Accepting responsibility is the foundation of high self-esteem, self-respect, and personal pride. Accepting personal responsibility lies at the core of the personality of every outstanding man or woman. – Brian Tracy
Being fully responsible for your life will greatly determine how successful you will be in life. Each time you refuse to take responsibility for your life you give your power away to circumstances or other people and as a result you disempower yourself. Accepting to take responsibility in all areas of your life will turn you into someone that creates his life rather than someone who is a victim of his environment. Acknowledging that you have a part of responsibility in everything in your life and that there is always ways for improvement will give you the right mindset to grow. Ultimately, you are always responsible for your attitude, your happiness, your emotions and your actions. You are always the one who choose the way you feel, behave, act or react to your environment.
Accepting the reality
Accept the truth but don’t beat yourself up. Beating yourself up or victimizing yourself is refusing to objectively see the truth. It is a way to escape your responsibility by distorting the reality and creating reasons not to take action. Without accepting the reality as it is, no change is possible. You are responsible for accepting the reality.
You are responsible for your attitude
It is hard to convince people sometimes that the world experience is the reflection of their attitude. They take the attitude that if people would only be nice to them they’d be nice in return. They are like the person sitting in the front of a cold stove, waiting for the heat. Until they put in the fuel, there not gonna be any heat. It is up to them to act first. It has to start somewhere. Let it begin with us. – Earl Nightingale, Lead The Field
Working on your attitude is one of the most important things you can do for your personal growth. Most people when they leave their house in the morning have a neutral attitude. They don’t choose their attitude. By not being aware of your attitude you give power to your environment. For instance, if you happen to be surrounded by cheerful people you will react to that cheerfulness and everything will be great. However, if you are surrounded by pessimistic people, you will easily be influenced by their negative attitude. By refusing to deliberately choose your attitude you disempower yourself, you become a comedian that simply react to your environment. You are being influenced rather than influencing. You might say to yourself “That person is not smiling at me. he’s not friendly. Why should I be friendly with him?” The problem with that argument is that that person might be thinking the exact same thing about you. Don’t give your power away, choose your attitude and be the scriptwriter of your life not a comedian reacting to life.
- Decide to leave home every morning with a great attitude
- Influence people by your attitude and don’t let people influenced you by their poor attitude. If people are angry, stressed or in a bad mood it is their problem not yours. Don’t change your attitude. React to people who are rude the same way you would react to people who are nice (easier to say than to do)
You are responsible for your emotions
An emotion has a very short life span. It is like a momentary ripple or wave on the surface of your Being. – Eckhart Tolle, The Power Of Now, A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment
Happiness, sadness, stress, hopelessness and any other possible kind of emotions you feel don’t actually exist out there. They are only created by your mind. You are responsible for your emotions.It’s up to you do to do something about your emotions. If you constantly think about bad events that happened to you in the past, you are responsible. If you constantly worry about the future, you are responsible. If you react too emotionally to a present situation you are responsible. That’s why many spiritual teachers stress the importance of:
- living in the now (the only reality that exists)
- acceptance (stop resisting and fully accepting the reality)
Being responsible for your emotions doesn’t mean that you are always feel with joy and can completely get rid of your negative emotions, though it is a noble ideal you should try to pursue. By accepting to be responsible for your emotions you can start improving your situation. If you realize that stress is not because of a specific situation but is the result of the way you yourself react to that situation you can start taking full responsibility for your stress and look for ways to reduce it (see Stop Worrying, Start Living – 7 Practical Tips to Overcome Worries). If a situation or a job is really too stressful for your to deal with, you can always choose to leave.
Similarly, Getting angry doesn’t have to be an automatic response to someone who insults you, disrespects you or makes fun of you. You always have a choice. Be aware that each time you react and get angry, or try to take revenge you’re choosing to give your power away to the person who is offending you. You actually make that person more important that he or she is. You might feel a strong need to react. You might insult that person in return, be sarcastic, take revenge, badmouth him in his back, or worse, fight with him. However, you have absolutely nothing to gain by doing that. You are just wasting your time and your energy. Actually, those behaviors reveal how insecure you are inside, no matter how confident you might pretend to be on the outside. A person with high self-esteem would feel less the need to be respected or approved of. What about you? How insecure are you?
By the way, the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus said “What is insulting is not the person who abuses you or hits you, but the judgment about them that they are insulting. Another person will not do you harm unless you wish it”.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that you should never react. It is also important to speak up in a polite and non-aggressive way when needed. It is especially true if the person who is disrespecting you is someone you meet in a regular basis at work for instance. You really don’t want to feel any kind of resentment towards that person. So if you have something to say, say it, but don’t spend any time being angry about what someone did to you when that person is not even here. While you are worrying he/she is probably enjoying life and might not even know that you are angry at them. Say what you have to say. Write a email or ask someone else to convey your feeling to that person if you need to.
We know when we are offended. We just feel it. We also know when we will feel some resentment if we don’t speak up in a given situation. For that reason, if right now you are someone who feels offended rather easily, it is necessary that you speak up. However, the more you will work on yourself, learn to reframe situations, understand that you are too important to react to most of the situations, and grow self-esteem, the less you will feel offended. Trust your feeling. And speak up to tell people how you feel when necessary. Don’t insult, make sarcastic comments or try to take revenge!
What I personally do to deal with my anger
- I acknowledge that I have a feeling of anger and focus on how anger feels in my body. Focusing on my emotions allows me to dissociate from them. Then I analyze why I am feeling that emotion.
- I reframe the situation: This person has probably some problems in his life (he lost his job, he just broke up with his girlfriend, someone died in his family. Or he is just an asshole). I transform my anger into pity and see them as weak for lacking self-control. Often, when people get angry at you, it is nothing personal. You just happen to be there at the wrong timing when they need to let off some steam.
- I see myself as too important to spend any time or energy reacting to people who don’t deserve it. My peace of mind is too important
- If I feel somewhat offended I try to understand why? If someone criticizes you and you feel offended, generally it means that there is at least an ounce of truth in their message. Try to find it but be aware that it is not necessary an “objective truth”. It could be something that your subconscious mind perceives as a truth. For instance, I tend to belief that not matter how hard I work, it is never enough. So if someone I know were to come to me and criticize me saying that I’m lazy, I would likely feel offended. Not because they are wrong because I am objectively working hard, but because my subconscious mind believes it to be true.
You are responsible for your personal happiness
Taking responsibility for my happiness is empowering. It places my life back in my own hands. Ahead of taking this responsibility, I may imagine it will be a burden. What I discover is that it sets me free. – Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field
I often heard people saying “I will be happy when…” or “If only I had… I would be happy”. No you probably won’t. Even winning the lottery is unlikely to make you happy. The only way you can really be happier is by working on yourself. No external things will significantly increase your happiness. Don’t let your happiness depends on others. “One of the characteristics of immaturity is the belief that it is someone else’s job to make me happy” (Nathaniel Branden). Having more happiness in your life requires you to work on your mindset, on your attitude, to learn to see good in people and situations or to practice gratitude in order to feel more grateful for everything you have. It is a long and tedious process. Some people manage to be happy in situations you won’t believe while people who have seemingly all the reasons in the world to be happy are chronically unhappy. (Watch those two incredibly inspirational videos: Nick Vujicic, No Arm No Legs No Worries and Alice Herz Sommer, Holocaust Survivor, Cancer Survivor) Though it is true that our happiness is determined partially by our genetics (50% according to Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book “The How Of Happiness”), we still have a lot of room to increase our level of happiness.
You are responsible for your career
When you accept complete responsibility for your life, you begin to view yourself as self-employed, no matter who signs your paycheck. You see yourself as the president of your own personal service corporation. You see yourself as an entrepreneur heading a company with one employee: you. – Brian Tracy
You are responsible for creating more value to your company and for the society as a whole. You are responsible for making yourself more valuable by reading materials in your field of expertise, constantly increasing your productivity, learning new skills, participating to training session or working on your communication skills to name a few. Your company might be very supportive but ultimately it is always your responsibility to grow.
You are responsible for your relationships
No succes in public life can compensate for failure in the home. – Benjamin Disraeli
There are two people in a relationship so when something goes wrong you always have a part of responsibility. Stop avoiding responsibility. Often, when you listen to a couple who has an argument, it always seems to be the fault of the other for some reason!
Example of things you are responsible for in a relationship
- understanding women/men psychology. You should study women/men psychology. Many arguments can be avoiding by understanding some fundamental differences between man and women.
- nurturing the relationship. It is always shocking for me to see how in Japan many couple complain about their marriage while they are making no effort to nurture the relationship. Relationship is like everything else it requires effort!
- communicating clearly your needs and how you feel to your partner. You are responsible for letting know your partner what do you want and how do you feel. By failing to do that on a constant basis, you are likely to build resentment towards your partner over time. Resentment accumulated over a long period of time is a relationship killer. Communicating openly with your partner about things that bother you in the relationship, even small things, is crucial. It is something I’m really struggling with and I know I have to seriously work on. I expect women to know how I feel and what I want without clearly communicating my needs or feelings. I focus too much on my partner’s needs and not enough on myself and fail to communicate clearly my needs. Then, I secretly resent her for not responding to my needs.
- being clear on your values and expectations. It is your responsibility to know your values and stand for those values. Don’t try to change your partner’s values, don’t try to change your values to adopt your partner’s values. We are attracted to people who are similar to us. It also goes for values. If you practice meditation two hours everyday and have not interest in materialistic things you probably don’t want to marry a very materialistic woman. A while ago, I was talking to a Japanese men who was very sad about the way is marriage was going. He told me he didn’t communicate enough with his wife and he realized after a while that they didn’t have the same values, they didn’t want the same thing in life. Don’t let that happen to you. Be clear on your values and expectations and share them with your partner.
What you can do
One thing you can do is to determine the values you are seeking to live by in your relationship and write down a mission statement together with your partner. It will help you clarify what you expect out of your relationship. Each time you have a argument, you can go back to that statement and see whether this argument is really worth having and refocus on what matter to both of you.
I could keep writing and writing about what you are responsible for in your life but let me stop here. If you were to remember just one thing from this article remember this: the more you take responsibility for your life, the more you have power to change it.
What about you? What will you take responsibility for from today? Leave me a comment below.
See also: Why Goal Settting Is Important?
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