A huge lesson I have learnt is that taking responsibility does not mean that everything is your fault. Likewise, I’ve learnt that whether or not something is your fault, you still make a choice to take responsibility for every single thing that happens to you. But we might just not realise it.
The biggest learning for me was in 2010 when I had a number of epileptic seizures. There was no particular reason why these seizures happened – other than being linked to an earlier incident where I was knocked unconscious.
To be clear – I had no choice about the incident or the seizures happening – they were out of my control.
Every time a seizure occurred, aside from how it left me feeling physically, I was hugely embarrassed as well as being annoyed about their unpredictable nature. It also meant that I was not able to drive for a year AND the clock started again, every time another one occurred.
I felt pretty hopeless – this was changing my life and I had no choice or control over it.
I did learn that I could take responsibility though and here is how:
Instead of feeling embarrassed and awkward around people who’d witnessed these seizures (and at times ended up in hospital with me) – I was grateful that they looked after me and gave them advice on what to do if it happened again.
Instead of moaning about not being able to drive – I worked out how to get to work without a car. Even when this meant a six hour round trip every day to get there. I used that time to be my best at work (hard not to be if by default you are doing a 14 hour day every day) and to keep in touch with people I didn’t always have time to talk to. I exercised more and used my bike to get to places locally.
Instead of feeling isolated and lonely (six hours travelling each day will do that to you) – I used that time to become more comfortable in my own company.
I’ve been seizure free for a number of years now – but the lessons I took from that experience have had a huge impact on me.
But the main one is that you might not choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it.
I appreciate that my example will be different compared to what other people have experienced. I do believe that the same principles apply, no matter how hard (and I expect I will face other difficult situations at some point in my life).