Jun 15

The Fear of Taking Responsibility

Tag: Anger Management,Communication,Personal Growth,SpiritualityBeth and Neill @ 2:32 pm

Why don’t people fess up when they’ve done something “wrong”?

In our work, we believe that fear of taking responsibility is a result of being “Domesticated”. We define Domestication as any Training Process that uses a system of punishments and rewards to accomplish its goals.

We enjoy how [tag-tec]Don Miguel Ruiz[/tag-tec] describes this in his book [tag-tec]The Four Agreements[/tag-tec].
“Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. In order to teach a dog we punish the dog and we give it rewards. We train our children whom we love so much the same way that we train any domesticated animal: with a system of punishment and reward.

We are told, “You’re a good boy or girl,” when we do what Mom and Dad want us to do. When we don’t, we are “a bad girl or boy.”

When we went against the rules we were punished; when we went along with the rules we got a reward. We were punished many times a day, and we were also rewarded many times a day. Soon we became afraid of being punished and also afraid of not receiving the reward.”

Becoming an Auto-Domesticated Animal

The domestication is now so strong that at a certain point we no longer need anyone to domesticate us. We don’t need parents, the school, or the church to domesticate us. We are so well trained that we become Auto-Domesticated animals.”

We can now domesticate ourselves according to the same system of punishment and reward. We [tag-tec]punish ourselves[/tag-tec] when we don’t follow the rules according to our belief system; we reward ourselves when we are “good boys and girls.”

We’ve all grown up in this Auto-Domesticating culture.
(see the work of [tag-tec]Riane Eisler[/tag-tec]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riane_Eisler
and [tag-tec]Walter Wink[/tag-tec]: http://www.walterwink.com/books.html)

Our culture practices judging whether we are good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, worthy of reward or deserve punishment …

[tag-tec]Integrity[/tag-tec] vs. [tag-tec]Morality[/tag-tec]

This causes people to confuse Integrity with Morality. We define Integrity as: Being true to your [tag-tec]Chosen Values[/tag-tec] and your Highest Self, vs. Morality, which is: judging the rightness or wrongness of something according to Culturally Learned moral standards. Morality is the practice of judging what’s good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, worthy of reward or deserves punishment.

In this culture people get Integrity & Morality mixed up so they believe that failing to act as others expect will cause them to be judged as Bad and Wrong, or worthy of punishment. So people fear the [tag-tec]punishment[/tag-tec] that will follow from the judgments of others such as: How irresponsible / inconsiderate / selfish / stupid … or What a jerk / creep / idiot, and so on.

In this situation it’s no wonder there are so few souls willing to martyr themselves to the consequences of these moralistic judgments.

What Would You Prefer?

Given all this, it seems to us that the more important questions are: How do we move from a culture where we try and control people’s actions through fear of punishment and desire for rewards to one where we elicit the actions we want from others by engaging in a compassionate dialogue that is focused on gaining clarity about everyone’s needs in a situation (such as one where someone has acted “irresponsibly”), thereby eliciting a sincere agreement to participate together in a way that serves the highest good of everyone involved?

And as an important prerequisite: How can we gain the level of [tag-tec]Values Intelligence[/tag-tec] needed to focus our attention on maintaining integrity with what is most important to us (at the essential, core, “spiritual” level) rather than being driven by our culturally learned, habitual thinking?

So (as a shamelessly self-promoting plug) if you find these questions intriguing you may be interested to know that much of our work is dedicated to finding practical and effective answers to these last two questions.

3 Responses to “The Fear of Taking Responsibility”

  1. Ron C. de Weijze says:

    Punishment and reward should not come from someone with power who can distance us from the group, but from independent confirmation or truth itself. Taking such responsibility can mean getting stripped of responsibility for the rest of your life, at least as long as postmodernism isn’t dead.

  2. Marla Turner says:

    I find that this is not a problem in my working life, though I do see it in other coworkers and supervisor/managers. I just ignore it because I started out my working days in a Copy Shop and discovered quickly that things moved along and work was finished more consistently if I fessed up to my mistakes right away. The company even started changing their managing model to include not wasting time placing blame. Then I had the fortune of working for Xerox where mistakes were everyone’s ~ if there was a problem, it was everyone’s problem, from the bindery worker up to the manager. No time was wasted placing blame, or waiting for someone to take responsibility.

    Even during my years as an Administrative Assistant and currently switching to education as a career, I have found that owning up to mistakes right away has earned me more respect and has created a better working environment. I do not fear my bosses. They learn quickly they can redirect me without an ultimatum (and that I won’t flip out if they have paperwork or disciplinary procedures they have to follow). They also know they don’t have to reward me like a child when I am doing a good job (because I know I am), even though they do it anyway ;~D

  3. Jason says:

    Beth, I loved your examination of integrity verses morality here. I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of considering these things the same in the past. I will say though, that my personality (being a bit self-depricating) tends to fess up more to my shortcomings than give me credit for my accomplishments. I think responsibility is a two sided coin and making sure you remain accountable for your GOOD deeds is also crucial to a healthy spiritual being. I’m new to your blog here and I have to say, I’m really loving it here. Thanks.