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The 1st of 3 Essential Principles for Knowing Vitality

Choosing to create and know vitality is not easy in our society. The systems of our society are rooted in keeping people healthy - this means keeping people free from disease or illness. Yet, most of us want more than to settle for this form of “health” in our lives. Throughout my personal journey of navigating the challenges of the health model and working with individuals over the last two decades, I have found some key principles that are essential to break free from the limitations of the health paradigm and access a life of vitality, freedom, and power. In this post, I will share the first of the three principles with you, and I guarantee if you apply them and refine them through the application, you will know an experience of life that few people will ever know.

Vitality Principle #1: Ownership

Without this first principle, there is not much that can be done to create what is possible. Ownership is the first thing I assess whenever I work with a client. Is this person willing to take ownership of their life? Are they willing to focus on their role in creating their current reality? Are they willing to learn from what hasn’t worked in the past and do it differently going forward? When someone comes to me for help, and their answers to these two questions are yes, there isn’t much that’s impossible for me to help them to create in their life.

On the flip side - if someone wants to blame other people and the world for their current position and is unwilling to take full responsibility for whatever role they have played in creating the situation they are looking to change, there is not much that can be done. When the outcome and experience of your life are dependent on everyone and everything else, the only thing to do is “hope it gets better.” After working with clients in a very intimate way for the last twenty-plus years, I have never seen a situation where someone is completely powerless. 

One of the most common spaces in that I have supported individuals with experiences of feeling powerless is in relationships. I have worked with numerous people that come to me looking for support managing a family member, significant other, x-significant other, or one of their children. More often than not, the first few sessions start with them railing on this other person or telling me everything wrong with them in great detail. All the focus is on the other person. Now I’m not saying that the things this other person is or has done are ok, but regardless of what those things are, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. The only exception to this rule is anything that happens to a child. The difference between a child and an adult is a child cannot pick their environment, an adult can. I will explain those situations in future blog posts.

A more recent example of the power of ownership in a difficult situation was a client who came to me to help deal with her x-husband, whom she recently divorced. In this particular case, he had had an affair. She was obviously very hurt and was basically saying that he had ruined her life and turned her kids against her. She also told me how blindsided she was by the adultery - and that she never saw it coming. She felt a deep sense of anger, sadness, and betrayal.

I asked her when she first knew he couldn’t be trusted. She told me it was the day she found out he was cheating. I challenged her and said that I believed she knew way before that. After a bit of resistance, she was willing to dive deeper into their relationship and recalled that he had cheated on her when they were engaged months before the wedding date. I then asked her, who betrayed who? If you knew that he was capable of doing this and you married him anyway - it sounds like you betrayed yourself. After continuing our conversation, she admitted that she knew early on that this guy was not someone of integrity and honor. But because she was “getting older” and pressure from her family was mounting for her to get married, she turned a blind eye and married him. Once she was able to see that and own it for herself, she was no longer a victim. Ownership equals empowerment. It is not always easy and takes a ton of courage, which is exactly what she displayed with me that day in my office.

However, owning your role in certain things does not mean others will choose to do the same. This concept seems to be the biggest roadblock when it comes to this principle. So many of us want the other person to own what they did before we own our part. What can be even more problematic is the hope or expectation that if we owned our part, they would own theirs. What is essential to keep in mind is that you are acknowledging your role in something for YOU, not them. Choose to own your part, so you have the power to do it differently in the future.

And one last note - remember to own your role in the things that are going well in your life as well, for the same reasons. When you own your part or how you influenced something that is going well in your life, it gives you the power to recreate the experience in the future. We tend to beat ourselves up for the mistakes we’ve made, but differ to something outside of us for the things that are going or have gone well. I invite you to own ALL of it.

In next week’s blog post,  I will share the second essential principle to knowing vitality - talk then!

Yours in Vitality,