“You own it!”
This is a phrase that has several meanings. It can be, “Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a new house or car,” or it can mean that you own the outcome or decision you just made. Unfortunately, our culture today is allowing an attitude of deflection and denial to creep into our thought processes, which is preventing us from taking responsibility for our choices. I don’t want to go as far as the victim persona, but there is a shift toward not taking responsibility for our own decisions. We are quick to blame other people: “They said this first,” or “They did this to me first.” Instead of owning what we do and say, we deflect and deny.
When my kids were teenagers, I was quick to point out that they owned their decisions, actions, or words. It didn’t matter what their friends did; it didn’t matter what their feelings were at the time of the decision. They owned their decisions, actions, or words. They were not allowed to “dodge” responsibility.
So here are three critical steps in owning your choices, actions, words, and attitudes:
Honesty. The challenge with owning your actions, words or feelings is that it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself. This one act of honesty, looking at what we think and what we feel, is hard. We want to measure ourselves by our intentions and not our actions. We are quick in our minds to justify why we did something or said something, but being truthful with ourselves is one of the most significant challenges we face as humans. The people who understand true honesty within themselves are one step closer to mastering their feelings and owning them.
Response. We cannot control what someone says or does to us. What we do control is how we respond. It is the second critical step in owning what we say or do. If we allow our anger, hate, jealousy, or hard feelings to surface, we have ceded our emotions to our responses in tough situations. At the most critical time, emotions take over and we wreck or damage an already tense situation. I have seen it happen so many different times, when a person’s emotional response blows everything up and makes the situation so much worse. We need to control and own our responses.
Grace. Grace is not a word you hear in secular circles, but it is an underlying truth that is so critical to owning our words and actions. We want justice and judgment when someone has harmed us, either emotionally or physically. We want some type of reciprocity and we think we are owed justice. Demonstrating grace seems so counter to getting justice. We step back and let hard feelings pass. The person who gives grace is quick to let go of hard feelings and is not consumed by getting even or getting revenge. Grace is unearned and unmerited. It is a characteristic of God and is so hard to master in our relationships. I have seen the damage done to people consumed by anger and hurt feelings. It destroys their well-being and their health. Grace is the power to let go.
Do you own your thoughts, words, and actions? Or do you play the blame game and point out how it is everyone else’s fault for what you said and did? Stop and be honest with yourself, choose your responses carefully, and see how grace empowers you to own your words and actions.