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Endorsing Full Responsability

A few months ago, I’ve experienced an unfortunate adventure that made me think about our involvement in our actions and our collective impact in this area. If we do not engage ourselves in all areas of our life, professional and personal, if we live in constant fear of failure, what impact does this have on our happiness and upon the lives of those around us? ? What part of us truly inhabits our lives?

While I was traveling in Paris with my family, my mother-in-law, a sweet 80-year-old lady, fell at the Opéra Garnier and broke her hip. After an operation and a few days at the hospital, her insurance organized her trip back home. An ambulance had to take her from the hospital to the airport where she was taking a plane and then a new ambulance had to pick her up at the arrival airport to complete the 150 km that separated her from home.
Everything went smoothly until arriving at the destination airport where she was sat on a bench by the ground staff and where the scheduled ambulance never arrived. For almost 5 hours, my mother-in-law has been waiting on a bench alone without being able to get up or walk and therefore without being able to drink or go to the toilet.

For my part, during those 5 hours, I’ve had 6 different people on the phone working for the insurance company trying to find a solution. With rare exceptions, these 6 people all told me that it was not their fault, that they were not responsible for the situation and that the insurance company had done its best to handle the situation properly. No one offered me any solution or was moved by the fact that an 80-year-old lady was abandoned all alone on an airport bench…

Why am I telling you this anecdote?… Certainly not to blame those people who do what they can with their way of functioning but to draw our attention to the fact that instead of working to find a solution – my husband ended up borrowing my stepfather’s wheelchair and traveled the 150 km that separated him from his mother to bring her back safely – each person explained to me how they were not responsible, that it was someone else’s fault, the ambulance company in that matter… The fear of being accused of a failure was stronger than compassion and the desire to help a person who needed assistance. In this scenario, fear induced a total paralysis of solidarity spirit and any capacity for brain-storming to propose a solution. What did it matter to me who was to blame ? I just couldn’t stop thinking of my poor mother-in-law unable to move around on her bench, waiting for someone to come and pick her up, and, in fact, if the person I had on the phone had just forgotten their fear of being assaulted with guilt and gotten involved, I am certain a solution could have been found. If instead of being afraid of being reprimanded for a mistake that they had not actually committed, one of them had helped my mother-in-law with compassion, instead of experiencing my anger after 2 hours of inertia, that person would have benefited from my immeasurable appreciation for their efficiency and kindness.

Once again, this fear related to no real danger – which is a reflex emotion for many of us – ultimately leads the person towards what they feared, namely being reprimanded as if they were actually at fault whereas if they had left their fear aside and just looked for solutions to the problem at hand, they would have come out of this situation with pride and big thanks on my part. On my behalf, if, instead of succumbing to annoyance, anger and concern for my mother-in-law, I had calmly encouraged one of the people I was talking to to forget their guilt and quickly find a solution, I would have acted as a better human being, which was not the case. I hope I will do better next time.

It doesn’t matter if we are responsible for a situation or relationship that has gone wrong or if the events we anticipated did not turn out as planned, this is the very principle of life. If we put our fears and our guilt aside, it is always possible for us to correct our course, to correct things by changing our actions and/or our vision of the world. We live in a constantly moving universe where we experience ourselves every second in various situations, so it is normal to test things that don’t work, to have an unhappy response to certain events and this should not bring guilt or fear, just changes in our choices or behaviors if we do not find them suitable. Every decision we make that does not bring the expected result is not a failure or a bad decision, it is simply a situation that needs adjustment.
Sometimes it takes several attempts to assemble a piece furniture because we assemble parts the wrong way… the same is true with life: sometimes it takes several unfitted tries before finding the right series of actions that will allow us to achieve our goal. Thomas Edison tried more than 1,000 times before succeeding in inventing light bulb, so he failed 999 times before achieving his goal…

It is by being completely involved in each and every action of our lives and by taking total responsibility for them, those with happy results and those with less convincing, sometimes disastrous, outcomes, that we can fully achieve in being who we truly are without fear and reach our goals with confidence, joy and fulfilment.

For those who’d rather read long texts on paper, you can download this article in PDF.

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GClaudel4@Luc Naville BD

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