Do you own up to your actions? Do you ever feel personally responsible for your life? Responsibility is a heavy word and personal responsibility can be seriously challenging. But it is also the secret to success and happiness.
What do we mean by personal responsibility?
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” – Jim Rohn
Personal or individual responsibility refers to our ability to choose, manifest, change and control our own life. It means that we socially acknowledge the fact that we are morally and legally accountable for our actions and their consequences. However, this can be easier said than done as various factors, like early childhood experiences, tend to influence our ability to be responsible. In fact, studies have found that adverse childhood experiences, such as parental maltreatment, can significantly impact adulthood personality traits. Hence, we may consider certain mitigating circumstances for our behaviors.
Regardless, being responsible is crucial as it impacts our thoughts, words, behaviors, actions, decisions and choices. Moreover, it allows us to be self-aware and prevents us from blaming others for our own mistakes. Perhaps, this is the reason why taking personal responsibility feels so challenging. It makes us look away from external factors, kicks our victim mentality out of the window and compels us to understand what we may have done wrong. And that can be hard for most of us. However, on the flip side, when you ARE personally responsible, you can take better control of your own life and your physical & mental health. It makes you more confident, conscientious and honest.
Do we have to take personal responsibility?
I mean, is it really that important? Some people seem so happy blaming others for their own mistakes. Why do YOU have to be so morally and legally accountable and liable for yourself? What’s the big deal, right? The big deal is the dramatic change you will observe in your life once you start taking responsibility. By owning up to your actions and their consequences, you take charge of your life. You drastically shift your perception of reality and play an active role in the formation of your environment. This not only affects you positively, but others around you as well. It takes strength and courage to take responsibility which rebuilds your personality and character driving you towards personal growth.
When we avoid individual responsibility, we trap ourselves in an endless poisonous loop of self-victimization, blame, self-criticism and shame. We lack self-awareness and self-acceptance which affects our self-esteem and confidence. We not only break our connection with our positive self, we become detached from others who challenge us to be better. But you can strengthen that connection and rewrite your entire story simply by being more responsible. Responsibility indicates choice – a choice to respond to challenges positively. It puts you in charge of the show. It empowers you to avoid negative thoughts and emotions, like anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show that personal and social responsibility positively influences our basic psychological needs, motivation and our intention to be physically active. In fact, research has also found that individuals with personality traits that make them more responsible experience higher levels of success and life satisfaction. That sounds like a big deal to me.
Why we lack personal responsibility
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.” – Albert Schweitzer
There is no specific reason why we deny responsibility. For some it can be an intense fear of failure or conscious or unconscious self-denial, while for some others it can be poor habits or even laziness. However, most of us often feel overwhelmed when we are asked to take responsibility for ourselves as we feel we are not capable of dealing with the scope of the situation. This can stem from a lack of self-confidence, poor self-esteem and self-doubt. Lack of self-awareness also plays an important contributing role here. Influenced by our distorted beliefs and perceptions and motivated by a lack of connection with our core values and needs, we evade individual responsibility as we lack a strong sense of self-worth. As we feel we have no control over our lives, we start believing that we are not important enough. This further eats away our motivation to take charge of our lives.
Are you avoiding self-responsibility?
If you are wondering whether you are being responsible enough for yourself or not, here are some signs of avoiding accountability that you need to watch out for –
- You have a victim mentality and feel victimized & powerless even when it’s your own fault.
- You are prone to shifting blames on others when things go wrong, whether deliberately or unintentionally.
- You tend to make up excuses frequently in negative situations to shirk personal responsibility
- You love to complain….a lot as it is easier than taking charge and fixing your life.
- You desperately avoid challenges & risks and look for people who can help you overcome this.