What are we taking charge of?

Eli Szein
07 February 2022

A question I like to ask myself when I’m in a situation that I want to change is: what’s in my hands?

The answer that first pops up is sometimes all or nothing, where if I can’t be responsible for the whole thing, I don’t take care of anything. However, I started to understand that it’s possible to think about this in a scale of different shades of grey, which changed completely my way of responding to circumstances. For example, if what I want to change is world hunger, the shades-of-grey approach allows me to take charge for a portion of the issue, instead of saying that because I cannot eradicate it entirely, I can’t take responsibility for anything.

So, every time I find myself in a situation where I need something to change and I’m not sure about how to go about it, I make a list of the things involved. Then, I draw two circles, one inside the other, imagining I’m standing in the the center of the whole thing. I place all the items involved in the situation in one of the two circles: a) things that are in my hands or in my control in the inner circle, and b) things that are beyond my control in the outer circle. It’s never this clear-cut, and sometimes due to “invisible” reasons, it’s hard for me to take responsibility of what I believe is up to me 100% or let go of what I understand is fully beyond my scope, like other peoples’ behavior, for example.

The point is to start by acknowledging what is in our hands and what isn’t to learn to act accordingly. And then eventually move forward taking action when it’s my responsibility or resourcing to acceptance for those things I have no influence over. In any case, we also want to make our inner circle bigger and bigger, as we learn to focus on what we can act upon at any given situation, no matter what. Paraphrasing Viktor Frankl, when facing any circumstance in life (and he did face the hardship of being in a concentration camp!) we always have the possibility of choosing our response, that is, we always have responsibility. We just need to take charge of what’s in our hands.

So, what about you? What are you taking charge of today?

Pic by jcomp – www.freepik.es, edited by eliszein

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