Overheard in an heated exchange between two people…
P1: How can you behave like that?
P2: I am like that only…
How many times have we heard this response? This seems to be a favourite answer for so many questions. Why did you get angry? Why did you shout? Why didn’t you do something? Why did you not study? Why? Why? Why?
All these have a very simple explanation. “I am like that only”.
To me this smacks of irresponsibility. What we are saying is, I cannot change my behaviour. I have no control over it. I am conditioned to behave the way I do. I am a machine. Every time you press that button, this is how I would respond. My responses are programmed.
When we say that, we refuse to take responsibility for our actions. As Steven Covey says in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, between the stimulus and response stand us, the human being. If we cannot have any control over our responses, we have no right to call ourselves human beings.
In fact, the word responsibility consists of two words, response and ability. So being responsible means being able to choose our response to whatever be the stimulus.
If you look at all the great people in the world, they chose their responses very differently to the same stimuli in their circumstances. Gandhiji chose non-cooperation over violence. Shivaji Maharaj chose fight over submission. Sindhutai Sapkal chose to work for the orphans over self pity.
Let’s ban this phrase from our lives. Let’s instead say, “I would have reacted like this, but I choose to react differently”. Let’s all become more responsible.