A very wise person once told me there are only two fundamental ways to live our lives. We can take full responsibility for every choice and every decision we have made that led to, and created, the life we are living. Or we can head in the other direction and waste our life blaming our caregivers and the traumatic life experiences they failed to protect us from in childhood. The first choice empowers and supports our authenticity and autonomy as a person; the second stunts our growth and leaves us whining and powerless.
Authenticity is Achieved When We Take Full Responsibility for Our Life
It took me well into my adult life to fully embrace the simple wisdom of his words. For many years I rehearsed my “sad life story”; the story that I’d created for myself that essentially blamed my entire childhood for the lack of happiness and success I was able to experience in life. Looking back at that time in my life, the most frightening insight is the realization of just how totally unaware I was that my sad story was such a life limiting and dis-empowering illusion.
It was during my education to become a mental health counselor that I had the opportunity to watch a training video by family therapist Virginia Satir and heard the words that woke me to the reality that I was unconsciously living the life of a victim. She said “until we understand that life is impartial, that life just is, that life just happens, we will never see the simple reality that the life we are currently living was created by us; not by others; not by fate; not by chance”. Her message was simple. We are all living the life that we have chosen to create for ourselves. In other words, the life I was living had little to do with my childhood. I had created it one choice and one decision at a time. And that included all the choices and decisions I had failed to make. When I realized she was voicing the same wisdom my friend had shared with me so many years earlier, it was a powerful awakening for me.
As I learned to take responsibility for the life I was living I had many opportunities to experience how difficult it is to live an authentic life. When we attempt to live our lives trapped inside the illusions we have created inside our own mind, we’re not only powerless to create the life we have dreamed about living, we also tend to create a lot of pain and frustration for ourselves. I’ve learned over the years the only way to have a successful and happy life is when I have the courage to grow in self-awareness, unpack the illusions that have kept me powerless, and then accept full responsibility for the life I am living.
I understand that my sad story illusions are simply primitive ego beliefs from childhood that distort reality. I have learned, usually the hard way, that when I have a reality distorting belief at the base of my life, it is virtually impossible to be happy or successful. Stated differently, when our beliefs distort reality, it is all but impossible to embrace reality and become the true, authentic self we were born to be. The use of sad story beliefs that distort reality are unconsciously used by almost all of us in our every day lives. They lead us deeper and deeper into the false self our ego has created for us. The self we think others want us to be. The life we think others created for us. The self that blames others for the life we are living. When we choose to live the unconscious life of a false self, we are destined to create pain for ourselves, and others.
If our goal is to live an authentic life, it means we have to become self-aware and learn to awaken our consciousness. Until we do, our ability to grow psychologically or spiritually will be all but impossible. Authentic growth is achieved only when we grow in self-awareness. And all growth in self-awareness is by definition authentic spiritual growth. To live an authentic life we must embrace the courage to take full responsibility for the life we have chosen to live. Only then will we begin to grow into the person we were meant to be; a fully alive, fully authentic self.
It was that experience early in my psychotherapy training that more than any other awakened me to my life purpose, and offered me the insight that opened the door into my own authenticity. After teaching and writing for over twenty-five years as a psychotherapist and life coach on the importance of awakening to the presence of our inner-child’s primitive ego consciousness, I have no doubt that the life I have created for myself is the life I was meant to live.
The path to authenticity in life; the path that leads us toward our life purpose; is a path that emerges only when we have the courage to take full responsibility for our lives.
by Dick Rauscher©