Recently we finished teaching a six week staff group on relational health. Among the feedback we got was a suggestion that we also tackle the topic of ownership. Succinctly put, “the more people take ownership of their lives and situations (rather than passivity or entitlement) the better.” Thanks, Tom.
In a recent repost I defined mental health as the degree to which one was willing to take responsibility for one’s own life. I have been realizing that we as counseling professionals are very good at searching for indicators that connect the past to the present and predict possible outcomes in a person’s life. However, real success in therapy comes when a person’s awareness of their underlying emotional influencers turns into positive changed behavior. And maturity comes when a person is willing to accept the realities in their lives and stop blaming others. In other words, they take ownership of their lives no matter what they were handed by their circumstances.
Ownership means abandoning a victim stance and instead adopting one of personal power and responsibility. Instead of expecting that someone else will solve my problems, I take positive action towards that end goal. If I expect that someone else should rescue me from my challenging circumstances, I am surrendering my life to a totally unknown outcome. I am at risk of becoming stuck and possibly depressed or angry. You will notice that I did not include fear as a risk. Fear and anxiety always accompanies ownership. It is a certainty.
We often talk about “family of origin” issues in counseling. Sometimes a client will realize that their emotional triggers or maladaptive behaviors come from the family they grew up in and use that as an excuse to blame and stay stuck. It is likely that they were loved and raised as best a parent knew how, even if poorly or hurtfully. There are situations where this isn’t true, but the majority of the time it is.
Suggested steps for taking ownership:
- Investigate the major influential events in your life (“earthquake” events)
- Connect the dots – make any necessary connections to those events (where events produced losses)
- Decide not to surrender and be controlled by negative life events.
- Grieve any losses and repent of any sins
- Reinterpret your life through the lens of God’s grace
- Activate your power in a positive manner (take action with courage)