Historian and writer Thomas Carlyle once said “The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” One of the most empowering choices you can make is taking personal responsibility for what you think, say, and do.
Taking personal responsibility means to consciously embrace our lives as a reflection of our thoughts, choices, and reactions, rather than to view ourselves as perpetual victims, helpless and powerless to what “inevitably” happens to us or to our inescapable nature.
Free will is a divine gift because when used well, it activates blessings, miracles, and favor. Instead of getting caught up in finding who’s fault it is or blaming everything in everyone but ourselves, we can learn valuable lessons that add expanded WISDOM, STRENGTH, PEACE, and COMPASSION to our emotional and spiritual toolkit, and even break generational cycles of erratic results and misery.
It’s no secret that there are indeed plenty of situations we cannot control… and we certainly cannot control other people. However, we are 100% free to choose our response to those people or events.
I’m sure you know people who have gone through the same challenges, or have lived the exact same tragedy, or have the same disability, yet they adopt opposite attitudes.
A mommy mentee of mine was once buried in so much debt that it was affecting her relationships, her sanity, and her own self-worth. I guided her toward baby steps to getting her head above water, then back to the safe shore.
She was “SICK OF HER CREDITORS!!!” she would complain… and I challenged that. I explained I view my creditors as a blessing: not everyone is extended credit; and many people don’t have the luxury of electricity, running water, and so forth. I was raised in a slum, so it is definitely something that I know from personal experience.
I encouraged my student to send them blessings, keep communication flowing, negotiate and, moving forward, use the golden rule of bills, which I made up: pay others as you would like others to pay you.
It was certainly easier to blame her creditors than to look at the choices she made to get into debt, whether conscious or unconscious, but blaming didn’t serve her and was keeping her stuck.
Personal responsibility requires us to stare at the huge log in our own eye [Matthew 7:5] and stop blaming everything and everyone for what we see as misfortune.
This mentality of taking personal responsibility, and other mindset tools she and I have worked through has empowered her to create more abundance for her and her family, free of GUILT and OVERWHELM!
But you may be saying, well, I can understand that, but what about when we didn’t choose something that happened to us? I get it. I have experienced plenty of heartache because of someone else’s choices.
I didn’t decide what kind of mom I would have. I didn’t choose to be raised in extreme poverty. I didn’t choose for my parents to get a divorce when I was 10. I didn’t choose to be kidnapped and sexually assaulted when I was a teenager. I didn’t choose to be in a coma for 8 days. I didn’t choose to be abandoned with two toddlers. I didn’t choose to be betrayed by my spouse. Oh… and I could go on…
Although, we don’t choose what events we experience or how others treat us, we choose how we react. Your trials can either make you better or make you bitter.
I once read this on one of Wayne Dyer’s social media accounts:
“Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period.”
We often let conditions, circumstances and other people define us and forget what God says about us. You are stronger, more powerful, and fierce than you can ever imagine. You are meant to be more!
The Secret To Master The Lost Art Of Taking Personal Responsibility
ART is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” so it’s all about doing what works for you. Here are some suggestions on how you can consciously create and design a life rich in personal responsibility:
Get CLEAR on what you really want and what is meaningful to you. Write down a vision of what you want to experience in all areas of your life.
Ask yourself: What would happen if I took 5% more personal responsibility in this area? This will help you realize what the payoff will be even for small changes you can instantly make.
Eliminate any Excuses you have been telling yourself to distort reality: catch yourself justifying and rationalizing and decide to own up to your part in the situation. When you drop the story and come from a place of love and grace, you can discern what you will correct or change, and what you will let go of.
Let me be clear, though: not everything that prevents you from taking a step is an excuse. I don’t subscribe to the motivational guilt movement in which you are made wrong for taking care of yourself and having different priorities. Taking personal responsibility doesn’t mean constantly beating yourself up.
Everyone has a journey to travel and so what I’m saying is once you are sure you’re on the right path for you, that you consciously examine what is preventing you from making progress and that you determine what you can do, while both challenging yourself and giving yourself grace. Does that make sense?
You want to then think about – and write down – some options on what next step you could take.
Lastly, you want to choose what resonates with you and commit by putting down a date when you will take action on it.
SMILE! Personal responsibility is a learned discipline and it can remove heavy emotional burdens like worry, uncertainty, guilt, overwhelm, and shame, bringing you peace of mind, self-confidence, and earned respect. Whew!
When you take personal responsibility, you can learn a lesson that is valuable to you and the you can teach others. Win-win-win! YAY!
What is your definition of taking personal responsibility? Share with us in the comments below!
This post was first published on April 2014 and was updated for accuracy.