Climbing the Ladder

Cathy Laffan returns to the blog today with a post for her monthly series.



Sometimes learning to practice The Responsibility Process feels a bit like a game of Chutes and Ladders to me.

Recently I realized I reacted to one of life’s upsets from below the line. Coming to this realization felt a bit like sliding down a chute and the danger is in becoming stuck below the line. To climb the ladder of The Responsibility Process it takes awareness, compassion, looking, and practice.

Awareness is key. Awareness helps me see when I am operating from old patterns of behavior that don’t serve what I want in my life. Awareness helps me climb the first rung of the ladder past Denial. It helps me know when I’m blaming someone else for my situation or justifying my predicament because of some outside influence.

As I continue to climb the ladder, I can see that without self-compassion, awareness can turn into Shame. Once I realize things I’m doing or not doing are coming from a place below the line of Responsibility, it is all too easy for me to berate myself for creating this situation and if I start doing so, it creates a vicious cycle that keeps me below the line even longer. Self-compassion allows me to forgive myself for being human and reach for the next rung on the ladder as I strive to operate from Responsibility. In a previous blog post, I wrote about having compassion for yourself as well as others.

What “should” I do next? I don’t want to act from Obligation; obligation  will only result in another slide down a chute. Acting out of Obligation because a doctor said so, it’s what your Mom would want, or it’s what you must do to earn that next promotion, are not truly in alignment with what you want. Once you are aware of what you want, acting in a way that is out of alignment will cause an upset to occur and send you down the chute to find your way back to Responsibility. Remember, this is another opportunity to practice.


What keeps me from quitting this journey? Sometimes it feels like it might be easier to quit practicing Responsibility and return to my old ways. For a long time, I believed that my old ways were soft and comforting like an old t-shirt. Then an upset disrupted my life and the old ways weren’t comfortable, they were painful. The Responsibility Process helped me see: a new way that requires practice, an acceptance that there will be setbacks, setbacks are normal, and there is a way to move beyond these setbacks. With practice this way becomes easier, faster, and feels good.

In my practice of The Responsibility Process, I’ve noticed I often focus on a behavior or habit I don’t want anymore instead of focusing on what I do want. The more I think about the thing I don’t want, the more I seem to do it. Last week the leader of my beginner’s mountain biking group was teaching us some do’s and don’ts and she said that if you focus your attention on the tree that is close to the trail then you’re more likely to hit it because where you focus your attention is where you go. This was an “ah-ha” moment for me and I’m incorporating it into my practice.

What are you focusing on as you climb your ladder of Responsibility?


Cathy Laffan

CL Nov 2013_cropCathy Laffan is a member of The Leadership Gift™ Program and accredited as The Leadership Gift Practitioner. She is a Managing Director with 24 years of experience working for a leading global financial services firm. She has 20 years of experience in the project management field and is certified as a Project Management Professional.

A champion of flexible work arrangements, Cathy has been working remotely full-time for 4 years. Cathy is also a Toastmaster and has earned the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader designations from Toastmasters International.


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Posted in Responsibility on 09/21/2015 01:00 am
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