Mindfulness and Responsibility: Two Keys to Personal Growth

Once you have a starting point, two practices will have to be cultivated in order to take active control of your personal growth.

These attitudes have their roots in classical spiritual practices like Buddhism, but have long been used in more secular arenas for good reason: they work.

One, Mindfulness, keeps you tuned in to who you are right now and the other, Responsibility, puts the direction of your development firmly under your power.

Midnfulness

In the simplest terms possible, Mindfulness is paying attention to what you’re doing at any given time. It is an ongoing awareness of the choices you makes, the ebb and flow of your feelings, and the paths in and out of the situations you find yourself in.

Mindfulness makes us aware of the patterns we fall into and can be best practiced by consciously shaking up those patterns or choosing to focus our attention on a specific action. This builds on the knowledge gained from learning a bit who you are right now, which gave you some insight into how your mind works.

To explore Mindfulness, choose something you normally do automatically and actually pay attention to it. When you tie your shoes, which way do the laces twist first? When you brush your teeth, which side do you start on?

Very often, you’ll find that early on directing such scrutiny on things that have become automatic will disrupt them quite a bit. This can lead to frustration, but it is an important part of the process. This is your mind getting in the way–something that happens all the time when dealing with a crush. Your mind getting in the way is what can throw you into a negative spiral or make you ignore obvious signs of attraction.

With practice, falling into the moment–being fully aware of what you’re doing right now–will become second nature.

Meditation can also help with Mindfulness. Sit still and listen to the sounds around you. Focus on each of them for a few seconds, then shift your attention to the next. Do the same thing with different parts of your body. This same thing can be done while moving–moving meditation is an important part of a number of martial arts exercises.

Responsibility

A close companion to Mindfulness, the practice of Responsibility helps you assert control where you can and better deal with things you can’t control.

Far too often we get caught up in the idea of total control. Me attempt to micro-manage our lives. We script our expected interactions with our crushes, then get flustered when they don’t respond as we had planned. We lament our lot in life and sink into a negative spiral of depression or slide into a destructive, obsessive crush, feeling completely out of control.

The simple fact is there are two types of things in the world: Those that we have control over and those that we don’t. Most of our experiences and situations can fall into both categories at one point or another, making it a little frustrating at first to deal with.

The one thing we always have control over–even if we don’t think we do at first–is our reaction to the situations we’re in. By taking responsibility at this basic level, we begin to mold our experiences of any situation.

For example, you’ve just asked your crush out. You have no control over what he or she will say. If she says “Yes”, you can choose to be happy with that or you can obsess and worry over how you’re going to possibly make the date perfect. If he says “No”, you can become depressed and sulk off or you can thank him for being honest and move on.

Taking responsibility isn’t easy. For a while it often gets confused with blame. We blame ourselves for things that happen. Blame is a negative thing that holds us back and causes us great pain. If you ask someone out and they say “No” you can blame yourself for being a screw up that no one could possibly love, you can blame the world for hating you, you can even blame them for being a stupid bitch.

But none of those things is particular true.

Instead of placing blame, apply some Mindfulness and be aware of what actions you took, what emotions you experienced and then take responsibility for how you acted upon those inputs.

Responsibility, in this context, is a more objective thing. Only take responsibility for things you have direct control over–and nothing more. For the things that our of your control, let them go.

Mindfulness and Responsibility are practices that develop in parallel with one another. They feed in to one another and accelerate each others growth.

With practice, they also become the most powerful tools you have to turn an ordinary crush into a Grown Up Crush and use it to learn more about yourself.

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