I remember when I was about 4 years old, my sister, Karen and I were staying at our Aunty Lizzy’s house for a few days. We loved staying with her because she used to spoil us. She would buy us toys and yummy things like ice cream and show us off to her friends. Aunty Lizzy desperately wanted children of her own but was finding it hard to get pregnant at the time. As a consequence, she liked us to call her ‘Mummy’ when we were around strangers. She really did love having us around.
Anyway, her house was not very childproof and while Aunty Lizzy was downstairs, Karen and I found some lovely red liquid in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom one day. It looked delicious to us, and we drank the whole bottle between us. The sweet syrupy liquid was delicious!
When Aunty Lizzy found the empty bottle a short time later, she was in shock. She raised her voice at us asking frantically which one of us drank the red liquid. I felt so guilty and so did Karen, but we dared not tell the truth as we thought we’d be in deep trouble and get a smack. We did not realise the gravity of the situation and how potentially dangerous it could’ve been. The more frantic she became, the more Karen and I denied drinking it.
We were in the bedroom that Aunty Lizzy had decorated with Disney character wallpaper especially for our visits. All of a sudden, while being interrogated by Aunty Lizzy, Karen piped up ‘I know who drank it… It was Micky Mouse’ as she pointed to the wallpaper with the most innocent look on her face.
It was only much later when the situation had calmed down and we were deemed by a doctor to be okay that Aunty Lizzy laughed at what Karen had said. In fact, she would talk about it for years afterwards and we would all have a good laugh at the innocence and stupidity of our actions but mostly the way Karen had blamed Micky Mouse.
I thought of this story when I first found out about what it meant to take responsibility for my life.
That is to live life at CAUSE and not EFFECT.
By blaming Micky Mouse, we were certainly at EFFECT. We were children who had no idea at the time, but it’s amazing how many adults will blame and justify circumstances for why their life is the way it is. In other words, they are living at EFFECT. It’s my experience that most of the population live at effect most of the time.
In the moment, it may seem so much easier to blame someone else or blame a situation for something in your life not going right. To not be responsible is enough to justify that it’s ‘not your fault’ and this may make you feel satisfied in the moment. It’s the easy way out in the short term
Taking responsibility is much more difficult in the moment. The ego doesn’t like it! Having to say you’re wrong or you did something regrettable or need to apologise can be challenging. It may be easier to just blame someone else or a circumstance.
However, living from the effect side of the equation is very disempowering in the long term as you will believe you are at the mercy of other people and circumstances.
Living at effect is like someone else driving the bus of your life. So, who’s driving your bus? If not you? Then who? Is it your partner? Children? Boss? Parents? Is it a combination of the above people depending on the circumstance?
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If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, you are living at effect… for at least some of the time.
But… you don’t have to!
What is important is that you live your life at CAUSE most of the time. This will allow you to see that YOU are in control of your own life, and nobody else. Also, when you are at effect, that you recognise it, and then be able to choose to stay there for a while and to put yourself back at cause when you are ready.
Three Steps to Living at Cause:
- When you find yourself blaming someone for something that has happened, STOP. Ask yourself, what is my part in this? It’s amazing what will come up if you are being honest with yourself.
For example, you are late for a meeting and you blame the fact that the bus ran late. This is being at effect. In reality, you did not take into consideration that public transport is often unreliable and that you did not allow for this. Instead, if you were late for a meeting, a more at cause way of stating why you were late could be ‘I apologise for being late, my bus came late and I didn’t allow for this when planning for this meeting’. Can you see that you are taking responsibility here?
- Realise you have the choice to be at cause and you can decide how long you want to stay at effect. Know that it’s up to you.
For example, someone cuts in front of you as you are driving in traffic. You have a choice here. You can get angry and scream and prompt some awful road rage or, you can give them some space and back off and think to yourself ‘He/she must be in a hurry’.
It could be a stretch to not get angry in the moment and want to scream. If you do need to do that… that’s fine, as long as you realise it is YOU releasing the emotion that is in YOU. Once you are satisfied that it is released, then go back to cause. It’s okay to have a bit of a pity party, but just know that you are at effect at that time.
Look at the diagram Responsibility, Justify and Lay-Blame. If you are below the line, you are at effect and above the line, you are taking responsibility and are at cause. I often ask my clients ‘are you above or below the line at the moment?’ If they say below, I ask them what they would need to do or say to jump above the line.
Your Future Now Coaching manual
- Catch yourself when you are using at effect language and bring it to consciousness before changing it to more empowering language.
For example, if you catch yourself saying ‘Why can’t I do this’. You could catch yourself and change it to ‘if I wanted to, how could I do this?’ It’s a much more empowering question and opens up your unconscious mind to coming up with a myriad of solutions. I recommend saying it out loud to yourself too.
When I talk about taking responsibility, it doesn’t mean that everything is your fault. Often, what happens is beyond your control and is definitely not your fault. What is your responsibility is your response to what happens. This is what you do have control over.
Mark Manson gives a great metaphor in his book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’1. If a baby is left on your door step, it’s not your fault that the baby is there, but it certainly becomes your responsibility.
Yes… sometimes life can be just downright challenging. Despite this, it is important now, even more than ever to stay at cause. It will pay off in the end.
Remember, blaming Micky Mouse is not the answer to having an empowered life.
For extreme examples of people who have endured almost insurmountable life situations and who remained at cause most of the time so they could survive and ultimately thrive, you may like to read the following books by these three amazing people. I highly recommend them.
The Awakened Woman by Tererai Trent2
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl3
The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku4
These three people are so inspirational. Both Viktor Frankl and Eddie Jaku were survivors of the Nazi concentration camps coming up against incredible life challenges and Tererai Trent was born a poor woman in Zimbabwe who against all odds, got herself an education, left Zimbabwe for the USA with her children and achieved a PhD. Then she went back to her country to help other women.
Being at CAUSE is the answer to having an amazing, empowering life with you driving your own bus in whichever direction you want, no matter what is happening in your world.
YOU have the power. It’s YOUR choice!
Unlearning unhelpful lifelong patterns of being at effect can be a challenge. One of the ways I help my clients is to help them be at cause most of the time. If you would like some help with this please book into my online calendar for a quick chat. Heres’ the link https://calendly.com/gcmitchell58/quick-chat-clone
- Manson, M. ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life’. HarperLuxe, New York, NY. 2018. Accessed October 27th 2021:
- Trent, T. ‘An Awakened Woman: Remembering and Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams’. Enliven, New York, NY. 2017. Accessed October 27th 2021:
- Frankl, VE. ‘Man’s Search for Meaning: An introduction to Logotherapy. Beacon Press, Boston USA. 1962. Accessed October 27th 2021:
- Jaku, E. ‘ The Happiest Man On Earth’. Pan Macmillan AU, 2020. Accessed October 27th 2021.
Gina Mitchell stands for women being empowered and owning their own lives while going through midlife and menopause.
Her niche is coaching women over 40 because of her own challenges with midlife and menopause. She is not okay with the fact that many women suffer and struggle through this stage of life and beyond.
Gina is a certified life coach, certified NLP practitioner, matrix therapist and hypnotherapist. She is the founder and CEO of Midlife Coaching for Women. She has been supporting her clients to reach their goals since 2011.
She wrote a #1 best-selling book about female midlife relationships called ‘Ignite the Spark’.
Gina’s mission to help midlife women live their true potential comes from over 35 years as a scientist and science teacher.
Her other passions include her family, pet cats, travel, advocating for animal rights and the environment.
‘Not just surviving menopause and midlife … but thriving’ – Gina Mitchell