Mental Health is … You Taking Ownership of You

When we take ownership of the choices, we have made and their resulting consequences we can take a huge leap forward in our mental wellness. It’s called self-determination. We discover we are indeed the captain of our own soul.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

In one of the most enduring and lengthy stories of the Bible we see the importance of you taking ownership of you

The coat of many colors 

One of the worst things you can do as a parent is to show favoritism to one child over another. Favoritism is the fertile soil out of which jealousy, anger, resentment, and bitterness grow.

In the story of Joseph (Genesis 38,)  we find Josephs father giving him much favoritism. He lavished upon him a beautiful new multicolored coat.

Then Joseph began having dreams of his future power and how one day his brothers would bow to him.

Nothing wrong with dreams and these very dreams came true, and his brothers did bow before him.

The problem arose however when Joseph shared the dreams with them. A murderous intent grew in them.

Then one day they found their opportunity. While grazing their flocks faraway from home they saw Joseph coming to visit.

They grabbed him, tore off the coat and threw him into a well.

Then a group of traders was passing by, and so they sold Joseph to them. He was now a slave to be sold in Eygpt.

The well and the desert

I would love to know what was going on in Josephs thinking while he was in that well and while he was trudging his way to Egypt.

Was he angry, bitter, plotting his revenge? Was he having a sulk?

We will never know, but I want to propose that he did a personal review of all that happened. [pullquote]Experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is. -John C Maxwell.[/pullquote]

He remembered how proud he felt in his new coat. The dreams he had and how he shared them with such gloating delight to his brothers. Then how he saw the rage and contempt grow in his brothers.

He took ownership of the choices he had made and the consequences he found himself in. Yes, others had made bad choices, but he had to own his part of the story.

Life continues for Joseph, and we find further poor treatment of him, but out of the chaos arises a man equipped to lead a nation.

Ownership of your well, your desert

It’s so easy to blame our situation on others. To make our recovery the responsibility of others.

You broke me you fix me.

Blame games never help you out of the dark well you find yourself in. Always looking back with vile will keep you being a slave stumbling in the desert.

Mental Health is …

  •  Accepting personal responsibility for the choices you have made in the past – good, bad and the ugly.
  • Accepting personal responsibility for the consequences of the choices you have made.
  • not blaming others for the way you feel
  • taking 100% responsibility for your life and your recovery

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”
Portia Nelson 

Yes, life is not fair, things happen to us that are out of our control, but our mental and emotional well-being is based on how we respond to those moments. Whether we will accept responsibility for ourselves and move ahead.[pullquote] No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt [/pullquote]

That we come out of the “poor me” victim role, where we blame everyone else for our problems, and we move to the solution side.

Sick thinkers run from their problems, blame everyone else, throw temper tantrums, have pity parties and sulky sulks to avoid owning up to what they have created.

How to take mental health ownership

None of us want to be in a well/ hole or a slave stumbling in a desert. We need to do a rigorous daily, moment by moment inventory of our thinking life.

Three questions to ask yourself

  1. Am I taking 100% responsibility for myself, for my actions and the consequences?
  2. Am I taking responsibility for something that is someone else’s responsibility to address?
  3. Do I own how I respond to others? Your response is your responsibility – own it.

When we take ownership of the choices, we have made and their resulting consequences we can take a huge leap forward in our mental wellness. It’s called self-determination. We discover we are indeed the captain of our own soul.

Quotes to consider

  • Stop blame shifting. Your situation was caused (at least in part) by your choices. Accept responsibility for your predicament, to regain the reins of your own life. D. Riddell
  • Blame-shifting to avoid accepting responsibility has a very high price, for to successfully blame others is also to dis-empower yourself. D. Riddell
  • No, life is not fair, but God is, and your security does not rely on this life being just, but on God’s love for you. D. Riddell
  • In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt

Questions to answer

  1. Why do we keep wanting to shift responsibility for our poor choices?
  2. How can we grow in taking ownership of our lives?
  3. Who in the Bible was the first to not take responsibility for the choices they made? Genesis 3:12-13

Further reading

Wallowing in the past won’t add to your future

What Swiss Cheese has taught me about Forgiving Myself and Others

In Recovery YOU Have To Do The Work

Barry Pearman
Dayne Topkin