By Joanna Kleovoulou, Clinical Psychologist & Founder

In light of what is happening currently in our country, with an uproar at the violation of our constitution by our president, I have this to contribute about my thoughts on responsibility – or the lack thereof – as my way of Toyi Toyi’ng and marching for freedom and liberation but also as a marker to look inward.

Reflecting on my own life, and what this current crisis has stirred up in me, as well as the principals I draw on in my psychology practise when assisting people to work towards mental well-being – accountability was central to this. According to the World Health Organisation mental wellness can be defined as “the state in which one realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stressors of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution in his or her community.”

We all inherently as humans have at some point deflected accountability in some way pointing fingers outward- criticising others for their mistakes, blaming the world, or God or your environment for your crisis, or your suffering, or wiping your hands clean from any misdemeanours- whatever shape or form.

Being a responsible person means that you are able to recognise your part in an event that has transpired pleasant or difficult. It means you are positive and motivated to work towards a solution. You are not weak if you take responsibility for the actions that may have lead to pain or mistakes that have had a small or profound impact. In fact, taking responsibility for your part means ultimate confidence as it frees you up and empowers you to know that you are a capable human that is able to come to a positive solution or to rectify your mistakes. Many of us struggle to take responsibility for our actions, or like to admit to making mistakes as it hits at the core of their underlying fears, our vulnerabilities, and the lack of ownership or blaming others deflects from these pains:

  • The fear of being exposed as bad or defective
  • The fear of humiliation
  • The fear of insecurity
  • The fear of being rejected or unloved
  • The fear of being alone
  • The fear of pain
  • The fear of being controlled or trapped
  • The fear of being worthless or of being useless

Learning more about where this stems from and owning up to your part in the creation of a problem could bring your awareness to the thing we stand for and strive to keep –  freedom. So having more accountability actually frees you up from your own illusions of a false sense of self, integrates you to more wholeness and gives you choices and options to expand your existence.

In childhood parents who were permissive, and did not set healthy boundaries and give choices for the consequences of their child’s actions, set off the unconscious message that their child can do no wrong giving power and control to a child, or on the other spectrum if a parent was very punitive and harsh in punishment, the child would have an engrained fear of being rejected or judged, which leads to maladaptive relationship to responsibility in both instances. Chaotic, permissive, abusive and neglectful childhoods creates an inherent feeling of insecurity.

A false sense of self starts to develop as one then struggles to take control of his or her behaviours, and a defended or fragile self emerges giving the illusion of being superior, overly confident and right. Denial sets in as the defence mechanism to deflect deep insecurities and self-doubt. This false self will eventually be exposed by life’s demands, and impact profoundly on relationships and self-destruction. Living with this façade reinforces destructive behaviours such as codependency, aggression, irrational thinking, defiance, irresponsibility, unhappiness and a general dissatisfaction with life.

So I challenge all of us, Mr President and myself included, to turn the mirror inward, PAUSE and reflect on what this country’s current chaos is mirroring about ourselves, with the aim of ultimate freedom.

If any of you are struggling with a sense of responsibility and accountability, have gotten yourselves into a mess because of it, take on too much, or would like to empower yourselves with self-development, please make the inner change by choosing us at PsychMatters to assist you to live more masterfully. Contact one of our psychologists at PsychMatters Centre on 0114503576.

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