Today’s blog post on Personal Responsibility is from Dayspring Counselor Rance Berry. Enjoy!
One of the basic rules of our society is that we take responsibility for our own lives. However, responsibility is one of the hardest things for a lot of people to master. Being responsible for our lives and decisions calls for each of us to be aware of our own faults and shortcomings. In other words, we have to emotionally look at ourselves in the mirror, so to speak, and point out the flaws that we see. This is often hard to do.
When we take an honest look at ourselves, our initial reaction is to run from what we see or what we have done. This reminds me of a certain character on a 90’s sitcom who whenever he did anything that resulted in calamity or destruction, the first words he uttered were not “I’m sorry” but “Did I do that?” (You just said it in the Steve Urkel voice didn’t you?)
Guard Against Your Own Defense
Our brain has several ways of coping with things. A defense mechanism is a process in the brain that makes you forget or ignore painful or disturbing thoughts and situations or a reaction in your body that protects against disease or danger. We all have them.
One professional athlete was being interviewed regarding the issues he was having with several teammates during the course of his career. When it was suggested that he may be the cause of his problems, he said, “I love me some Me!” While this individual was an amazing athlete, he could never understand or see that he was creating problems for his team and himself. It was always someone else’s fault. He was beaten by his own defense.
Even when we know we’re wrong, we want to feel right. This is where defensiveness comes into play. This defensiveness can cause us to blame others and harm, if not destroy, relationships. All the while, the problems we are creating never get solved. Be careful to not let your own defense beat you. Take personal responsibility.
Confront and Challenge
If we are to grow from shifting blame to others, we have to confront these defense mechanisms that are constantly pointing the finger at other things and other people. We may want to believe people and circumstances are the “real reason” we are not getting things done in our lives. This is rarely the case.
A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbor came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”
“No thanks,” replied the man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”
“No thanks,” the man said. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”
Once again, the man said, “No thanks. I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
All this time the floodwaters continued to rise until soon they reached above the roof and the man drowned. When he arrived at heaven, he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me. I trusted you to save me from that flood.”
“Yes you did my child,” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”
This story is a perfect example of pushing the blame for our decisions. The religious man could not see how his decisions impacted his life despite the very blatant reminders that his life was in danger. Our natural inclination is to run from the things that we perceive as a danger. Responsibility does not allow us to ignore the elephant in the room. We have often heard the statement “I am the way that I am and that is not going to change” or “I have always been this way.” The question we need to ask ourselves is “How is this working for me?”
Be Brutally Honest
Responsibility comes with us acknowledging the ways we fall short. Process the emotions that surround. It’s ok to admit that you are not good at something. There is power in knowing that you are not perfect. (Despite what your Sunday suit and sunglasses tell you.)
Perfection is an illusion. You have flaws just like me. They will show up. Remember in all of this is that you are responsible for YOUR decisions and behavior. Once you truly get this and stop blaming others, you can make different decisions.