There is a pervasive sore that has slowly spread in American culture within the past few decades which I believe is leading to the downfall of this once great nation. What I’m referring to is an undeserved sense of entitlement.
Many of us think we are entitled to a job, a bail out, health care, or a home that we can’t afford — not because of anything that we’ve done but because we feel it is our “right” to have it. And when problems come our way and we achieve less than this, we immediately begin to blame our parents, teachers, bosses, government, or God for this apparent injustice. We never want to fully face the real source of our problems – which is ourselves.
It’s not until we drop this sense of entitlement and take upon ourselves 100% responsibility for the outcome of our lives, that we will ever see the success we want as individuals and as a nation.
Two ChoicesJack Canfield, author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, taught a seemingly simple but very important formula that illustrates this idea of 100% responsibility. The formula goes like this:
E + R = O (Event plus Response equals Outcome)
Breaking this formula down, it basically means that your success or failure, your health or lack thereof, the measure of your relationships, how you handle a survival situation and basically every outcome of your life, is a direct result of how you have responded to the events that have happened to you.
Looking at this equation, you can see that you have two choices:
Choice #1: You can blame the events for your situation in lifeWhen failure or disaster comes your way, you can blame the weather, blame your boss, blame your parents, blame society, blame the economy, blame your lack of resources, or blame the government for your failures, but it’s not your environment or any external factor for that matter that limits you – it is your response to that event!
Blaming the events takes the focus away from you (the Response) and sets it upon what’s not in your control (the Event). When you avoid taking 100% responsibility for your outcomes, you remove yourself from the equation and rewrite it as: Event = Outcome. You are thereby left with a convenient scapegoat for your problems. But with this faulty equation, you are only limiting yourself. These limiting thoughts and beliefs become roadblocks to your pathways to success, survival, or whatever outcome you desire.
It’s been said before that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you continue to engage in unhealthy eating habits, smoke and drink, waste time in front of the television, fail to build your relationships, not become prepared with food storage and survival skills, spend more than you earn, and then wonder why your life has turned out the way it has, you are following this recipe to insanity.
Unfortunately, this is the recipe that most people end up embracing. They achieve less than optimal outcomes in their lives and then they begin to point the finger beyond themselves exclaiming that they should be entitled to all those benefits without putting a nickel of effort in themselves. This is the easy way out. If you want to be average, choose #1, otherwise here’s another option:
Choice #2: You can simply change your responses to the events until you get the outcome you desire
Looking again at that equation, we see that we have no control over the events of our lives. The one variable that we do have complete control over, is our response to those events or stimuli.
The animal kingdom is dictated by stimulus and response. When a certain event happens in their life, they respond in an instinctual way. There is no forethought as to how they will respond, they just respond. We are unique from other creatures in the ability that we have to choose our response to a stimulus. This is exclusively a human endowment. In other words, we have free agency.
The bottom-line is that you are the one who has created your outcomes. If you’re not satisfied with how your life has turned out, then take a look at your past and realize that all your thoughts, words, and actions have resulted in your current situation. You may not be responsible for the events that happen in your life, or the environment in which you’ve been placed, but realize this one powerful fact – you are responsible for how you react.
If you want to be more successful, then respond in ways that produce more success. If you want a better relationship, then respond in ways that create better relationships. If you fear economic or natural disaster, then pull up your bootstraps and start preparing. If it’s health and fitness that you want, then know that it is your response to what foods are available to you and what day-to-day choices you make regarding exercise that determine your ultimate health.
It may sound simple. Well, that’s because it is. But remember, simple isn’t always necessarily easy. But I promise you that once you make this mental shift, you will be amazed at what the gift of free agency can bring you. Self-reliance is not an entitlement, it is a choice.