The Journey: The Rewards of Self-Responsibility


The psychotherapist Nathanial Branden describes an exchange he had during a group therapy session.At one point, he says 'Nobody is coming to save you', to which someone in the group replies, 'What about you?''I came to tell you that nobody is coming to save you.'Self-growth takes more courage than anything else in life.There are parts of ourselves that we have kept hidden for years, well defended and difficult to reach. Peeling back the layers of the onion is a difficult process but it is one we are ultimately responsible for. Outside resources can help but, just as you can't change anyone else, no one can change you.Self-responsibility, responsibility for your feelings and actions, is one of the hardest and most useful lessons to learn.Everyone is responsible for their own feelings, thoughts and actions.No one can make you feel a certain way, just as you can't make someone else feel a particular emotion.With this knowledge comes freedom: the freedom to take control of our lives and the freedom to shed burdens of responsibility that aren't ours to carry.How could that knowledge change your interactions this week?The JourneyOne day you finally knewwhat you had to do, and began,though the voices around you kept shoutingtheir bad advice--though the whole housebegan to trembleand you felt the old tugat your ankles."Mend my life!"each voice cried.But you didn't stop.You knew what you had to do,though the wind priedwith its stiff fingersat the very foundations,though their melancholywas terrible.It was already late enough,and a wild night,and the road full of fallenbranches and stones.But little by little,as you left their voices behind,the stars began to burnthrough the sheets of clouds,and there was a new voicewhich you slowlyrecognized as your own,that kept you companyas you strode deeper and deeperinto the world, determined to dothe only thing you could do--determined to savethe only life you could save.~Mary Oliver