The Hypothesis of Owning It

Owning it means accepting all the outcomes of your choices – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Owning it means taking responsibility for all the choices you make. We often try to place blame on others or situations when we make a choice that has an unexpected or unwanted outcome. Why do we do that? What’s so terrible about an outcome that isn’t quite what we wanted? We feel embarrassed, angry, frustrated and look to others or the situation to lay blame for the outcome instead of owning that decision. We could look at it and say – “Well, that didn’t work out quite like I’d expected. What went wrong? What can I change next time?” We could collect some data and try again – like we’re testing a hypothesis or a recipe. You remember hypotheses from science class right? You state an expected outcome given a specific set of circumstances – inputs to the experiment. And then we test that hypothesis to see if we made a solid guess based on the facts given. Sometimes it worked out – sometimes it didn’t. When it didn’t, we looked at the outcome, the data we collected, changed the hypothesis, and tested again. No harm no foul. Or when you’re making up a new recipe – come on you know you’ve tested whether peanut butter and mayo are good on a sandwich – no, no one? Sometimes it’s fabulous and sometimes you hurl. Maybe peanut butter and syrup will work better this time?

Why as an adult do we get all scared, embarrassed, ashamed, frustrated, or angry when our decision doesn’t turn out well? It was just a decision based on the given information. Our best guess really. Sometimes we nail it and sometimes we get nailed. If we accept the outcome, collect some information, and try again without the guilt, anger, shame, or embarrassment, we’d make a lot of progress and release a lot of shiitake we could do without. Owning our decisions, accepting the outcome, and trying again is the best approach. We feel better, we make healthier decisions, and we learn a lot. Yes, yes, I know there are some decisions that are catastrophic – I get that. I’m talking about the normal, day to day activities and decisions we make that we fret over, suffer guilt over, or get angry over.

Three things I’ve learned recently about making a decision or choice:

  1. Own it. All of it. Every decision – the good, the bad, and the gross. Laugh about it and say “Yes, yes I did that” and move on. Stop beating yourself up, blaming others, and giving up. You learn a lot about yourself and if you can look at it and say yeah I did that and learn and move on – you’re a much happier person and much more YOU. Own that truth.
  2. Try again. Look at what was working and what might have been off. Tweak it and try again. Change your thinking – Oh it didn’t work, it wasn’t for me or meant for me. Bullshit. That approach was off – tweak it and try again. If you give up – you miss an opportunity for learning and a possibility of huge success.
  3. A decision that was off only means you should try again. It does not mean you’re a terrible, unlovable, awful person. Blaming others or circumstances to avoid the possibility that you look stupid, like an awful person, or you’re an unlovable ogre only makes you those things. Taking responsibility for your decisions makes you strong, intelligent, and very lovable. (You’re releasing others from your expectations as well –that’s another story for another time.)

So what will you do? Blame? Or Own It? I choose Own It. I know it’s a process and testing a new hypothesis or recipe takes some time. Keep trying, keep collecting data, keep learning about your truth.

2 thoughts on “The Hypothesis of Owning It

  1. Great food for thought, thank you for the insight!
    When I look back on my own seemingly poor decisions, and how I reacted, it makes me think of Eckhart Toll and some of his writings about “ego.” This one in particular.

    I’m guilty 🙂 But like you wrote, it’s ok and part of our learning journey!

    1. Love the reference of ego as armor Mark! It’s spot on. We let ego keep us from just accepting our choices and owning them.

      It really is easier to own it than it is to remain separate from others. 🙂

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