It struck me the other day that the word “Onus” can be hyphenated to read: “on-us.”
I laughed when I realized how often we twist that word to suit our purposes. It seems we want to spread the responsibility when things go awry and often claim full credit when they go swimmingly.
It’s on-us when we do well, and on anybody but us when we don’t.
Here is a piece of wisdom from The Grasshopper that will save us all from the practice of spreading the poverty around: “Your behavior is your behavior and no amount of burden shifting can explain it away.”
Simply stated, your behavior is “on-you.” Think of it as a French word that means “total responsibility for your behavior.”
Behavior is, more often than not, programmed. That means we learned it along the way. We weren’t born with it; we acquired it.
Many of us, when we don’t like the way we behave, learned to shift the burden to avoid the responsibility for our actions.
Take the toddler being potty trained as an example. The child knows after several training sessions that the goal is to make it to the potty when they have that urge. When they don’t feel like making it to the potty, they do their business wherever they sit. When their behavior is discovered, they may offer up that they “tried” to make it to the bathroom. We learn at an early age that “try” absolves us from behavior.
We have shifted the onus of our behavior to a word that has no behavior attached – Try. That pattern of learned behavior follows us through life as we continue the practice, if you’ll excuse the expression, of spreading the shit around.
Try attempts to shift the burden from “on-you” to “on-us.” “Us,” in this case, means “not you.”
Our behavior makes up our life. Explaining away or ignoring our behavior has become our national pastime. We spend our time explaining away what we did rather than focusing on what can be done.
We do what we do. I hope you noted the period at the end of the previous sentence. The more time you take to blame and explain, the less time you have to take dead aim.
Noticing and taking full responsibility for what we do puts us on a path towards something new. It puts the onus on you to outgrow explaining away everything that you do.
All the best,
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