On Responsibility

There is a difference between ‘fault’ and ‘responsibility’ that we often overlook today.

You are shaped by forces largely out of your control. As a child, you were stamped with experience, and were very limited in your perception of that experience. Psychological problems, repeating cycles that you notice yourself going through, and even negative personalities you may be attracted to–all can usually be traced back to something that happened when you were younger.

We can even take extreme cases: child abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, and sexual abuse. These are all the fault of someone other than yourself, and they can manifest as self-sabotage, low self-esteem, and addictive behaviors.

It is right to take an objective view here, and understand that these negative tendencies in yourself are not your fault.

But there is a danger in dwelling on the past and blaming others for your current problems. Although an individual may be at fault for something that happened, you allow that person to continue hurting you when you see yourself as a victim and not as a responsible adult who can take actions necessary for improvement.

Responsibility means “the ability to form a response.” It’s not your fault that you were molested by a parent, for example. But it is your responsibility as an adult to take the initiative and seek help where you need it, or build your self-esteem, get out of negative behaviors, and rectify your life to your ability.

That’s hard to hear for a lot of us. Our culture is quick to call “victim blaming.” But blame and responsibility are fundamentally different.

In The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey discusses what he calls “The Circle of Influence” vs. “The Circle Of Concern.”

Your influence extends to those things that you can directly control: in other words, those responses you are able to provide in any given situation. That’s your responsibility.

What is outside of your control, like the past and other people, is simply not your responsibility. Everything in this group is your circle of concern. Covey’s point, though, is that you needlessly burden yourself by having concern over things you cannot control.

What’s the point? Blaming others for current faults alleviates you from the responsibility we have to better ourselves to the best of our ability. It does no good to dwell in the past, as a victim.

Of course, when you are victimized, you ARE a victim, and we should never make ourselves or others feel like it’s the victims’s fault for what others do.

But you must consider what is within your scope to rectify your situation. That’s your responsibility as an adult. And obviously, what I’m saying here applies to adults, not children. We need to teach our children responsibility, but we cannot expect them to act like fully responsible adults.

Blaming others for your current problem, regardless of fault, paralyzes you from making the best decisions for yourself. Put yourself first, and don’t be a victim.

Victims are passive; responsible adults are proactive.

Namaste, and subscribe if you’d like more content like this.

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