A devotee once told me that her husband had taken money from their joint account, ran off with it, and left her with nothing. This woman was asked by a counselor to tell the same story again, but this time to tell it from the viewpoint that she was responsible for what happened. By telling the story from this perspective, she realized that she was foolish to have trusted her husband with a joint account because past experience showed that he was not trustworthy with their money. This shows that we often believe a problem is outside us when it is really within us.

One way to switch into the responsibility mode is to ask ourselves the right questions. Instead of asking, “Why did they?” ask, “How can I?”

Another question we can ask when confronted by a difficult situation is, “If I was a world expert on … (fill in the subject according to the problem – anger, self-control, management, communication) and was guiding someone who had the exact same problem I faced, what would I say to him or her?” The purpose of this question is to gain objectivity in our situation and to make us aware of the options we have in responding to a specific challenge.

To practice reacting to situations from a higher perspective ask yourself, “How would someone who is stronger, or more determined, or more intelligent, or more Krsna conscious react to this situation?” Sometimes we think there is only one way to react to a situation, but not everyone reacts the same way to the same situation.

Sometimes taking responsibility can be overwhelming. Occasionally, things go wrong all at once and we may not necessarily have the capabilities or qualifications to deal well with the situation. We can take this as an opportunity offered by Krsna to learn how to persevere through these difficulties. We can think that Krsna is giving us an opportunity to become stronger.

Responsibility also means that when we have little control over a situation, we should act as we would want others to act.

Again, the bottom line is that we should not look at what can’t be done, but look at what steps we can take to move forward.