we take an objective look at our choices, we are empowered to learn and grow, we can notice the core values we were feeding by our actions, and find ways to make better decisions next time. Here's an example. Josh was talking about a fight he had with his ex-wife's new husband. "I participated in it," he said, "The dude was talking shit, yes, but I could have walked away and I didn't. I stood there and let it escalate." This is authentic personal responsibility. Being self-aware and authentic are cornerstones of clarity, power and choice.

Remember The Futility of Blame - When people feel blame, they get scared and or defensive, and then all problem-solving stops. People lie to avoid blame. People are so afraid of blame, that often hear criticism, blame and attack when there isn’t any. We can't resolve problems this way. Instead, let’s try restorative justice. Find the needs, attend to the emotional inflammation with presence and care, then make doable requests. By doing this, we can generate resolution.

Practice No-Fault Apologies - Apologies are often avoided because they are used as leverage to put others down, because they "admitted fault". As a result, we have a communication breakdown because no one can work out win-win solutions if parties feel the need to hide the truth of their thoughts and decisions. We need a culture that can apologize without fearing punishment. Likewise, sometimes we do authentically feel sad when one of our actions does not meet our own needs or values, but then we beat ourselves up about our choices, even if we did the best we could. We need a way to grieve that doesn't result in self-belittling. We are imperfect humans who make mistakes. We need room to learn. Sometimes our choices, innocently, inadvertently, impact others differently than we would like. We can own our responsibility in caring ways, without needing punishment to learn our lessons, if we practice "no-fault apologies" - for example: "I'm so sorry about being late, that's not the kind of respect I want to be showing you. I have changed my calendar so it won't keep happening. May I please buy you lunch to make it up to you?" This addresses the values and care, takes action to resolve the issue and offers a way to restore good will, without the dance of blame or lengthly self-defending explanations that overlook the others' needs and values. "I am really, really sorry that I forgot our anniversary, that's not the way I want to show you I treasure you. I set a phone alarm so it never happens again. I feel terrible. Could I please make it up to you by pampering you this weekend?" "I see I made assumptions that weren't accurate about you. I'm committed to looking out for my assumptions out in the future, and asking more questions. This is new for me, would you please help me while I'm learning this?"

Don't Correct or Reprimand - Give Direction - As children, we may have been scolded instead of guided, “Don’t eat those cookies!” “Stop that!” “Behave!” The problem with correction, reprimand and scolding is that it says what we don’t want but fails to provide guidance about what we do want. “Put the cookie down until after dinner. Here, if you’re hungry, have some carrot.” People cannot do a don't. Communicate what you do want, not what you don't want. Instead of, “Don't be late,” try, “Please text me in advance if you are not going to be on time.” Make doable requests. This cares for your needs while also caring for the other.

Consider The Innocence of Type Dynamics - in an earlier article we explored respecting differences in type. It can be easy to judge others for not doing what we think they should do, without accounting for the fact that we are all built differently. It’s possible that the other person does not share our culture, our experiences, or our capacities. On the spectrum of Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic types, a kinesthetic person is not weaker because they are not visual, they just have different strengths. We each have strengths and limitations. No humans are omniscient and omnipotent. Sometimes, our limitations and limited resources or a crisis of imagination can push us to make regrettable choices. How do we live with our naturally diverse type dynamics and the limited nature of Human Nature, while still honoring our (and others') innocence, so that we may build bridges instead of perpetuating resentment and anger? It will help us to have win-win conversations if we recognize the innocence of types different than our own.

Consider The Innocence of Imperfect Nature - Sometimes people get hurt for innocent reasons. Misunderstandings happen. Unexpected events occur. Toes get stepped on inadvertently. By considering what may be innocent in the other, we can replace anger, blame and vilification with moderation, care, inclusion for everyone's needs, and win-win requests for what we want. This habit can shift us out of anger and into doable requests, resolution, and relief. To consider others' innocence, ask these questions: What core values may the other have been trying to feed by their choices? How can we ask for our values in a way that still holds the other innocent?

In Summary

These pillars are not omnipotent. Sometimes you need to just grab the child running absent-mindedly into traffic, or stop the mass shooter immediately. However, coupled with curiosity, speaking truth to power (by naming core values and doable requests), and protective use of minimum force, these Pillars build an extremely powerful foundation toward a culture less violent in blame, shame and punitive justice and more life-serving in restorative justice.

They help to restore sanity in a skittish, fearful world.

Being able to live these pillars when we are upset takes practice. And if you make three requests and the other person is not integrating them, it may be time for a mediation, or if that fails, the law of 2 feet.

The 9 Pillars help create workable boundaries for how we can meet each other in the middle even when we have different actions, needs and values.

Living these 9 Pillars can help to maintain harmony, resolve issues when they arise, and replace feelings of resentment with win-win solutions.

What 1 choice might you make, this week, to help you practice the 9 Pillars of Balanced Responsibility?

Walking the Talk

How can you benefit from this week's Tip for Sanity? Here are a few questions to help you get the most out of it:

1. Describe - What is the practice described here? (Just the facts, Jack - Who, What, When, Where, How)

2. Pick one area where you can see applying something here to your life.

3. In the situation from question 2, what core value or type difference may have been a part of the choices that were made?

4. In the situation from question 2, how might you combine your core values with the core values of other, A+B, to make a win-win request? A no-fault apology? Direction instead of reprimand?

5. Pros/Cons - What are some of the benefits of this practice? What are some of the drawbacks?

6. Compare/Contrast - How can parts of restorative justice help improve our current justice system?

7. Where else might you use these 9 Pillars to increase sanity in your life? In your relationships? At work? In your community?

8. How and where might you invite others to use these 9 Pillars with you?

9. What do you value as your biggest take away from this week's Tip For Sanity?

For more help with this tip, or if you’d like a free phone consultation toward an ongoing coaching relationship, call Maya toll-free +1 (800) 889-3829 Tue-Sat 1-4pmET or click here to book an appointment.


Maya Gail Taylor's work with more than 10K clients as a consultant, coach certification school owner, wellness coach, tech developer, author and human evolution trainer has earned her more than 500 LinkedIn endorsements. She trained extensively with Marshall Rosenburg, David Deida, Ken Wilber, Newfield Network, BayNVC, Integral Institute and many others, while delivering her own body of work called "The Integrated Approach" (TIA), a meta-catalogue of skills and technology supporting the evolution of human consciousness through psychographic awareness, balancing, empathy and a 10-point integrated emotional intelligence informed by needs-consciousness and the transpersonal. To learn more about this method, follow LIFTnibbles on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

In sessions with Maya, you can trust you will get care, confidentiality and extraordinary results.

Click here to schedule a session or call +1 (800) 889-3829 Tue-Sat 1-4pmET.

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