Too often, we use the term 'responsibility' in a burdensome way -- as though it negatively bears fault, culpability, and liability whenever we use it. In many ways (especially grammatically-so...), I suppose it can. I contend, however, that there is freedom, empowerment, and phenomenal personal growth to be found in claiming and owning responsibility as well.
There's a quote from Hal Elrod that has stuck with me in regards to responsibility, and the way I now look at it,
"The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life."
These words carry so much meaning because they uncover the true nature of responsibility. We are ultimately responsible for every action, reaction, emotion, and response that we go through in our lives. There may be perceived external pressure or effect, but how we behave, feel, and act are choices solely made by ourselves. So, yes, I'm saying that the especially "annoying" barista at the local coffee shop is not responsible for making you feel annoyed. You are.
By externalizing responsibility, we project blame outwardly and assign fault. We become the victim in any given scenario, where we are subject to the whims and torments of the outside world. Have you ever heard someone ask the question, "Why is the world always out to get me?" I'm sure you have -- we all have. Most of us have likely asked that question ourselves at some point. My response to that, though, is, "What actions and choices are you making to bring about good in your life?" When we externalize responsibility and play the blame game, we create a victim mentality that dis-empowers us entirely. Conversely, when we own responsibility for all that we are and all that we do, we become empowered through choice.
Many of our responses to stimuli are conditioned. Habits make up close to 40% of our daily actions, and given that they're conducted almost entirely subconsciously, they appear to not carry the notion of choice with them. Wrong! By allowing a habit to dis-empower and defeat us, we are choosing to let that state define us. When we claim ownership and responsibility for ourselves, we can go through the process of assessing our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, responses, and habits, and choose ones that better represent the person we are. So, true to Hal Elrod's quote from earlier, when we claim responsibility and ownership for everything in our life, we empower ourselves to change anything about it.
This does not mean, by any stretch, that others are not responsible for their own actions, reactions, and responses. Everyone is individually responsible for themselves, and how they act towards others. Rather, it's about stopping the practice of pointing a finger at someone else's perceived fault -- remembering that when you do so, three more fingers point back at yourself. Claiming responsibility for yourself is all about empowerment, choice, and opportunity. It may be difficult to get into the habit of it at the start, but I can tell you from personal experience that I live a far more positive and uplifted life by no longer blaming others for how I feel, act, and respond.
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