Think back for a moment: Do you remember when you were little and your mom called you in that tone? You know the tone I'm talking about. The tone that meant you were in trouble for something. Again. ;)
I heard that tone a lot when I was growing up and whenever I heard it, my first response was, "I didn't do it!" It didn't matter what it was, I didn't do it. This was always my first line of defense. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
Either way, not taking responsibility seemed to make a lot of sense in my little girl brain. Then, as I grew up, I realized I was supposed to be taking responsibility for things in my life. Yep. I was a grownup. But I didn't like it.
So I rebelled. I played the blame game as much as I could for many years. I thought that by deflecting and shifting the blame, I would feel more powerful. I thought I wouldn't be shamed or feel guilty anymore.
Then one day I finally realized how accepting responsibility gave me power instead of taking it away from me. When I understood that, things in my life started falling into place quite nicely.
Personal responsibility is how you choose to respond to circumstances and the people around you. It means understanding that you have a choice on how to react because you're accountable for any action that's within your control. This includes the words you say, the way you behave and how you manage your emotions.
The basis of personal responsibility is understanding and accepting that you have a choice. Even when things feel out of control, you still get to choose how you manage your emotions, your behavior and your words. And being able to choose puts you in control, no matter what.
Personal responsibility also gives you the ability to create your life circumstances. That's because you are a creative being. Even if you think you're not creative, I'm here to tell you that you are because that's the way God made you. That's why we all have the ability to create our own realities. Think about this:
If you have the ability to create a situation, you have the ability to change a situation.
For example, if you only eat fast food, don't exercise, and spend your spare time watching TV or playing video games, more than likely you're setting yourself up for some serious health issues down the road.
But if you eat clean, work out regularly, and exercise your brain by reading books and doing crossword puzzles, then you're probably setting yourself up for good health in the future.
Both of these examples are based on the choices you're making. It shows that you have the power to create both situations. You're in control of all of it.
When you understand that you created the situation, you also understand that you can change the situation. Even if you're on the couch potato track of life, you can decide right now to change your ways and change your life at this very moment. You can make a 180-degree turn immediately because you have the control.
And that's the empowering part of personal responsibility. This was such a huge "aha "moment for me when I realized, "Well, if I created it, I can change it." I stopped blaming external sources. I quit playing the victim. I stopped being so defensive and snarky.
Once you realize that you're in control of your own response, there's no reason to get into blame, shame or guilt anymore. You have the upper hand with one decision. That means you can choose to start over and create what you really and truly want at this point in your life.
Personal responsibility gives you control and lets you create your circumstances. And if you created them, you can change them. That's a very empowering idea.
Personal responsibility is not worrying about what "they" think of you. What other people think of you is on them, not on you. Most of the time, what "they" think doesn't have anything to do with you.
That's a hard idea to grasp onto because sometimes, the people who are closest to you can put you in a tough position when they offer their opinions. But are you going to let other people’s opinions stop you from doing what you know is right for you?
In 1999, I decided to start my own business. I was done with being an employee. I was so tired of working for people who didn't seem to have the first clue about how to run a business or how to manage their staff. So I went out on my own.
I bought my first desktop computer and a fax machine. I had no idea what was going to happen. I had no clue about what was supposed to happen. I didn't even know what shouldn't be happening. I was just so excited to be out on my own.
My family and friends brought up their concerns and I listened politely, but I knew this was the right move for me. To be fair, I understood what they were saying. Who would leave a comfortable job with good pay, decent benefits, and plenty of vacation days? What kind of crazy person would step out on their own with no security, no net, no place to land, and absolutely nothing to fall back on if this didn't work out?
Where I saw relief from the status quo, they only saw risk. But for me, staying in the situation would be the riskier choice. It felt like it was a much bigger risk to continue being frustrated, unhappy and stressed out.
Plus, I knew that if it didn't work out, I could always go back and get a regular job. I made a decision to change my life at that moment, but I had no idea it would be one of the most successful decisions I've ever made. I've been in business for over 20 years now.
Think about this: If I had been reasonable, if I had done the practical thing, if I had listened to the opinions and the fears of other people, I would've never discovered that I was exceptionally good at running a business. I would've never known that I was good at marketing and networking and all that "business-y" stuff. When I started, I had no idea.
But once I realized I was doing well, it made me strong. It made me confident because I knew I was going to be okay, no matter what.
Risks don't scare me that much anymore. Granted, I'm not jumping out in front of moving cars but sometimes, taking a calculated risk is exactly what you need to get out of your slump and get you moving towards something that truly makes your heart sing.
You cannot let other people decide what you’re going to do in your life. That's because it's your life and you get to choose. You decide what works for you, and you take action on it.
If you ask someone, "What would you do if you were in my shoes?", their answer isn't going to be completely accurate because they're answering from what they would do. They're answering from their experience and perspective.
I'm all for listening to mentors and people you trust, but remember that it's still your life and you're the one who gets to make the choice.
Noticing your own behavior is your best first step. Pay attention to where you take responsibility and don't take responsibility in the areas you can control. Remember, you can only control your own stuff: your own emotions, your own words and your own behavior.
When you start taking personal responsibility for things, you can start taking charge of your life immediately. You can infuse the powerless parts of your life with a new level of strength and authority, and you'll look at things in a whole new way.
You'll also start seeing new possibilities for yourself. Best of all, you can design the life you want and step into it with great confidence because you chose what you created.