By Dr. Dina Evan

here is a story of a woman in India who was upset that her son was eating too much sugar. No matter how much she chided him, he continued to satisfy his sweet tooth. Totally frustrated, she decided to take her son to see his and her great hero, Mahatma Gandhi. She approached the great leader respectfully and said, “Sir, my son eats too much sugar. It is not good for his health. Would you please advise him to stop eating it?”

Gandhi listened to the woman carefully, turned and spoke to her son, “ Go home and come back in two weeks. ”The woman looked perplexed and wondered why he had not asked the boy to stop eating sugar. She took the boy by the hand and went home.

Two weeks later she returned, boy in hand. Gandhi motioned for them to come forward. He looked directly at the boy and said, ” Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.”

The boy nodded and promised he would not continue this habit any longer. The boy’s mother turned to Gandhi and angrily asked, “Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?”Gandhi smiled, “Mother, two weeks ago I had not stopped eating sugar myself.”

Gandhi lived in such integrity that he would not allow himself to give advice unless he was himself was living it, in and with integrity. Today, we want to blame our leaders, our parents, our kids, the dog next door and the mailman for everything that goes wrong. Wouldn’t it just be easier to say, “Hmm, I have not yet done that myself!”


Why do we fear taking personal responsibility so much?

I think it is because we think it means failure on our part, when in fact, it means we have courage and integrity. We are learning and we earn respect by taking responsibility instead of tap dancing around looking for someone else to blame. Of course, in order to begin accepting personal responsibility, we also must be willing to learn, rather than being stuck in own ego. I think it’s about, “Would we rather be right or wise.”

Once you understand that we are all connected, all still learning and all making mistakes here and there, it’s easier to take personal responsibility. And once you role-model that, it becomes easier for others to do the same.The cost of not taking personal responsibility is big.

It causes you to lose a sense of yourself and who you are and it causes other to distance from you because you become less safe, unwilling to share the joy or burden of growing. When you blame others or refuse to show up in honesty, you cut the real and meaningful connections available to you in life. The precious reason you are here in the first place…to create those connections, as teacher, as friend, as parent or mentor.

So how do we stop playing the blame game? First you hesitate, the next time you want to tell a lie or shirk your responsibility and silently ask yourself, “What it is that you are afraid of or why you are afraid.” You stop the blaming habit in its tracks, and take control by stepping into your own power. No excuses please. No fumbling please. Just blurt out kindly, the whole damn truth and wait for the compassion. Wait to watch your friends get more honest. Wait to feel the respect coming at you and wait for the appreciation for your honesty.

Try to remember you can’t control anyone else’s response to your honesty and taking responsibility. You may lose a friend or two who is not yet ready to follow suit. That’s okay. It’s not our business when or how others choose grow up. It’s only your business when and how you decide to do it.

And when you have made a mistake or haven’t taken responsibility, apologize for it and make amends for it.

This planet is a school and this is one of the great lessons it offers. Don’t miss it. Like Gandhi, it builds your character and makes you the master you came here to be.


Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. She has also won national acclaim as a human rights advocate. Visit or call 602-571-8228.