Note: This is the 6th article in a 7 post series about the 7 Laws of Living a Life on Your Terms. You can find the first 5 posts at the end of this article.
It’s all your fault.
It’s your fault your business succeeded.
It’s your fault your relationship failed.
It’s your fault for being fat.
It’s your fault for being fit.
All of it is your fault.
And that’s a good thing.
To be a human being means to live with the gift of reason and logic. We’re the only animals who can reason our way through problems. The fact that we are able to reason automatically means that we must take responsibility for our reasoning.
We also need to take responsibility for choosing not to reason; for choosing to put our fate into the hands of someone else so that we can be blameless for whatever the outcome.
When I think about personal responsibility, I think about taking ownership over my life.
It’s impossible to own your life when you’re disowning your actions. Your life is, essentially, a series of actions, and to disown them is to disown yourself.
If you want to own your life, you must own your choices and your actions.
You must accept responsibility for taking care of yourself and achieving your goals.
It’s exhilarating and empowering. It gives you back full control of your life.
We aren’t helpless. We were never meant to be victims.
We victimized ourselves by choosing not to decide and choosing to live unconsciously.
Today, we’re going to reverse that decision.
Taking Responsibility For Who You Are
Do you take responsibility for yourself?
Before you answer that, how did you feel right after reading the question? Anxiety? Preparing to give an argument on all the ways in which you’re responsible? Uneasy?
Don’t just jump to a conclusion. Take a second to think about it first.
- Who made you who you are today?
- Do you accept that you’re responsibility for the overall direction of your life?
- How often do you blame others?
- Do you find yourself acting differently in order to avoid blame?
- Are you rational when you think about bad choices you’ve made in the past?
- Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you wallow?
- Do you take care of yourself? Both physically & emotionally?
- Do you accept that you are responsible for your self-esteem?
- Do you find it difficult to accept blame and/or admit mistakes?
- Can you accept the fact that the way you feel when [certain] events occur is up to you?
- How much guilt do you feel?
- Can you easily accept praise?
- Are you often taken advantage of?
- Are your romantic relationships usually disastrous?
You’re a smart person. I mean, you’re reading this blog right? So that makes you super smart. 🙂
That means you know the right answer to all these questions.
If you think you might give the wrong answer to any of the above, ask yourself what you’re doing to be so passive about the situation, and how you can become more active.
Not accepting responsibility all boils down to being passive.
Passivity is toxic to a happy life.
Becoming an active participant in your life is the path to higher self-esteem, integrity, and happiness.
So be sure to take a minute to really discover how much personal responsibility you take.
It’s likely that you take more responsibility in some areas than others. You may be very personally responsible at work, but much less responsible at home. It could be that you take more responsibility for your emotional well-being than you do for your physical well being.
Make sure to differentiate between the two, because we’re going to use them later.
The Role of Integrity in Living Responsibly
Integrity is a huge topic on A Life on Your Terms.
It ties into everything from self-esteem to living authentically.
Just like every fundamental state in life, integrity comes from within. It comes from behaving in accordance with your values.
To live responsibly, you must act with integrity. Tweet this
You cannot believe that it is essential to do productive work that you love, all the while staying at a job you hate. This leads to frustration, complaining, victimization, anger, blaming, martyrdom, self-pity, and a host of other negative emotions I wouldn’t want anywhere near me.
To live responsibly, your beliefs and actions must be in harmony with your values, no matter what.
It doesn’t matter what your mother, spouse, or society thinks.
It doesn’t matter that others have placed expectations on you that you’ve been commanded to follow.
It doesn’t matter who is holding you responsible for their well-being (parents, siblings, spouses, friends).
If you disown your own values, your disown yourself and you decide to live unconsciously. When you do that your self-esteem suffers. When that happens, your capacity to care for others is limited.
You come first. No matter what. If you’re not good. No one else around you is going to be good.
You matter. What you believe matters. What you need matters. How you feel matters.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different.
Exchange Excuses for Values
We’ve all got ’em.
Excuses are great because they absolve us of direct responsibility. They make us feel better and less weighed down by our existence.
Here are some of my favorites:
- I’m like this because my father left me 30 years ago.
- I didn’t have a choice…
- There was nothing I could do…
- It’s not my fault. I tried to…
- They made me do it.
- I had to.
- I’m obligated.
- It’s expected of me.
- Everyone does it.
- Life isn’t fair.
- I’m so unlucky.
- The universe hates me.
- I suck at life.
The list goes on and on. I was able to come up with these in 2 minutes. I’ve had a ton of practice with excuses. Up until just a few years ago, I wasn’t responsible for anything.
I always had a logical reason why something happened and why it wasn’t my fault. It made perfect sense to me and I would become outraged when anyone told me otherwise. As if I could predict the future!
Well, that wasn’t the point. We’re not omnipotent, and we’re not always able to control where suffering comes from, but self-responsibility prevents us from victimizing ourselves with regard to our own life.
Instead of avoiding responsibility and coming up with excuse after excuse, try taking responsibility and making active choices based on your values in life.
Once you know what your values are, your decisions become easier.
Once you start acting in accordance to your values, your need to make excuses or rationalize your behavior dissolves. Tweet this
You don’t need excuses anymore because you’ve got your mind. If your mind is telling you that you’re being a jerkface because, even though you value healthy relationships, you refuse to acknowledge that you’re in a relationship you hate and you just blame it on your childhood, your excuses go out the window.
I go over identifying your values in this post.
The Freedom of Responsibility
People like to talk about the freedom from responsibility.
But I think thats a crock of shit.
When you’re living responsibly, you only have to answer to yourself (your values).
On the other hand, avoiding responsibility puts the power in the hands of everyone else but yourself.
Now, instead of answering only to yourself, you answer to everyone else. The upside of this is that you also can blame everyone but yourself.
Avoiding responsibility means not having to recognize that you’re lazy, or that you see yourself as a victim of life, or that nothing will get better unless you change.
It means not having to take charge of your life, it means denying yourself of any other choice but suffering. And as we’ve already learned, suffering is easy.
Being free to make choices is hard. It’s entirely up to you to make the right ones, and there’s no one to blame if things go awry.
You have to actually think about what you really want in life when you’re free. As a slave, all of that is dictated for you.
When you’re free, you get to make the rules. When you avoid responsibility, you get to complain about the rules.
When you’re free and living responsibly, you get to decide how you will make a living. When you avoid responsibility, you get to bitch about your boss and your job.
If you want true freedom, you need personal responsibility.
Taking Responsibility for Who You Will Become
From now on, you will accept responsibility for your life.
All together now!
From now on, I will accept responsibility for my own life.
Stop looking around for others to pin your failures on. It’s not working now and it’s never going to work.
Start today by believing:
- You’re responsible for your choices and actions.
- You’re responsible for not having enough time in the day.
- You’re responsible for your mental and emotional health.
- You’re responsible for your relationships.
- You’re responsible for the way you interact with others, how you treat people, and how you deal with them.
- You’re responsible for your happiness.
- You’re responsible for your self-esteem.
- You’re responsible for bringing meaning to your life.
- You’re responsible for your financial well-being.
- You’re responsible for your intellectual development.
- You’re responsible for your emotions.
- You’re responsible for your life.
No one is coming to save you. You have to save yourself.
You must start taking responsibility for who you will become. What you were, and what you are, don’t necessarily have to matter if you don’t want them to.
Once you take responsibility for what you were and what you are, you’ve already integrated all of your learning experiences into your current self. You’ve emancipated yourself from guilt, and now you can focus on your future.
If you walk away from this post and decide you’re happy living an irresponsible life, you’re making the choice to live in denial (unless you already live responsibly!).
Maybe you think it’s too hard.
Maybe you feel like you won’t like yourself anymore.
Perhaps there’s something from your past that you wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself for.
I don’t care what it is. None of it is so bad that the best choice for you is to live the remainder of your years in the dark.
I’m not saying that you have to take personal responsibility for everything in the world. You obviously can’t control things like the weather, and accidents do happen.
The key is to take responsibility for everything you know that you can control, and refuse to take responsibility for everything you can’t control (i.e. taking responsibility for the actions of others).
You make these decisions rationally and with full consciousness.
Once you identify what you can control, you must practice being active about those situations.
Instead of saying ‘someone’s got to do something about this!’ say ‘what can I do about this?’
Instead of whining about how people are always taking advantage of you, ask your self why and how you let encourage them to take advantage of you?
Instead of stating that no one understands you, ask yourself why you prevent people from understanding you, and how you prevent it.
Don’t complain that you never succeed at anything, ask yourself why and how you cause yourself to fail.
Then act. If you find that you sabotage yourself by scaring off your investors. Don’t just say ‘I should stop scaring off my investors,’ say, ‘This is what I’m going to do to stop scaring off my investors.’
Living responsibly means focusing on you, the individual.
Your life is precious. It’s the most precious resource in the world. Don’t squander it by handing over your life to someone else.
They have no right to your life.
Unless you give them permission to your life, no one has the right to tell you how you should live.
When you decide not to live responsibility, you’re forfeiting your life.
Is there anything more cruel than giving away the only thing in this world that is 100% yours by right?
Is there anything more crazy?
Is there anything more self-destructive than to let them kill your spirit, AND create the weapon they will use to destroy you?
Promise me you won’t let it happen.