Monday Musings Part Sixteen: Knowing what’s Yours

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Knowing what’s Yours


On from Monday Musings Fourteen, on patience and knowing when not to act, this week we take a look at knowing what’s yours. What do I mean by this? The simplest way to approach this is to think about a dinner table set for six. You wouldn’t steal food from your companion’s plates, as a rule. Rather, you would eat from your plate only. Unfortunately, life can often seem more like a buffet than clearly defined place settings.

In this situation, it becomes of vital importance to refrain from overloading your plate. In other words, not taking on responsibility when it belongs to someone else.

Life runs much more smoothly when you know what belongs to you and what belongs to another.

In just the same way that you will become sick from eating too much rich buffet food, you will grow unwell from taking on too much stressful responsibility. That’s not to say that we don’t help someone in need, just that we make that definite choice while knowing that we don’t have to pick it up. And, even if we do take it on, the responsibility always lies with the other person. We can’t, and nor should we, take that away from them. That approach doesn’t help anyone.

Whenever we make a mistake, we need to own it. Whatever occurs in our lives that needs our attention, we need to take care of it. The same for each and every one of us.Zen Stones for Monday Musings

Death (and the dying process) brings this into stark relief in that this is something that we do utterly alone. No one else can do it for you. They can assist you, but in the final moment, it comes down to you and you alone. When your hourglass runs empty, and that last grain of sand tumbles, only you can hold responsibility for the life you’ve led and the choices you’ve made. Only you can feel your regrets and appreciate your triumphs.

Not to act out of laziness or avoidance doesn’t make things go away or lessen the impact. More often than not, such behaviour only makes things worse. Whether we read the book or not, the story of our lives gets written. And, it’s your story, no one else’s.

In the wise words of Ruth Everhart, ‘It can be hard to untangle your story from other people’s stories. Life doesn’t have clear edges and chapter breaks.’

However, nobody likes a meddler. If we hanker after a fruitful and peaceful existence, then we need to take care only to offer help when it’s asked for. Never should we force our ‘assistance’ on anyone, let alone our judgements or opinions.

So, first of all, we need to know when the responsibility rests on our shoulders. Then we need to know when and how to act. Inaction is also an action. It is a choice to do nothing. It has consequences just as much as doing something. We cannot avoid the law of karma (every action has a reaction).

In the wise words of Zen:

‘It’s not your responsibility to fix every problem or to try and make everyone happy. It’s nice that you care, but you must also be kind to yourself and recognize your limits.’

If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: 🙂