“Every therapist knows that the crucial first step in therapy is the patient’s assumption of responsibility for his or her predicament. As long as one believes that one’s problems are caused by some force or agency outside oneself, there is no leverage in therapy. If, after all, the problem lies out there, then why would one change oneself?”
— IRVIN D. YALOM, M.D.
Everything regarding the subject of change relies on the principle alluded to above. Can we see our own volitional sense of involvement in every activity of life? And, if we are involved, can we see what only we can do in order to achieve a different desired result?
Only we can see it, if we, if we, must change,
If only we will agree, then our lives we’ll rearrange,
Life transformations are all about what it is we own,
Only when we take responsibility can we be grown.
Any of us can change, anytime, but it’s up to us; we must take responsibility for what we alone can control. Nobody will step in to help us if there’s no role or responsibility for them. Many times the space for change is with us alone. We can blame no other issue outside of ourselves. We alone are the stakeholder with sole influence.
And this is particularly pertinent regarding our role for change in our relationships; when conflict arises, to see our portion of responsibility and be ready to move toward the other party.
The People Who Never Change Versus Those That Do
What the Old Testament called ‘stiff-necked’ we know to be stubbornness, and stubbornness, borne on the wings of pride, is a stumbling block for many. They cannot see their own fault, and therefore they cannot grow; they cannot change. This is not to say they can never change, for anyone can become humbled, but it is so much easier if we will choose to humble ourselves.
God is the Guide of this humbling process. His love convicts us to want better outcomes in life. God’s love wants the best possible outcomes and this love compels us to persevere. But it’s about taking responsibility for all the things we can do to institute or initiate change.
The people who change are those who have gotten over their propensity to be ‘stiff-necked’. They see a bigger picture where they, themselves, feature exactly as they do – as a bit player. Everyone, bar God, is a bit player. Everyone has a stake in life and everyone’s stake is equally important to them; as it is to us.
The person who changes takes their share of the responsibility – and perhaps a little more when initiating – is a true change agent. They exemplify grace. The overall outcome is more important to them than a win here and a win there.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.