Taking personal responsibility: it’s a normal act that appears to have become a black art; a taboo even. We live in a toxic blame culture where everything is always somebody else’s fault and some people believe it is acceptable to sue a coffee vendor because they weren’t warned that their beverage would be…y’know, hot. Insert a Captain Picard facepalm meme here if you feel like it because it certainly fits.
It’s about time that we – as a society – learnt to hold our hands up, admit when we fucked something up and take some responsibility. Take responsibility for the state of your life. Take responsibility for your feelings. Take responsibility for your errors. Take responsibility for that sprog you brought into the world after choosing to play a game of Hide The Penis.
At this point, some of you may be dying to ask, “but why should I take responsibility for shit that wasn’t my fault?”. Recently I have been reading Mark Manson’s excellent book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and he makes some fantastic points about taking responsibility. What leapt out at me the most was learning to differentiate between “Responsibility” and “Fault” and realising that you must still take responsibility in some way even if a negative or unplanned event wasn’t your fault.
Events beyond your control may have caused set-backs, pain or heartache in your life but you are still ultimately responsible for responding and processing the resulting feelings while pushing on with your life. Somebody may have wronged you in some way but even if was their fault, you are responsible for how you let it affect your life going forward and whether or not you decide to dwell on negativity and anger. For a more obvious example, it may be the fault of Durex that a rubber was faulty and you accidentally became a father but you better believe that you were responsible the moment you decided to explore the interior of your lady-friend’s knickers.
That last example concerns a pretty big life-changing event and I used it because it’s actually the smaller, seemingly less significant events that people have greater trouble accepting responsibility for. The problem is that blaming somebody/something else is simply the easy way out and it feels good to absolve ourselves of fault…for a short time at least. Blaming others is a quick and easy high but one of the keys to long-term life satisfaction is learning to take responsibility for feelings, situations and events even if somebody or something else was originally at fault. Remember: you must separate “Responsibility” and “Fault”.
And as much as I may be coming across as preachy as fuck here, I’ve been just as guilty as everybody else when it comes to hurling the blame around and running from responsibility. That’s why I have been taking the advice from Mark Manson’s book onboard and trying harder to take greater responsibility for my life. For example, if somebody pisses me off then I have been accepting that it’s my responsibility not to allow that person/event to keep me down and make me feel like shit for any longer than necessary.
It’s my responsibility to go out and find more money rather than moaning about not having enough to do activity X or afford product Y. It’s my responsibility to learn from mistakes and not repeat them. It’s my responsibility to stop eating junk food and chain-drinking energy drinks if I know I’m going to feel like death later on. If I want greater success with women and dating then it’s my responsibility to up my game. I can decide to NOT do any of these things but then I don’t have the right to moan about the consequences down the line. The only person I will be accountable to is myself and no matter what bravado and bullshit I decide to project, I will KNOW the real deal and that’s what counts.
Sure, there have been external factors at work throughout my life thus far that have set me back or contributed to things not turning out the way I would have preferred (I could write a list of the damn things) but that’s where I need to separate the Fault from the responsibility to myself. Of course, there are also those times when a poor decision, mistake or collossal fuck-up HAS been my fault but the end result is the same regardless of whether the bad shit is internal or external in origin. It’s my life and I have to take responsibility.
It is difficult, I will grant that. We have been raised in a blame culture where protecting one’s ego and image trumps admitting to your shortcomings and taking responsibility for doing better next time or making amends where necessary. Switch on the TV and you will see politicians and people in authority blaming others for shit that has gone wrong. Look around you in your own life and you will see countless people jumping to blame others or announce their complete exemption from any responsibility-taking when some seriously smelly shit hits the turbo-charged fan. It’s no wonder that several generations have lost their way in this sense.
Bottom line: take fucking responsibility for your life and everything within.