Personal Responsibility

I was thinking today about how easy it is for us to blame others for circumstances in our lives. It’s common practice to blame parents, and I, like many others, have done this, but as JK Rowling, quoted on Goodreads.com, says,

There is an expiry date for blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you.

Some peoples’ experience of parental influence is obviously different to others. Abuse of a child, in any way, obviously makes it harder for the child to have the confidence to change direction, or sometimes, to have a direction at all. Even so, nobody can actually change direction for someone else. The desire ultimately has to come from the person who has lost their way.

Steve Brunkhorst says on the website boxingscene.com that,

Responsibility means being accountable for what we think, say, and do. Personal responsibility involves working on our own character and skill development rather than blaming others for situations and circumstances. It means choosing to design a life that honors our values and purpose.

Whenever we make a choice, we are responsible for the consequences. If we fail to choose, we are making a choice by default. If we stand by and watch a crime, for example, without taking any action, we have made a choice to let the criminal get away with it.

Our power to change our own life is affected by whether or not we take responsibility for it, or as Steve Maraboli says,

The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.

In one way, this makes us tied to the person or persons that we blame because in our mind, only they can free us from the circumstances. In fact, we are never truly independent until we take responsibility for our own life.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Laura M Stack MBA, says,

The real meaning of responsibility is the ability to respond. It’s going out and creating what you want through personal choices

She continues by saying that we are quite happy to accept responsibility for things when they turn out well, but tend to blame others when they are not going so well. As she points out, there are external things, over which we have no control that can affect our lives but even so, circumstances are not what make us happy or unhappy. Two people in the same difficult situation may respond in completely different ways.

First and foremost, we have to accept responsibility for our own life.