Humans spend a lot of time trying to avoid taking responsibility for our actions, our words, and our decisions. These three obligations are what many adults wish would vanish. I propose we examine these oft avoided responsibilities we all have experienced in our lives, and find different ways of dealing with them by grasping them to ourselves as friends instead of as enemies to circumvent.
It is human nature to want to blame someone else when we become unhappy or meet with difficulties in our lives. One might blame the police officer, for instance, when we get a ticket for speeding. What is the truth behind the camouflage we throw up to make ourselves seem better in our own and other people’s eyes?
Psychologists have studied this phenomenon of humanity, and have discovered at least one reason why we would rather blame something or anyone else but ourselves for our actions.
The phenomena I am speaking of is blaming someone or something else for our actions, has been determined to be a defense mechanism. When you displace blame onto something or someone else, you are protecting your sense of who you are, and avoiding facing head-on your own flaws and failings.
It is only when we are totally honest with ourselves, that we can beat this seemingly insidious behavior. We must look at what WE did to cause the speeding ticket, instead of trying to push our responsibility off onto the officer who arrested us. Were we speeding? The police officer would not have bothered to pull you over, had you not been going too fast. In the long run, it is better for your self-esteem and ego to admit your wrongs, and to accept the consequences for your actions. Pushing off onto someone else your responsibility weakens you, and lays you open for ridicule.
There are two ways a person can harm themselves and others with their words, by telling a lie and by using words as a weapon.
Everyone lies. That is a fact of life that many would love to deny. However, when we lie to escape the consequences of our actions, we are doing great harm to ourselves and others. Even lies of omission can be damaging. One of the reasons lies are so harmful, is that not only have we harmed our reputations when and if we are found out, but our self-esteem loses power. We tend to look at ourselves even more negatively than others, and to be caught in a lie shakes our self-concept to the core. Not only this, but the cascading effect of one lie to cover another is exhausting.
It is much simpler and much better for our self-image to own up to a fabrication we have told. Taking responsibility for what we have said leads to greater power within and without ourselves.
Words are a very painful and destructive weapon. Yelling and scolding someone else may feel good for a moment, but once words are spoken, they cannot ever be unspoken. There are numerous studies about how words spoken as tools for harm have destroyed lives.
The way to end this harmful behavior is to listen to what you are saying, and to weigh your words more carefully. Are you saying what you are to make an important and vital point, or are you trying to hurt someone’s feelings and tear them down? With practice, a person can end this horrendous blame game with words.
We all make thousands of decisions every day. From the time we open our eyes in the morning, until we go to bed at night, we are inundated with choices and their subsequent outcomes. Most of these decisions are benign, and our lives are not shaped by them, but some are enormous and can lead to either happiness or failure.
Allowing ourselves to take responsibility for our decisions without carrying a load of regret, takes a lot of self-understanding and examination. While there is no need to squander our time feeling ashamed or lost because we didn’t turn right when we turned left, we are obligated to remember that what decisions we make that affect ourselves or others are our responsibility. We should always hold ourselves accountable for whatever we have decided.
When you own your decisions, you make yourself very powerful both in mind and spirit. Saying to yourself that you did something wrong, without allowing yourself to indulge in self-pity, is a tremendous mark of strength. Once you have owned what you decided, you can examine it honestly and try to learn from what worked and what didn’t to improve your performance in the future.
Taking responsibility for every aspect of our lives is indeed a difficult concept to grasp, but the rewards of doing so are enormous. One will find that not only do we hold ourselves in higher regard, but that other people around us will think of us as a stable and conscientious person. By taking responsibility for our actions, words and decisions, our sense of owning our lives will increase and we will feel empowered.