Once, shame on you. Twice, shame on me.

Henry Cloud and John Townsend write:

To the degree that we are not seeing our own patterns of behaviour and taking responsibility for them, we are going to repeat them.

Ownership is seeing those patterns and taking responsibility for them. If you are continually disappointed by certain repeated situations, then it is time to recognise the unproductive pattern and take ownership. The old adage has some truth to it: “Once, shame on you. Twice, shame on me.” In other words, anyone can get fooled. But once we’ve been fooled, we have to take ownership and responsibility for our reactions and expectations to prevent it from happening again.

Sometimes that means not placing ourselves in the same situation again, or at least, not with the same expectations. At other times, taking ownership means that we understand who we are dealing with. We understand them as they are, not as we wish them to be. We take ownership of the reality before we go about trying to improve it.

Ask yourself this: In the significant areas of life that I care about, what unhelpful patterns am I repeating?  When you discover such a pattern, you find an area of responsibility. You are not responsible for the bad things that happen to you, but you are responsible for the patterns you create in response to them. Find a pattern and you find an opportunity for growth, change, and power. If every time I drive by the Golden Arches I turn in and eat five cheeseburgers, I may do well to see a pattern and not drive that route. Understand your patterns and own them. When you do that, you will begin to see alternative choices. If every time you find yourself in situation A you do B and get negative results, you may do well to recognise that this is not just something that is happening to you. You may have some responsibility in it. And the good news is this: wherever you have responsibility, you have the opportunity for change, choice, power, and a new outcome. If, and that is a big if, you take responsibility for that pattern.

So find your pattern. We all have them in the areas where we are stuck. The person whose willpower repeatedly fails to keep her from succumbing to the Golden Arches is no different than the one who keeps getting hurt by a critical mother she continually thinks will be different, or the person who thinks the next impulsive scheme is going to work when the ten before did not. See the pattern and you will discover the place to change your life.


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