Take 100% Responsibility

Aug 04, 2020

How often have we tried to bargain with others about how much responsibility to accept in a given situation? And how often have we confused responsibility with guilt? But true responsibility can neither be divided nor pushed away.

Most of us are comfortable with the concept of responsibility for our own words or deeds. Some of us will even be comfortable with the notion of taking responsibility for all that we attract into our lives. And yet there is another layer.

The Hawaiian people take responsibility very seriously. They have an ancient tradition of reconciliation and forgiveness that actually makes a person responsible for everything. For absolutely everything that happens in his life and for everyone he crosses paths with. It sounds strange but it’s amazingly effective. It’s called ho’oponopono and the root of the word means ‘to put right, to correct, to adjust, arrange, rectify or tidy up’. It works like this: for every situation we encounter in our lives, we turn inwards and say: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”


If someone does something bad to you, say this. If you witness someone struggling, even if you are not connected to their struggle, say this. If you are ill, say this. If someone you love is going through problems, say this. Say this for everything and for everyone. Basically take responsibility for this thing that shows up in your life, in whatever shape or form it appears. Believe it is there because you are responsible for it in some mysterious and incomprehensible way. Accept this responsibility without questioning it. Just say: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” And then do so again.

One amazing result of this technique was achieved by a psychologist at a state hospital in Hawaii, who cured a full ward of criminally insane patients without ever seeing any of them. What did he actually do? He said “I am sorry” and I” love you”. Did he say it to them? No, he said it to himself. He actually sent forgiveness and love to his own self, to that part inside him that resonated with what was happening outside. He did that consistently for a long period of time. And that had the effect of changing the reality around him. It sounds like science fiction but the case is well-documented.

We are used to thinking of responsibility as limited to that which we do ourselves. This technique teaches us that our responsibility extends far further than this. Everything that shows up in our life, including the people who wrong us, is there because, in a way, we have created it. We are the creators of our own universe. And as such, the more we heal, the more the world around us heals. As a philosophical concept many of us can probably relate to this, but when expressed in this kind of extreme responsibility technique most of us might shake our heads in doubt.

And yet what have you got to lose? If something bad happens around you or to you, simply turn inside and say in your mind “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” No one needs to know about this. Try it out and see what happens.

If you can entertain this idea, even if for only a few minutes, you can see what amazing new perspectives it can create. We are responsible for our lives. OK, we get that. No, not just that. We are responsible for all our lives. For everything that shows up in our lives.


For the bad economy. For the beggar, we pass by in the street. For the man who robbed us at gunpoint. For the lover who broke our heart. For the boss who bullied us. For the friend who let us down. This is far harder to accept, but simply being open to this idea will bring through a whole new perspective.


And no, it has nothing to do with guilt. Responsibility is not guilt. Guilt is a low vibration emotion that weighs us down. Responsibility empowers us. Because if we accept we are responsible for something, we also accept we have the power to change it.

We are responsible for everything and at the same time, we are responsible for nothing. Responsibility is not a limited concept, something that can be parcelled, divided up, and shared. You simply take it. For whatever shows up in your life.

Take it without guilt, without self-punishment. Take it simply as it comes. Go inside yourself, to the very place that is touched by something happening in the outside world. Go there and give yourself love and forgiveness. It will heal you.


And then the life around you will heal too.

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