Personal responsibility seems pretty simple. Take responsibility for the things you do. Done. However, it’s not that simple. Personal accountability is necessary but, at times, can be somewhat difficult. The truth is, we all would like to at least partially blame someone else besides ourselves. Accepting personal responsibility means that I take ownership of my thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Our thoughts are under our control. We can think what we want and believe what we want. We do have a choice. A lot of times, we regard thoughts as something imposed on us. We blame someone else for the thought with statements like, “You made me think this or that.” However this isn’t true.
Our thoughts are attempts to reconcile what we believe with what is going on right now. So every good, bad, or indifferent thought is mine and all mine. Modifying your thoughts will help you feel better, but will also help you accept personal responsibility. Examining our thoughts and correcting the irrational parts will help prevent us from having extreme emotions and behavior.
Here’s the easiest part to blame on others. When we make a mistake or all-out bad decision, we believe telling them how they made us feel gives us an escape. It allows us to express a reason we did the thing we did. In other words, we justify our actions by our emotions. “If you hadn’t made me feel this or that then I wouldn’t (or would have) have done _____________.”
Our emotions start in our thoughts. Since we are responsible for our thoughts, guess what? Exactly! We’re responsible for managing our emotions as well. Thinking differently can change our emotions. You and I are responsible for that – no one else!
Personal responsibility means understanding that I am the only source of thoughts, which lead to emotions, which influence behavior.
This should be the easiest part. We can readily see how we are responsible for what we actually do. All of us make our own decisions. This is true regardless of most circumstances. I only say most circumstances because there are a few situations wherein we could be forced into doing something we wouldn’t normally do. We make decisions about what we do – both good and bad.
Behavior can be seen. The evidence is right in front of us. Yet, we deflect responsibility. Personal responsibility for my actions means I don’t blame the behavior of others, statements of others, or how others influenced me. I did it. Just me. Shifting blame to other circumstances or other persons is a way for me to feel better about myself. It will work for that, but it won’t do anything to help us take personal responsibility for our lives.
Think about the last time you had a discussion about something you did. Did you blame anyone or anything? Of course you didn’t blame them for what you did. Did you blame anyone for your thoughts? How about your emotions?
Personal responsibility means understanding that I am the only source of thoughts, which lead to emotions, which influence behavior. The good news is – you are in control of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior – no one else. The bad news is – you are the only one in control of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. You can’t put it off on someone else.
What things have helped you accept personal responsibility for situations in times when you would have preferred to blame others or circumstances? Feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you.