How do you view responsibility? A necessary evil? Part of the blame game? Something to avoid at all costs? When you think of responsibility, do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach? Or does it lighten you and bring a thrill of what is possible, excitement and potential?
Very often, responsibility gets a bad press. It can be linked to blame, in that other people can point the finger if things go wrong or it doesn’t work. Many think of it as a burden that comes with mortgages, job roles, parenthood, relationships.
Others avoid responsibility because they feel the weight of it crushes their creativity, freedom and sense of fun with life. And there are those that see it as unavoidable, like shackles that hold them back and stop life being fun and exciting.
Embodying Archetypes to explore Responsibility
On a recent Embodiment Circle Online co-hosted by myself, Thea Allison and Catelijne Coopmans, we explored responsibility through the archetype of Sovereign. We built on the theme that alignment of the body allows you to relax and bear weight more lightly. And that alignment relates directly to the weight of responsibility and how that burden can be lightened when it is aligned to your values. Here is the body-based meditation we ran in the Circle:
Responsibility and Personal Sovereignty
Sovereign is a powerful metaphor for your personal sovereignty. To take responsibility for your own fulfilment, meaning and purpose. To create the order, structure and stability for yourself and therefore for others so that they may thrive.
You must align with you values if you are to take on that responsibility willingly, openly and with commitment. As a business leader, to see your colleagues thrive and develop in their jobs and contribute in a way that sees your industry and the economy at large prosper. As a parent, to witness your children grow and find fulfilment in their own lives. Or as a manager, to create teams that are motivated and inspired and instrumental in the success of the company. And central to all that is honouring what is most important to you so that you flourish too. You are Sovereign of your own life and no one can benefit from your skills, talents and qualities if you are not fulfilled and living life on purpose.
That takes responsibility, a commitment within yourself to stay true to what is most important to you, for your well-being and the well-being of those your life touches. There is something about bearing the weight of responsibility as a gift that lightens you, inspires you, when you are aligned to your values, meaning and purpose.
An equivalent alignment in the body would be with the Head (mind), Heart (chest) and Hara (pelvis). When these three centres align, the weight of the body is supported by the skeleton and the muscles can relax. Without that alignment, the muscles remain tense and become tired. Life becomes effortful, and increasingly so as the body tires, weakens and struggles more.
Responsibility aligned to Values
This relationship between alignment of the body and aligning your responsibility with values, meaning and purpose is essential if you are to bear the weight of responsibility without effort and with dignity and wisdom. Wisdom comes from understanding that there is a great price to be paid if you take action that is out of alignment with your values, meaning and purpose. Just like when you move your body when it is out of alignment and you damage a muscle or break a bone. The price is too high for you and those around you.
Bearing Responsibility Lightly
The mantle or cloak, crown and insignia are the ceremonial garments Sovereign wears to represent this responsibility. Together these garments are a weight that is best carried with good alignment of posture. Aligning Head, Heart and Hara allows the muscles to relax. Muscles free of tension allow the weight to drop into the floor. And because every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion), the Earth pushes back against that weight, lightening the body. No matter how great the weight, the force pushing back will always reciprocate, offering support and bearing the load. It is universal law.
A person who lives aligned to their values walks with confidence, a lightness and ease in their step. They walk tall, take up space and have a presence and power that are commanding. They own their sovereignty and bear responsibility lightly. Alignment of values shows itself through alignment of body. An aligned body shows the strength of character to honour values through action.
In your own life, responsibility will include your relationships, career, finances, bringing up the kids, job responsibilities, upkeep of the home and bills, offering emotional support and helping others thrive. You also maintain self-care, so that you can live life to the full as well as continue with this responsibility. If you are to bear these responsibilities lightly, joyfully, with ease and dignity they must align with your values. What responsibilities do you have that align with your values? What is the feeling of that alignment? Energising, invigorating, inspiring?
It is not enough to feel responsible for the finances of the family for example. That responsibility will crush you if what you do to live up to that responsibility gives you no joy, fulfilment and a sense of purpose. It is such a common situation for a person to work all hours so that they can provide for their family. Yet, they are missing their children and spouse because they are working all the time. They are out of alignment with their values. The long hours would be more bearable if they had great relationships with their family.
But so often they do not. They feel lonely and isolated and find themselves longing for the intimacy of family. Meanwhile, the family misses their presence and they fall short of thriving as a result. For your own sovereignty, it is important to get that alignment right and find the balance so that the weight of financial responsibility is lightened.
Aligning Responsibility to Values
If your responsibility does not align, can you find a way to do so?
I have a love/ hate relationship with the responsibility of keeping a clean and tidy home. It gets in the way of my creativity and freedom if I do it too much. And yet, if I let it slide too long, the mess and lack of calm inhibits the creative flow. So, I balance the responsibility of cleaning and tidying with the values of creativity and being productive in my work. What responsibilities do you have that you can align to your values that are currently not aligned? How might you find a way to align them? What is the feeling of finding that alignment having been out of whack? Relief, coming home, relaxing, light, free?
If you cannot find that alignment, can you drop that responsibility?
When new opportunities come my way, I think carefully about whether they align to my values. There is a factor of time of course. And there is a question of alignment that gives me energy, vitality and enthusiasm for the work. Is the opportunity aligned or not? If not, it will drain me and allow less time and energy for what really matters to me. So, I let it go. If it is aligned, it will add to the momentum and energy of my life and so I willingly accept it. And allow the responsibility of taking it on to lighten my soul through joy and fulfilment.
The bigger your life gets, the more important it is to stay aligned to your values. That structure, support and order both internally (through Head, Heart and Hara) and externally (with values, purpose and responsibility) are vital for you to maintain your power and vitality. Without them, your reach, impact and capacity become diminished. Sovereign is about thriving and creating and maintaining order to do so. Responsibility can help you thrive, or not. It all depends on how your responsibilities align with what is most important to your head, heart and soul.
Over to You
What responsibilities do you have that help you thrive? And what responsibilities drain and weaken you? Are they aligned to your values? What can you do about those responsibilities that are not aligned? How can you get more alignment? I’d love to hear how you are doing with these enquiries. Please post your discoveries in the comments box. Alternatively, you can e-mail me if you’d rather keep things private or you’d prefer to discuss what is coming up for you.
Pass it on
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