The Importance of Accepting Responsibility

One of the first things I notice about people when they show up at my office is how much responsibility they are willing to accept. Much like the locus of control, where we place responsibility is everything. It tells us a little more than our locus of control though. It often helps us see how we view other people and tells us how much insight we have. It is also one of the most important things in the process of change.

When I meet someone who firmly places even a majority of the blame on other people, especially if that person is their spouse, I immediately realize there is some heavy lifting to do before we can get to any sort of cosmetic change in their life.

Lack of Responsibility

For years and years, I placed all the blame for the things that were in my life on other people. They were all jerks and assholes and just didn’t get it, man. I was trying to do the right things, I was trying to do better, they were making it impossible for me. This applied to friends, family, bosses, coworkers, the police, everyone. I never – and I think I can honestly use never here – looked for my responsibility in situations because I honestly thought I didn’t have any. There was always an excuse. I always found the thing someone else could have done and used it to excuse myself.

I felt I was powerless in life because I was. By refusing to accept responsibility I was giving away any power I had the second it appeared.

Looking for Responsibility

I have yet to see a situation in which one person was completely at fault. I rarely even see an 80/20 split, and when I do it is because there is a significantly disordered person in the relationship. The most important thing I learned about responsibility is that looking for my responsibility in every situation keeps my focus where it should be, on the things I can control. It keeps me from wasting time trying to sort out who is responsible for what. I try to look at what I did, see what’s my fault (regardless what the other person did, my response is always my own) and correct it.

This has nothing to do with the other person apologizing or not. This has nothing to do with them at all.  If I stay firmly on my side of the street I don’t really have to worry about what other people do and I don’t have to worry about what I will do because it is intentional. I can be who I want to be regardless of how other people are acting.

Where could you be accepting more responsibility in life?

Where are you blaming someone else for your actions or your response?

What would it look like to own these things?