Dear Lucy: I am 16 years old and I live at home with my parents and little sister who is 12. My Auntie reads your article and told me to write to you. I used to have ADD and took Ritalin. I got sick of it and don't take it any more. Don't have a lot of crazy, stupid, impulse stuff anymore but there is one thing that I can't seem to fix. It drives me and my parents nuts. I am simply not a responsible person. Most of the time what I get fussed about is not being responsible. I get mad at them and mad at myself. Any tips?
– Mr. Irresponsible
Dear Precious One: I refuse to address you as "Irresponsible." And I urge you to never, ever talk ugly to yourself with negative labels. The greatest power we each have is the ability to choose how we will think. And the most important thoughts are the ones we think about ourselves!
Take a look at that word, "responsible" and "responsibility." They both have in them two of the same words...respond and able or ability. So a great place to start on your road to recovery from a habitual way of being is to first ask this question. "Am I capable of responding?" That is all it means to be responsible. "What does it take for me to be able to respond?"
Responsibility is a choice we make, moment to moment. We cannot go to sleep on the job of learning how to do it. Responsibility is a learned skill. None of us are just naturally responsible. We grow into it, learning to be proud of our capabilities one at a time. And then we nurture our skills and repeat them until they become second nature to us. It also helps when we can notice how others around us excel at responsibility.
Some of the things that make us capable can be identified in the following ways. You can ask yourself these questions after the fact or the moment you are given a task to do or an expectation to fulfill. Just remember that the first and most important questions are these: "Do I choose to do this task; am I worthy of the trust to do it; is this task worthy of me?" Notice that I did not say "Do I want to do it, but rather, Do I choose to do it." There are many things we don't want to do. But there are many things in life that we can choose to do simply because they add value to our lives and others.
Is this something I know how to do?
If I don't know how, how fast can I learn it and where or from whom?
Can I tell the truth about my ability? If I don't know how, I need to keep it real and let my lack of ability be known as well as my willingness to learn.
Are there some special boundaries that need to be set for this task? Like, honestly assessing how long it may take, that it may take me and someone else to complete, when must it be finished?
Am I allowed to be creative with this?
What are the consequences of failure? If I fail, who will be affected and how?
Now here is a very special step: Stop and take the time to imagine what it will FEEL like when you have successfully demonstrated your ability to respond in a positive way to this request. Dream into it. Can you feel the pride, the pat on the back, the congratulations, the personal strength it brings? Spend a few minutes feeling it real. Now get started!
Keep working it until responding with ability becomes your new habit...choosing to respond with all of your capabilities, both old and new. Give yourself time and you can fix this.
Let me know how it works out.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)