“You have to start taking responsibility,” my exasperated dad would cry to us kids when we were younger. We would roll our eyes and mutter “whatever” as we tried to skulk away from his complaints. Whether it was leaving our stuff lying around, avoiding our chores, or being general shit heads, “taking responsibility” seemed to be what we were lacking.
Taking responsibility has been a recurring theme in things I’ve been listening to (Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School) and reading (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson).
But it’s not just about picking your stuff up and doing your chores. It’s about knowing that you are responsible for how you think, feel and act. Sure, things happen in life that are way beyond our control, but what we CAN control is how we think about those things and respond to them.
It was taking me a while to get my head around this concept. When someone suffers any kind of abuse it’s important for them to understand that it’s not their fault. And now we’re going around saying they have to take responsibility?! Mark Manson has explained this so clearly: Fault and responsibility are two different things.
Someone else may be at fault for something they have done to you, but it is your responsibility to respond appropriately to that action and move forward. Some will remain traumatised and take on the identity of a victim. Taking responsibility means accepting that even though you didn’t ask for this event to happen, it did happen, and now it’s up to you to get through it.
My theme word for the year
My personal theme for the year 2020 is “Responsibility”. I’m working on taking more responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
No more blaming other people for how I feel. Every time I catch myself resenting someone or feeling as though they have caused me hurt or inconvenience, I remind myself to take responsibility. It doesn’t matter what they have said to me – I’m the one who has taken that on and made it mean something hurtful. I’m the one who can either let it drag me down or let it go and continue living my good life. I’m the one who needs to take responsibility for my feelings.
In The Courage to be Happy by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi, they say we need to stop talking about “that bad person” or “poor me”, and instead talk about “what should I do from now on”. I love that! It’s so much more hopeful and uplifting than rehashing the crappy stuff.
Taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions, is actually super empowering. It helps me feel more in control of my life and less like a victim. But it takes work! It’s like constantly having my dad in my ear: “You have to start taking responsibility!”
A late addition to this post:
As I was finalising the draft of this post, my dog heard a noise outside our house and barked as he leapt across my lap. It scared the bejeezus out of me and I half-dropped my laptop, pressing a number of random keys as I tried to grab it. So while I’ve just told you how I’m going to stop blaming others and start taking responsibility, I do blame my dog for any random typos in this post.