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Below are the articles in the Self-Responsibility category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.


A New Look at Selfishness

Modern culture prizes selflessness and abhors selfishness, in effect setting the two against each other. But do we really aspire to be without concern for ourselves?

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“The alternatives are either to love others, which is a virtue, or to love oneself, which is a sin,” wrote social scientist and philosopher Erich Fromm, in his essay titled “Selfishness and Self-Love.”

While no one would argue with considering others, it could be worthwhile to re-examine our beliefs around being selfish. Do we really aspire to be without concern for ourselves? Or is it important to value and love ourselves, to think for ourselves, to have a life of our own and to be able to love others without losing ourselves? How do we differentiate between valuing ourselves and egotistically indulging ourselves?

The answers lie in self-knowledge. When we undertake an inner journey and come to truly understand ourselves—the sacred and profane dimensions of our lives—we develop the capacity to deal honestly, thoughtfully and lovingly with ourselves, as well as other people.

Are You Living in Sync with Your Values?

Quiz assesses alignment with one’s values primarily as they relate to work.

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Fulfillment in life is related to how well you are living in alignment with your values. Values are not morals or principles. They are the essence of who you are—not who you think you should be. For instance, money is not a value, whereas the things that money might buy, such as free time, risk-taking, and being of service are values. When you’re aligned with your values, you feel inner harmony, your choices are more easily made, and your actions are in accord with your true self. Take this quiz to see how well you are living in sync with your values.

1. I have spent time clarifying my values and can easily articulate them.

2. My values are my own. I have not simply adopted them from parents, teachers or other outside influences.

3. I based my choice of occupation on my deepest values.

Are You Living with a “Victim” Mentality?

Times of stress can stir up the victim in all of us. This quiz helps identify if “victim” is too-often a part of one’s experience.

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Old-fashioned melodramas featured hapless heroines who always seemed to find themselves tied to a railroad track or evicted from home into a fierce storm as the villain twirled his oily moustache. Only a white-hatted hero or the cavalry could rescue them as they cried, “Woe is me!”

Here’s a Thriving quiz to help you see if you’ve been carrying around a victim mentality that may be robbing you of your sense of personal power. Answer true or false to the following statements.

T /FMy first response to a setback is to blame someone else for what’s happened.

T /FNo matter what I do, things are not really going to change for me.

T /FI often find myself beginning thoughts with phrases like “I can’t...,” “I’m no good at…” or “I’ve never been able to....”

Codependence: What’s My Responsibility?

Codependency is a learned condition, which means it can also be unlearned. This article offers ways to begin.

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Do you find yourself consistently feeling unfulfilled in relationships, not asserting yourself enough, or perhaps you have difficulty figuring out where your responsibility for someone else ends? Issues like these and others, such as perfectionism, low self-esteem, distrust, and even physical illness related to stress can indicate that you have some codependent behavior.

Codependency commonly occurs when a loved one needs support because of an addiction or an illness and we take care of that person at the expense of ourselves. Codependents can also attempt to control everything within a relationship, again, without addressing their own needs, thus setting themselves up for unfulfilling interactions and even sometimes unintentionally discouraging the loved one from seeking outside help.

We learn codependency by watching and imitating people in our family and in society who display the behavior; thus, it is often passed down from generation to generation.

Cultivating Serenity in the Workplace and Beyond

Cultivating serenity in the workplace may seem like a tall order, but its formula is simpler than one might think.

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The serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous says that the key to serenity is accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can, and possessing the wisdom to know the difference. The prayer is a good model that covers a lot of ground, but how do you tell the difference between what you can and cannot change? Here are some things you do have control over.

Your actions. No one can “make” you do anything. If you’re unhappy with your behavior at work or at home, change it, make amends if necessary, chart a new course.

Your words. Spoken or written, the words you choose impact your life and the lives of others. Choose your words carefully with workmates, colleagues, bosses, and clients, and quickly acknowledge any harm.

Doing the Right Thing: Issues in Integrity

Integrity is at the very base of self-esteem. When a person’s behavior contradicts his or her deeply held beliefs, it eats away at self-esteem.

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Those who act in ways that contradict what they believe is the “right thing,” may be able to justify their actions for a while, but this self-betrayal ultimately catches up with them. In their own eyes, they begin to see themselves as hypocritical and dishonest. This self-judgment is far more powerful than any outside criticism or rebuke.

Sarah, age 37, was invited to a formal dinner by an important client. She went shopping for a new evening gown and put it on her credit card. She looked gorgeous that night and she and her client had a terrific time. As soon as the store opened the next morning, there was Sarah, dress folded neatly back in the box. She told the sales clerk that the dress “just wasn’t right” and got the charge credited back to her account. Over the next few months, Sarah’s relationship with her client deteriorated until, ultimately, she lost the account.

How to Interrupt Negative Patterns

Becoming aware of how you create negative patterns in your life is the first step to interrupting them and establishing new, more positive patterns.

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When unfavorable situations, actions and emotional conflicts happen again and again in your life—same scene, different characters—there's a good chance you are in the presence of a negative "pattern."

Some examples: picking the wrong lovers/partners, constant conflict with co-workers, chronic debting, people-pleasing.

At best, these negative patterns cause frustration. At worst, they cause undue suffering, uphill struggle, sometimes even death.

The good news is: you have the power to change these negative patterns. Below are some ways to begin to disrupt them so that you can start laying down new, more positive patterns.

Become aware.No matter how entrenched a pattern seems, the act of noticing begins the shift away from damaging thoughts or behaviors. Put simply, you can't change what you're not aware of.

How Well Constructed Are Your Boundaries?

The poet said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” He was right. Good boundaries make life easier, reduce conflict and improve relationships. This quiz will help a person determine where his or her boundaries are healthy and where they might need shoring up.

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Boundaries are those invisible lines of protection you draw around yourself. They let people know your limits on what they can say or do around you. Healthy boundaries give you freedom in relating to others. Make them too solid and you build walls, too weak and you allow other’s actions to harm you. How well-constructed are your boundaries? Take a few minutes to find out.

1. I start statements with “I” rather than “you” or “we.” This lets me own what I say and is less defensive than “you” and more clean than “we.”

2. My boundaries are specific and clear.“I don’t accept phone calls after 10 p.m.” Rather than vague and mushy. “Don’t call me too late.”

3. I’m consistent when I create boundaries. If I say “no phone calls after 10 p.m.,” I don’t make exceptions unless the situation is truly exceptional.

How Well Do You Fulfill Your Needs?

How well are our physical, safety, love, self-esteem, and self-actualization needs being met?

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A number of years ago humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow realized that the foundation for physical and psychological wellness had to do with getting certain needs met. He developed the “Hierarchy of Needs,” from which the following quiz is adapted. Answer the questions to determine how well your basic and growth needs are being met.


I get adequate sleep and rest.

My basic nutritional needs are met.

I have a place to live that provides warmth and shelter and I am physically comfortable.

Exercise and recreation needs are met through regular routines and planned activities.

My need for sexual expression is fulfilled.

How Well Do You Take Responsibility For Yourself?

Through its quiz format, this article shows how to take responsibility in sixteen different ways.

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Years ago comedian Flip Wilson created a character named Geraldine, who excused her outrageous behavior by claiming “the devil made me do it.” Poor Geraldine, helpless and ineffective because she wouldn’t take responsibility for herself. In his book, Grow Up! How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult, Dr. Frank Pittman wrote, “Finding the responsible thing to do is the lifelong quest for grown-ups.”

Take the following quiz to find out how well you take responsibility for yourself. You won’t be scored at the end, but answer true or false to the following questions, and elaborate a bit on those that feel especially relevant.

T / F 1. I believe that my actions are the primary force in how I live my life, and that I am solely responsible for my actions.

T / F 2. When other people, events or circumstances affect my life, I am responsible for my reactions.

T / F 3. I may not always be able to select co-workers or team members, but I am responsible for the companions I choose and the company I keep.

How’s Your Integrity?

Quiz assesses how well one is living according to one’s core values.

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For some, integrity simply means telling the truth, but it goes deeper than that. Integrity has more to do with living the truth than merely telling it. Since integrity is intimately linked with each of our own unique set of core values, we alone are the best judges to determine how well we are adhering to our internal moral code. Take the Self-Quiz below to see how well you do.

1. I take responsibility for my actions even when I expect the results may be personally unpleasant or uncomfortable.

2. I don’t make excuses for my actions. When I have made a mistake, I face up to it with confidence.

3. I make a point to tell the truth, even when it would be just as easy to say nothing.

Life's Choices Aren't All Easy, But They Are All Yours

Life is about making choices, and making choices—even wrong ones—is key to self-esteem.

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Choices come in two flavors: Active — when you make something happen and live with the consequences, and passive — when you “choose not to choose,” and continue to live with the status quo because the stakes appear too high for any changes choice might bring.

Active choices can be painful; feelings of fear and vulnerability often accompany these decisions. Just because we know what’s best of us doesn’t make it any easier. This kind of choice-making is risky, too. The most difficult choices don’t have any absolute right or wrong; there is no perfect solution. It takes great courage to face these hard decisions.

On the other hand, the postponement of choice can have serious backlashes in the way of stress, depression, discouragement, apathy, even physical illness. Procrastination seldom has any favorable results.

Recognizing Victimhood

Samantha doesn’t realize it, but there’s a victim lurking inside her.

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Though she wears a sunny disposition outside, inside, the perky 42-year-old mother is resigned to three ideas:

1. It’s too late in her life to go back to college like she always wanted to. She’d look ridiculous, and who has the time, anyway?

2. Her ex-husband is to blame for her financial problems and for her children’s disrespectful behavior.

3. No matter what she does—no matter how many self-help workshops she attends or how much inner work she does with herself—things are not really ever going to change for her.

Quite a life sentence she’s given herself: hopelessness and helplessness, twin offspring of the same poisonous parent known as “Victimhood.”

When we operate from a victim mentality, we give the power to create our own life to someone else, and then we moan about how controlling the other is. To avoid taking responsibility, we create (and protect at all costs!) the dangerous illusion that we are always right. We blame others for our circumstances and remain stuck in a silent “poor me” that keeps us small.

Self-Responsibility Starts with an I

A lack of self-responsibility leaves a person dependent, impotent and victimized. He or she may blame others for problems while waiting for someone to come along to make things right. But no one is coming, and that is good news.

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Self-responsibility is not the same as feeling responsible or accepting the blame for bad things that have happened or situations that are painful. We don’t all enter the world with the same trappings, and people, events or ¬circumstances have wreaked trauma and caused wounds from which many are recovering. Self-responsibility means that when you have worked through your grief or anger or other issues, you can ask yourself: Now what am I going to do? What options do I have?...

Rather than a heavy burden, self-responsibility can be a source of joy. Knowing you can create the life you want by accepting responsibility for yourself is a great freedom. Even saying the words aloud can produce a feeling of power and strength. Try it.

■ I am responsible for my choices and actions

■ I am responsible for how I use my time

■ I am responsible for achieving my desires, dreams and wishes

Taking Control of Your Life

Wanda wants to be promoted to senior management but has been told she doesn’t have what it takes to make the leap. Her thought: “I can’t control what others think of me.” So what can she control?

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It’s not possible to control a system, another person’s behavior or others’ impressions. But that doesn’t mean either that Wanda has no control over her situation. What she—and we—can control ultimately has more power to affect a situation than any control we might try to exert over others.

Consider the power available to us when we pay attention to these areas—things we can actually do something about:

Our actions. We alone are responsible for what we do. Wanda, for ¬example, can find out exactly what leadership and/or managerial qualities her superiors think she lacks. She can take courses to learn skills. She can work with a coach to bring out leadership qualities or to look at other work possibilities.

Tending the Fences: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Article teaches boundary setting by showing how a person might compensate for not having them set adequately.

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Good personal boundaries make for good relationships. Boundaries are those invisible lines of protection you draw around yourself. They let people know your limits on what they can say or do around you. Healthy boundaries give you freedom in relating to others. Make them too solid and you build walls, too weak and you allow other’s actions to harm you.

It’s not always clear where our boundaries are or need to be. Recognizing and studying the signs of ignored or ineffective boundaries is a good place to start, as these “symptoms” give clues to the needed boundary. See if any of the following ring true for you.

Aloofness and distance. When you are unwilling or fearful of opening your space to others, or when you build walls to insure that others don’t invade your emotional or physical space, this may be a defense against cruel behavior, abuse or neglect that you allowed to happen. A person with healthy boundaries draws a line over which they will not allow anyone to cross. They recognize their right to say, “No!”

Chip on the shoulder. This kind of attitude declares, “I dare you to come too close!” and is often the result of anger over a past violation or ignoring of your physical or emotional space by others. Healthy boundaries mean you are able to speak up when your space has been violated, leaving you free to trust that you can assertively protect yourself to ensure you are not hurt.

The Danger of Conformity

Not all conformity is bad. However, this article looks at 4 ways it can be "dangerous," stifling you from living a passionate, authentic, inspired life.

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"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."-John F. Kennedy

We humans tend to be like pack animals—safe in our herds. We don't like to stand out too much; at a primal level, it feels unsafe.

So we conform to generally accepted standards of behaviors, attitudes and beliefs within our herds, and we mostly expect others to as well.

A 75-year-old woman is not likely to dress like a 15-year-old, for example. She doesn't belong to that tribe and may be alienated by her own if she were to dress like that.

Most of the time, we don't even realize we are conforming. We do what others do because others do it, not because we have consciously and thoughtfully chosen it. It's just "what is done." Or we conform because of pressure and expectations.

Is conformity all bad? No, of course not. It's not a bad thing to stop at red traffic lights or drive on the correct side of the road.

Top 10 Things We Can Control

A wise person once said, “Focus on the ninety percent of life that is under our control and don’t fret about the rest.”

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While we cannot control the weather, death or another’s thoughts, much as we might like to, we would do well to pay attention to the areas in our life that we can actually do something about.

1. Our actions. We alone are responsible for what we do.

2. Our words. Spoken or written, the words we choose impact our lives and the lives of others.

3. Our beliefs. If we believe that others should take care of our needs, then we will be frustrated when they don’t. We can change our beliefs.

4. Our values. What’s important to us is our call. No one else can tell us what to value.

Top 10 Ways to Be Accountable

Keeping commitments that we make only to ourselves can be challenging. Here are ten ways to begin.

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Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to weasel out of a commitment that we make only to ourselves. Sometimes all it takes is a promise to someone else to spur us to live up to our commitments. Here are the Top 10 ways to hold yourself accountable.

1. Ask a friend or loved one to support your efforts.

2. Have an accountability partner. Perhaps someone you see at trainings, or a work buddy.

3. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based). Then measure your results against them.

4. Reward yourself. Make it really fun or pleasurable to achieve what you commit to!

Top 10 Ways to Handle Adversity

We’ve all experienced difficult times in our work or home lives, often through events and circumstances outside our control. But like great trees, humans grow stronger when exposed to powerful winds. Here are 10 suggestions for dealing with the hard times when they happen.

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1. Take responsibility. Assume an “I can do something” attitude rather than pointing fingers. If nothing else, you can control your own response to the situation.

2. Limit the focus. Don’t let the problem become all encompassing. When you compartmentalize the difficulty, you can focus on a workable solution.

3. Be optimistic. The ultimate belief in life as positive, even with hard-times and troubles, will result in positive behaviors and positive actions.

Top 10 Ways to Take Charge of Your Life

10 amazing tips to help you take charge of your life.

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Too often we take care of other people's needs, never getting to the activities that would have the most meaning for us. Here are 10 ways to take back your life.

1. Create goals. Get clear on what you really want, write it down and start to take action toward your goals.

2. Commit to your own agenda. As much as possible, before helping others each day, complete the tasks that move you toward your goals.

3. Set boundaries. When you heed your own agenda, you will likely need to set boundaries with the people in your life.

When Your Buttons Get Pushed, How Well Do You Manage?

“Triggers” can exact a toll in every area of a person’s life. Through its quiz format, article teaches strategies for coping with these emotional reactions.

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When you have an automatic, negative response to something, this often indicates a hypersensitivity that’s referred to as “getting your buttons pushed.” Usually these sensitivities have developed due to hurtful childhood experiences, such as repeatedly being criticized, rejected or controlled. For example, if your parents were very controlling, when someone tells you to do something you may resist—often subconsciously. Answer the following two sets of questions to discover how well you manage your buttons being pushed.

Set 1

When my buttons get pushed, I tend to shut down and withdraw.

When someone hurts me—even when I know it was unintentional—I lash out at them or blame myself.

I hate it when someone tells me I’m “too sensitive.”

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