10 Liberating Lessons Every Woman Must Learn about Claiming Radical Self-Responsibility

10 Liberating Lessons Every Woman Must Learn about Claiming Radical Self-Responsibility

madison hedlund life coach and mentor

Does radical self-responsibility feel like a burden? (It has for me).

For the last year, my resounding mantra has been, “I am my own responsibility!” It’s basically our theme-song in Awaken Her Soul, and I’m seeing so many of you claim this daily on social as you hit the gym, go to therapy, set boundaries, and as you make your truth the forefront of your life.


The thought of radical self-responsibility has brought up a lot of questions, self-criticism and fears for many.

In a recent convo with a member of Awaken Her Soul, I was discussing how overwhelming/harsh it can feel to take responsibility for your life. We talked about how initially it can activate shame and the feeling of not-enough. Or with a slight twist, it can feel like victim-blaming. Or if you’ve been taking on too much responsibility for as long as you can remember, it can feel even more heavy, dreadful and not liberating at all to think of ONE MORE THING to take responsibility for.

Which is why I want to create some s p a c e around the idea, and offer some curiosity, perspective and joy to the conversation.

But first, gather round. It’s story time.

I was 25, starting my own business, trying to create the life of my dreams by pulling myself up by my bootstraps. (Responsible AF). I was working 4 jobs, searching for truth, working through my faith deconstruction; which also meant leaving the church-- the community that had served as my family for years. I was trying to save my marriage, fix my husband, fix our unhealthy patterns, all while in trauma therapy trying to fix myself. I also felt compelled to pass on all the knowledge I was gaining to my family, trying as the oldest child does, to fix everyone and make everything happy. Happy for me. Happy for others. Happiness for all!!

But it wasn’t happy.

Under all the “glamorous” growth and change, life felt heavy and I was tired.

And on top of it all, the thought of “not being a victim to my circumstances” and taking responsibility was really upsetting. Hadn’t I been a victim to abuse? YES. Wasn’t I still in a job with a boss who was manipulating me and lying about me? YES. Wasn’t I feeling alone in it all, trying to navigate the loss of my God, my faith and my community all at once? YES. Wasn’t it hard to have to learn self-trust, boundaries, and belonging in adulthood… all while managing a business and saving a marriage? YES.

IT WAS HARD. It was so hard. And, somehow in that season, it was realizing “I am my own responsibility” that helped set me free… and continues to do so. 

  • If I wanted a new life of wholeness and love instead of fear and brokenness… Then I was the one who had to seek out healing.

  • If I wanted to set new generational patterns and deviate from the vicious cycle of codependency... Then I was the one who had to learn and practice new patterns.

  • If I wanted to feel free in my truth.… Then I was the one who had to set boundaries, I was the one who had to choose it

It became clear: The “savior” I’d always been searching for was me.

So what are the 10 liberating “lessons” in all of this? I’m soooo glad you asked!!

10 Liberating Lessons all women must learn:

  1. Responsibility is simply the ability to respond in integrity to my truth. NOT taking on all the responsibility, burdens of the past, and to-do’s of the present. (It’s just your ability to act in accordance to who you really are).

  2. Responsibility means I am the only one who can choose my wholeness, self-compassion, chase my dreams, or claim my worth. It’s true! You don’t have to wait for others to see your worth before you embody it.

  3. Responsibility says: I can’t always control the circumstances, but it’s my sacred duty to manage my energies (my emotions, attitudes, behaviors and time).

  4. Choosing responsibility means gaining agency. The ability to CHOOSE!

    • I can choose to heal.

    • I can choose to seek help.

    • I can choose to respond… or not to.

    • I can choose boundaries.

    • I can choose a new thought.

    • I can choose new patterns.

    • I can choose a new life.

    • I can choose again. Amen and amen.

  5. Self-responsibility means I am sovereign over myself and the Queen of my life. AKA: you become the authority on your own life; gaining self-trust, healthy boundaries and power. You know yourself. You trust yourself. You ARE yourself, at all times.

  6. Responsibility does not mean I have to do everything alone. It’s simply about shifting from codependency to interdependence, where tenderness, receiving help and love are paired with healthy boundaries; which allows for deeper trust and connection! YES PLZ.

  7. Responsibility means knowing my needs, and knowing how to get them met in a healthy way.

  8. Responsibility means I must give up control of others, stop managing the emotions of others, or trying to “fix” them. (Just imagine how much LIFE will be freed up if we all trusted other people to be on their perfect path!? It’s not your job to make others happy. Their healing is not your job! You don’t have to save anyone!!) All my empath babes, go ahead and take that sigh of relief now.

  9. Responsibility means I can go at my own pace. I’ve got nothing to prove!! I do what’s best for me and no longer need anyone outside me to “get” me or my choices. Because I trust myself, and no longer need to meddle in the minds of others. (What they think is their business!)

  10. Responsibility is a reclamation of freedom, dignity and self-respect.

BONUS: This one’s for you to write: Responsibility means ___________________.

Responsibility means.png

Now love, it's time for you to take this into your own hands. Use THIS GRAPHIC and share on Instagram stories what responsibility means to you in light of LIBERATION.

Tag me and use our community hashtag #IAMMYOWNRESPONSIBILITY so I can see and share your post with the rest of the community.

In awe of you and how you show up for yourself,



We just wrapped up another round of Awaken Her Soul last week and truly, these women showed up and claimed self-responsibility in the midst.

“I am more trusting than I’ve ever been. More honest. I trust myself and know I am powerful.”

“I a freely expressing myself, my art. I wasn’t expressing myself before. Before I was regurgitating, and now I feel like I have taken responsibility, no longer taking offense, and am honoring others expression more deeply. My writing has shifted, my self talk is shifting. I am asking for my needs to be met.”

“I've got a voice and I'm no longer afraid to use it! I've been MIA over the past year in my business because, ah, I simply was not ready. AHS has helped me integrate it all.Following the nudge today. Tears of joy flowing.”

“I’m not sure when or how the magic happened, but somewhere in these last few months I opened my eyes to my life. Friends and family have repeatedly told me how great I look, but I haven’t lost any weight, I’m still wearing the same old clothes I’ve been wearing for years, and I’m still struggling with acne and back pain. But I feel different. I feel GOD in my body for the first time in years. I have a love for myself that feels unbreakable. I am confident that I am on the right path.”

4 Year Anniversary | What I wish I would have known before saying "I Do."


At our wedding we washed each other’s feet as a symbol of our devotion. We committed to love through good and bad, and committed to put each other first. This was a practice we adopted from Jesus, who washed his disciples feet, showing them he was willing to see and love the dirtiest parts of them, and sacrifice for them.  It was a beautiful symbol to us of marriage, and we felt strongly about the ritual… but we had no clue what the hell we were doing. 


As we stood before 300 people, about to follow through with the foot washing, we realized that we forgotten the water. My brother in law quietly left the ceremony and brought water to us. As Phil started washing my feet, grass and dirt made the water a strange shade of brown. (We had been outside taking pictures in 107 degree heat.) It was disgusting and hilarious. By the end of the foot washing, we opted not to put our shoes back on because we hadn’t thought about how long it would take to complete the ritual, plus mine were filthy.

We were completely unprepared and caught off guard.

Our ritual of love and devotion was wonky, and it’s been the perfect symbol of growing into our marriage. We were in many ways unprepared for marriage. Our love tanks have been empty, our love tanks have been murky and toxic. We have been unconventional, and we have made it work.

So cute, so innocent, so clueless. Photo by Esther Ziegler

So cute, so innocent, so clueless. Photo by Esther Ziegler


It was before my wellness journey began. Which means we have learned a lot about ourselves and being married since then. The past four years of life and marriage have been transformational.  Phil has been a witness to the growth, healing, and change in my life, as I have been in his. People always tell you marriage is hard; they tell you how selfish you’ll realize you are, that the passion ebbs and flows, that sex and finances will be the biggest strains, and that communication is key. I’ve learned about those things, but I’ve learned so much more.

The things I’ve learned which have helped me the most are not “marriage tools.” They are my own lessons in emotional, personal and relational wellness.


My lessons are tools to become the most excellent person you can be, not just an excellent wife.


When I began on my journey to self awareness I had no clue how much this would impact my relationship. I learned how I “ticked,” I learned what made me happy, what triggered me, I learned areas where I needed healing, and I was better able to communicate my needs. Honestly, my self awareness was hard for my relationship at first because it caused a major shift in how our relationship functioned. We did not know healthy ways to understand ourselves or each other. But as I grew, I was able to communicate clearly, manage and own my own needs, and ultimately create a life-giving relationship of honesty, clarity, and fulfillment.

photo by Kinsey Mhire

photo by Kinsey Mhire


This one came from Phil. Through our journeys in counseling, healing, and personal development, we have come to seasons where one or the other was really hurting and processing. We have deconstructed our beliefs, grieved pains, and created new world-views together, yet we have done it with space and compassion. Everyone is processing  life through a different perspective and lens. Be present in the processing, but don’t try to understand everything. Give others space to process and come to peace in their own way.

Be a support, not a guide.

This requires trust, so much trust, and confidence in yourself and your relationship.


Like really listen. Dangit, this is a struggle for my mile and minute brain and mouth. I’m still practicing. Listen with the heart to understand. Be open to what they are saying and repeat back to them what you hear them saying. I like to call this “leaning in.” Lean in and be interested to people, make them feel like they matter more than anyone in the world. Trust me, listening is the greatest art. Learn more from the master of listening, Chris Lee.


Seems simple enough, yet, especially in our closest relationships we become emotionally entangled with the other person’s decisions. They reflect onto us. They affect us. If they make a mistake, it becomes personal or an attack. Learning that other people are completely separate from you, and they are responsible for their own actions is key. (The opposite of this is codependency).

There are so many things I've learned about marriage but those are the big ones from this year. Marriage tools are helpful, but I'm realizing becoming the best version of yourself will lead to your best relationships. 


The personality matrix: a podcast to help you understand yourself and others.

Know your love languages

My personal fav, The Boundaries Book

Robcast: A podcast about control in relationships.

Learn to listen by listening to this podcast.

8 TED talks that just might save your marriage.




5 ways to know if you're a safe person

With a history of gossip, betrayal, and codependency in friendship, becoming a safe person has been a journey.  

"I’ve burned through best friends like cheap running shoes..."

...and tossed people behind before ever evaluating my own behavior. I’ve discussed before how I have been a bad picker, but I’ve also not been very safe. Becoming safe is work.  Lots of trial and error and forgiveness. Through reading books, blogs, and talking with my counselor on the subject, I have come up with 5 ways to know whether I am a safe person or not.

Because before you can start eliminating people from you life, you always always have to ask yourself,

“am I safe?”

5 Ways to know if you are a Safe Person:

1. You’re true to your word

    -you choose integrity over ease

    -you are honest in the big and the small; you refrain from the occasional “white lie,” even when it would make things easier

    -your yes means yes, and your no means no (aka, you do what you say you will + know your own limitations.)

2. You welcome personal growth

    -you're open to constructive criticism

    -you are willing to change behavior when it is hurting someone

    -you are not defensive when someone expresses their feelings

    -you invite the truth about yourself, asking perspectives of trusted, loving companions.

3. You're able to be vulnerable and seen for who you are

    -you open up to people and show them the real you, not just the you that you desire people to see

    -you have people in your life who know the hard stuff going on

    -you're able to reciprocate sharing and are not just the listening ear or advice giver

    -you can ask for help

    -flattery and gossip are no longer a means for connection

4. You are able to have hard conversations

    -you have the courage to confront real issues

    -you are honest about your feelings when necessary

    -you don’t “spare” people and secretly hold a grudge

    -you can discern between picking a fight and a constructive conversation


5. You give grace

 -you can give grace to yourself

 -you can give grace to others

-you can ask for forgiveness AND receive it

-you refrain from judgement and assumptions

A safe person is a mature person. I don't believe everyone is safe 100% of the time. I slip up. You will probably slip up.  It doesn't make you unsafe to slip up. Just practice #5 and get back to it.


Here are two resources I love if you want to go deeper on the topic:


Brene Brown's Anatomy of Shame talk

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