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pirituality & Peak Performance
The Law of Responsibility

© Dan Millman
 (Excerpted from Life You Were Born To Live)

Once we establish the limits and boundaries of our responsibility,
we can take full charge of that which is our duty and let go of that which is not;
in doing so, we find more enjoyment supporting others,
as we create more harmonious cooperative relationships.

For peace of mind,
we need to resign
as general manager of the universe.
            --Larry Eisenberg

"United we stand, divided we fall. Many hands make light work. No one is smarter than all of us" The principle has been stated many ways, but each statement expresses the same sentiment: Working together, we can accomplish tasks that would be difficult or impossible without cooperative effort-for example, building a skyscraper or staging a play.

In every endeavor in which people work together at different levels of responsibility, some people may have more visibility, but they are supported by other people without whom their efforts would be unproductive. What would the rock star do without the sound technicians? Could the corporate president or head of the board run a company without efficient secretaries? When achievers rise in politics or industry, they are supported by others who form the foundation of their enterprise.

Families, corporations, or empires rise or fall based upon the quality and level of cooperation and responsibility within their boundaries. At the individual level, our own effective functioning as human beings depends in large part on our internal states of cooperation.

Before we can help others, we have to help ourselves-to put our internal house in order-and reconcile our conflicting subpersonalities: those identities, beliefs, values, and ideas that seem to oppose one another or sit on different sides of the fence. We may even need to facilitate active cooperation between the right and left hemispheres of our brain. Before we can find harmony, we have to notice what is out of harmony-the either/or, yes/no, I should/I shouldn't dichotomies that result in confusion since every decision involves pros and cons. A variety of approaches exist to harmonizing our "parts,' such as subpersonality work, Voice Dialogue, Neurolinguistic Programming, alchemical hypnotherapy, and other educational methods that help integrate both hemispheres of the brain.

In our relationships with ourselves, with other people, and with our own circumstances, we need to discover our point of balance, define and delineate the limits and boundaries of our appropriate level of responsibility, and recognize that our values, needs, and priorities may rightfully be very different from our parents' siblings' spouse's, or other people's.

Those of us who feel a strong drive to support, serve, and assist others can, in our need to give, sometimes overcooperate to an extent that debilitates both us and those we serve. In extreme cases, this tendency to overhelp degenerates into codependency, where we lose ourselves in obsessive focus on other people's lives, pouring out without receiving in return. Codependents assume responsibility for other people's lives far beyond the normal duties of parents or friends or employees. They base their value, self-worth, and even their identities on their ability to help other people, always (rather than sometimes) focusing on others' needs before their own, a form of playing doormat or even slave.

The overcooperation that lies at the core of codependency involves a distorted or exaggerated sense of responsibility, leading us to try to "fix" others' mistakes rather than allowing them to learn from the consequences of their own behaviors.

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About The Author
Dan Millman is a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor. After an intensive, twenty-year spiritual quest, Dan's teaching found its form as the Peaceful Warrior's Way, expressed fully in his books and lectures. His work continues to evolve over time, to meet the needs of a changing world....more
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