It’s so easy for us to choose not to take responsibility for what happens in our own lives and try to hand that job onto other’s. For sure, taking responsibility for everything that happens to us is a scary thing and is easier said than done. After all, we’ve probably spent most of our lives not taking responsibility for everything that happens.
But there is something inherently disempowering about this approach. Unconsciously it means we are giving our power away to external forces. We are unintentionally playing the role of a victim.
“When you don’t take responsibility, when you blame others, circumstances, fate or chance, you give away your power. When you take and retain full responsibility – even when others are wrong or the situation is genuinely unfair – you keep your life’s reins in your own hands.” – Jeff Olson, Author of The Slight Edge.
That perspective which Jeff is laying out might sound extreme, very extreme. But allowing any sign of victim mentality, of hopelessness is self-defeating and disempowering. This is about being empowered. So the best perspective we can adopt here is to take full responsibility for everything that happens to us. It helps us become stress-free and in control.
Yes most things in life are ultimately out of our control. People die, we fall out of love with someone, we get sacked from a job, , we develop some sort of disease, someone takes their anger and frustration out on us, our town gets stripped away by a tornado etc etc.
This is all understandable and the fact that we cannot control everything cannot be denied. This is another freeing principle of an honest and empowered life. Knowing what we can and cannot control, letting go of what we can’t control whilst giving our full attention to what we can control. I’ll write more on this later.
The one thing we do have control over in this chaotic life is our perspective of ourselves and of the world and our actions. We can choose to either A) take responsibility and keep our power in our own hands or B) Not take responsibility and keep giving away our power and control. The choice is ours.
But falling into the victim mentality where we get stuck blaming things and people is not a place of true empowerment, it’s not a place which is going to make our experience of life more enjoyable. I’m sure from your own experiences, you have felt justified in pointing your fingers at other people when you find yourself in a predicament. I know I certainly have. And I still catch myself doing it. But every time I notice that I’m not taking responsibility for my own life, I remind myself of that quote from Jeff Olson.
Taking responsibility is empowering because it puts us in a position where we cannot play the victim. When we play the victim, life seems to be working against us, it’s like our worst tormentor just keeps making us feel powerless.
Of course it’s hard for a lot of us to take responsibility for everything that happens in our lives, we like make lots of excuses to justify but only we can make the changes in our lives, so we might as well take responsibility to whatever happens to us.
We all know what it’s like to play the victim and we now that it’s awfully disempowering.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it feels good in the short-term to give up our responsibility, to blame others for our problems. We might get a little burst of dopamine (good feelings) but in the long run we are just giving away our power. So this is obviously not a solution. No one should be responsible for our problems, and in reality no one ever is but us.
We can delude ourselves to think that we’re not responsible for what happens but this just keeps us stuck in a victim state and no positive change is really possible from this position. We are all responsible for how we deal with whatever life throws at us. It’s an inescapable fact of life.
As an example, it’s not our fault that we have walked upon a scene of a man mugging an elderly woman, but we are completely responsible for how we act in this situation. Whether that’s leaving the woman to defend for herself against the mugger or doing something about it. Making a decision to help her.
The truth is that we really want to be responsible because by not being responsible, we are sending a message to our subconscious mind that we don’t really have any control over our lives and it has the power to decide for us. This my friends is what creates a disempowered life for ourselves. On the other hand, we keep the power in our hands by taking full responsibility for all the things we normal don’t want to take responsibility for.
Feel the enormous sense of peace and power that arises in you when you make a decision to take full responsibility. Think about all of the things you are not taking responsibility for and decide to change that. Now of course, we don’t want to go completely over the top and try to take responsibility for things that are factually out of our control, but for the things which we normally don’t take responsibility for and are actually in our control, we can decide to be fully responsible because this will empower us.
If we are used to pointing the blame out there in the external world, then it’s going to feel a little unnatural at first to finally be held responsible for whatever situation or outcome that we find ourselves in. A good exercise to practice whenever we find ourselves not taking responsibility is to question if it is possible for us to take responsibility in this situation or whether it’s actually not possible to.
By asking ourselves this question we can honestly see whether we are giving up our control by not taking responsibility or keeping our control by taking full responsibility. And if it’s really something that we cannot take responsibility for then we have a good enough excuse to not doing so. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for not taking responsibility either. We can just accept the fact that taking responsibility was not possible in this situation and so we can let it go.