Accepting personal responsibility is the truest hallmark of maturity. Yet, it’s easier said than done. Especially now where we live in a society that speaks about freedom without any regard for consequences or responsibility. In this article, we’ll talk about how to embrace whatever cards you’re dealt with.
What Does Accepting Personal Responsibility Mean?
Life gives you and I and everyone you’ll meet different cards. Some have it easy, having silver spoons in their mouth. While others struggle to make ends meet. For most of us, we lie somewhere in between. But we all experience hardships some of the time.
Accepting personal responsibility means learning to embrace what life gives you and turning it into something beautiful. It means welcoming the struggles and getting stronger by carrying your burdens so that others can depend on you, too. It’s a lifelong practice and the only rewards are the higher chance to find meaning and the opportunity to matter.
In short, it means getting your act together. It means growing to be the person who can take hardships and not redirect them on anyone else. It’s knowing that, whether we like it or not, life is hard. But you can train to be stronger and make the world a little bit better while you’re here.
It may seem cheesy and romanticized. But so what? The alternative of letting someone else carry your weight and living a mediocre life is even direr.
Why Is Personal Responsibility Important?
Accepting that you are responsible (at least) for your own life can make your existence meaningful. Most people just want to enjoy and live for the moment. This is why we see a lot of dysfunctional relationships and families. We see parents who, instead of taking care of their kids, put too much focus on their enjoyment and pleasure.
Embracing your own responsibilities bring you humongous benefits mentally and emotionally. But it’s not entirely selfish. Once you learn how to do it, some of those maturity splashes on other people, too. You become a sort of an inspiration to others, showing them a better path to walk on.
We live in a world where it’s all too easy to say that you’re doing just fine just the way you are. But this is nothing but a mental candy – advice that’s good on the outside but has zero nutritional value. It’s what we want to hear, but often, it’s not what we need.
Sometimes, you and I need to be reminded that we need to get our acts together. To accept responsibilities for our own life, our own little corner in this world, and make it better. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s something you and I both need.
What Personal Responsibility Looks Like
It’s different for everybody since we all have different struggles in life, no matter what your age is. Kids, for example, have kid-sized struggles. I have a nephew whose problems revolve around online classes and building things on Roblox. On the flip side, you and I have adult-sized ones while older people have aged-people problems.
Of course, there are things that happen to all of us. For instance, getting fired from a job or losing a client. That’s a hard thing to accept, especially when the reason for you losing your job is the pandemic. It’s out of your control. But just because you lost your job doesn’t mean that you’ll stop looking for a source of income.
I had this conversation with a barber a few weeks ago. She told me that when the lockdowns were implemented by the government, most of her coworkers were laid off. She, on the other hand, wasn’t. But she had to wait for more than 3 months without any salary and not knowing if she’ll still have her job tomorrow. What she did was amazing: she started buying and selling things online and she earned enough money to continue making a living.
You can also see this trait in people who chase after goals. No one compels you to cast a personal vision and work towards it. You can pretty much put it off and procrastinate on your dreams. It’s safe, comfortable, and doesn’t lead to heartbreaks. But those who take on responsibility won’t. They aim for something and put in the effort to make their lives better for themselves. And then for others, too.
Personal Responsibility Vs. Victim-Blaming and Self Blame
There’s a difference between showing people to accept personal responsibility and victim-blaming. For one, victim-blaming is putting all the fault on the victim’s shoulder. It’s never a good thing because it discounts the part of the abuser. In the end, the only thing that victim-blaming accomplishes is justifying the fault of the offender.
Personal Responsibility is about accepting that things happened in the past. It’s learning how to process the trauma and knowing that you can overcome and grow from the pain. Aside from this, it prevents you from developing the “victim mentality” and its crippling effects. It allows you to embrace the fact that in life, there are things within your control and outside of it. But you choose to focus on things you can influence.
While we’re on this topic, let’s talk about something that resembles victim-blaming: self-blame. Not everything that happens to you is your fault. You are not a loser. You are not hopeless. And you are not weak or incapable so don’t blame yourself. There’s a better way to see and appreciate your situation – whatever it may be. That is by asking yourself the question, “What did I do to contribute to this situation? And how can I prevent it from happening in the future?”
You see, when you blame yourself, you’re putting your focus on the wrong thing. You’re giving up control and worse, it lowers your self-esteem. Remember, the way you talk to yourself can make or break how you feel about yourself. By asking this simple question (and others just like it) will shift your perspective and change your life for the better.
Where Does Personal Responsibility End?
It’s the same as the right of others: your right ends where the right of others begins. Your personal responsibility ends outside of you – on things you can’t control. This includes other people, situations, what the society does or believes or says, and so on.
The curious thing is when you focus on things within the bounds of your influence, the bounds of your influence expand. In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, he said:
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase. Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts on the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.
Personal responsibility starts with you and ends at the edge of your control. You can control your thinking, manage your emotions, and choose your actions. But not those of other people. Once you practice that, it expands to your family, then your community, and to a larger extent.
Personal Responsibility in the Bible
As Christians, we are commanded to take responsibility for our own lives. In Galatians 6:5-6, the apostle Paul wrote, “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” This applies not just to our work, but also to all aspects of our life.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” As a follower of Christ, I need to “deny myself” (i.e. not just indulge in my own pleasure) but also to take my own cross. To take up my burdens and responsibilities and carry those as I follow Him.
This is impossible to do all the time since I am just as imperfect as you are. Sometimes, it’s easier to deny our responsibilities or run from them. But at the end of the day, nothing good comes from that. I mean, you and I can only run away for some time until our responsibilities catch up to us. And by then, they’re bigger and meaner and usually hurts.
Accepting responsibility is important since it allows us to practice our faith. When we take on responsibility, especially new and big ones, we have doubts if we could ever live up to that. It’s in that state of “doubt” that we can be courageous and strengthen our faith.
Benefits Of Accepting Personal Responsibility
Learning to accept and bear your own “cross” is good for your own gain. Before it benefits others, it nurtures your well-being first. Here’s why:
Increase Your Confidence
When you know you can take on hard blows that life brings, it gives you a certain kind of confidence no one can take away. You’ll experience a certain level of peace that can’t be faked. That’s why those who’ve been victims of abuse before and overcame it has such strong conviction. We can’t help but be in awe of what they’ve become in spite of what they’ve been through.
Consider Oprah. As a child (from nine to 12 years old), she was raped by her 19-year old cousin. Back then she was so innocent, she had no concept of sex, more so of rape. She run away from her abusive home at 13, and a year after, she got pregnant. But her son was born premature and died.[*]
Over the course of her career, she encountered many different problems. Challenges, you might say. She overcame physical and sexual abuse, failure in her career as a reporter, and creating a movie that flopped. But today, she’s a billionaire philanthropist, entrepreneur, and a household name. Why? Because she took something that’s messed up and made something beautiful from it.
You Become Dependable
When others see that you take responsibility for your actions, words, or situations, they begin to trust you more. They see you as someone who follows through, someone who they can depend on. Couple this with the skill of making people feel safe and you become a powerhouse of a person.
Being dependable is about helping others carry their burdens, too. When was the last time someone listened to you without any judgment? Or someone helped you with something without expecting anything in return? How did you feel? I bet good, right? So good that we want to pay them back or pay it forward by doing something good, too.
Now imagine being on the other side of the stick: the giver. The doer of the good. It makes others feel good and restores their faith in humanity. At the end of the day, it makes the world a little better. You give a little more color to the lives of others, which I believe deep in my heart, is one of the reasons why we’re here.
Growth Begins At The Start Of Responsibility
When we were young, the things we want to do were done for us. But we shouldn’t expect that as we grow, it’s what’s still going to happen. The transition between being a child and being an adult (at least a young one) is learning how to accept responsibility. It starts with you taking bigger and bigger tasks and learning how to handle them.
Now, that’s a literal example, something that we all go through. But it’s true with our mental and emotional maturity as well. The kicker is, growth in other aspects of our life comes only by choice. And with that choice comes sacrifice.
For example, choosing to marry means sacrificing all the things you do when you’re single. It means being “one” with your partner. Choosing to follow a career where your strengths shine means sacrificing a safe and secured job you have right now.
Taking on responsibility is scary. Everything worthwhile in life is. They have to be. Otherwise, life couldn’t shape our character the way it ought to be.
Live an inspired life,