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  • Writer's pictureWarren Mitchell

The Four Anchors of Psychological Ownership-Responsibility

We will focus on taking ownership of our wellbeing. We will not allow life, people, situations, not even ourselves to get the best of us during the next few articles. This week, we are focusing on the first of what I’m calling the Anchors of Psychological Ownership. They can also be seen as ways to help you be more responsible to better manage or stabilize your internal mood:

The First Anchor:

We are responsible for our thoughts (perspective and beliefs), our emotions or emotional stability, our attitudes and our behavior (including how we choose to cope with challenges and express our emotions).

We tend to focus on areas we have no control to fix a problem and pay less attention to the areas we have more control and responsibility. We have control over what we are responsibility for. We can only attempt to influence others, not control them. Below is a brief description of each of the areas we are responsible for.

Our Thoughts (Perception and Beliefs)

These are internal controls we have responsibility over. What we allow ourselves to constantly think about or what we accept as true and how important these are to us are key. How we choose to look at a situation is significantly influenced by what we value or believe to be true. Our thoughts or cognitive processing, are at the root of why we react emotionally to a situations or a people in the way we do. The cognitive processing begins with our perception. It is the process of collecting information from what we are observing from the external environment (what is happening outside of us) and or our internal environment (our memories, values, beliefs, emotions and attitudes).


Our emotions are reactions to how our perception and beliefs relate to reality. This statement is related to the second anchor. Emotions are either the pleasing aroma of satisfaction or delight or smoke signals from the friction created when what is happening is not what we expect or prefer.


Our attitudes are directly linked to your emotions and how we choose to behave. Attitudes includes two main inputs. They are our thinking or cognitive functioning and our emotions or affect. It also has one output, our behavior which includes our coping skills or emotional reaction or response related to how we perceive the triggering event.  If we feel good, our attitude will be positive, or at least content or calm. If we feel uncomfortable, irritated or scared, this can lead to having a negative attitude.

Positive attitude puts us in a better position to be more optimistic, express confidence, be in a good mood and even more open to the unexpected.

A negative attitude influences us to be more pessimistic, less interested with interacting with others, more easily frustrated and build resentment towards others or life itself.

Attitudes could even be neutral. In this space, people are not easily triggered by events, no matter the outcome. They appear to be indifferent to what is going on and unemotional. They appear detached or disconnected from life.


Our behavior is influenced by our attitude and how we choose to deal with situations that either go our way or not. Coping skills make up a significant amount of our behavior. The coping skills that are triggered and become available for us to stabilize an uneasy feeling, are linked to the type of attitude we allow to take over our mood. Negative attitudes are associated with negative coping skills and positive attitudes are connected to positive coping skills, which we then act out to deal with easing the discomfort we are feeling based on how we perceived the situation that is taking or has taken place, externally, internally or both.


Based on this process of events, it becomes easier to see that it is not the situation or person that caused us to act or behave how we did. Every encounter begins with an external or internal condition or circumstance. It is from there, our engagement with the condition that we must take ownership.  Our responsibility begins with how we perceive the event and measured it against our values and beliefs. Based on our perception, we may experiencing some measure of comfort or discomfort, which is expressed in the emotions we feel. This results in triggering an attitude and associated coping or stabilizing habit that we then act out.

It is vital that we own our stuff, our struggles and our pain in order to effect change in our favor. It is the best way for us to not allow life and others to get the best of us. We must own our part and give in the the victim mindset that blame others for what they say or do or didn’t say or do.

The Challenge

I am challenging you slow down, take a step back and observe any negative mood you may be experiencing. Observe how this mood or attitude influences how you behave. Then take a look at what the triggering situation this mood is reacting to and ask yourself, “What is it about what is happening I am allowing to upset me?” Or, “Why am I allowing what this person is saying or doing to irritate me?” Pay attention to your beliefs about what you expect or think should be happening or what your prefer to be happening. The pain or discomfort you are feeling is most likely related to you not accepting reality for what it is.

Don’t be so quick to want to make reality what you expect or prefer it to be. Learn to accept reality for what it is before attempting to change it how you think is should be. The discomfort you are experiencing could be based on how you are perceiving what is happening or the belief you are using to guide your perception and behavior. This may be what needs to change, rather than what you don’t have control over. Take ownership of the responsibility of your wellbeing. Check your thoughts, emotional stability, attitude or behavior.

Stay tuned for Anchor Two.

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