Responsibility is very closely connected with ruthless self-honesty. The first step into becoming a responsible human being is admittance that you are guilty.
You always were and you always will be.
No one else can respond for how your life has ever been, is and will turn around. That’s the truth that will set you free.
Duty is what one expects from others. — Oscar Wilde
That’s why so small number of people are responsible. This truth is just too much to bear. There is no sense in sugarcoating this: responsibility hurts like nothing else in the world. It hurts you at your very core, where the pain is most intensive.
It hurts your ego.
When you admit that you are the sucker who is responsible for the ruin your life has become, you have a very little leeway to feel good about yourself. But feeling good about yourself is the basic human drug. You are addicted to this feeling more than you are addicted to TV, alcohol or computer games.
The Blame Game
You see, everybody plays the blame game all the time. I got an IT certificate several months ago. The subject matter was about managing IT maintenance. One of the test question for the exam was “What is the best prescribed course of action when an incident occurs?”
The answer which caused attendees laughter was “Find who was guilty and write an appropriate report.” We all knew that it wasn’t the best course of action, but everyone admitted that that was the prevailing politics in their companies. It comes directly from the primal human culture.
The correct answer was “Solve the incident or find work around.” Only once the incident is solved we can seek the root cause of it and figure out the way to deal with it.
Exporting the Blame
It’s true in your life too. Instead of playing the blame game, the best course of action is claiming the responsibility and looking for solutions.
But we so love the blame game, it’s our second nature. Looking for the guilty person, naming names and exporting the blame waters down the real issue of solution.
If someone else is responsible for your failures, you can focus on fixing the other person, instead of working on yourself. What is more you can do that and feel good about yourself. You can immerse yourself in self-pity, because you are the victim of an unfair setup.
In short, you can be stuck in the unfortunate situation and simultaneously be idle and complacent.
Responsibility Is Tough
Only by confessing that you are responsible for your own life to the fullest you can start working on solutions. It’s hard. It can be downright depressive. The messier your life is, the harder is to accept the blame. You are not perfect. There are so many issues to deal with and they are all your fault.
In 2012 I realized my life was a mess. I was overweight. My career was going nowhere. In fact I wasted all 8 years of it trying just to get by and not giving an ounce more out of me.
My spiritual life was unsatisfying. I had been attending church community for more than 15 years and I barely could discipline myself to pray two times a day.
My financial situation was not optimistic. I was able to gather just 2-3 of my salaries on a saving account.
This list was just a top of an iceberg. I was smart enough to realize that it was me who put me in that mess. I could deny this reality, but it wouldn’t have took me anywhere closer to turning my life around. If I kept lying to myself and indulge in self-pity nothing would have been changed.
Accepting Responsibility Is Empowering
I accepted that it was only me who could take me out of that unfortunate situation. Only by admitting my weakness I was able to wield my power.
The truth about yourself is dirty and ugly. But it also may be the source of a just pride. If you accept that you are responsible for your life you own the whole packet.
Being in my miserable state in the middle of 2012 I had also reasons to feel proud.
In 2001 I had got married. I had been a student after the 1st year at a university and had no skills and very little useful education. I owned nothing.
Twelve years later I was a specialist earning 2.5 average salary in my country. I earned almost as much as my peers in Western countries (taking the cost of living into account). I raised three kids and none of them was a reason to be ashamed.
In the next three years I passed a few professional exams and made 3 certificates. I became a writer who put over 60,000 copies of his books in the hands of readers. My family owns a house and two cars. This all too is “my fault.” These are the fruits of claiming responsibility.
Pros and Cons of Living Responsibly
I must warn you however, that pride is a dangerous avenue. You may believe that you are better than you really are. That you are above the rest of humanity. We all know gurus who are less than humble, don’t we? (OK, they are jerks.)
Still, this avenue is less dangerous than the blame game. Looking for external sources of your misery disempowers you. You feel that your idleness is justified, all in all, you have no chances anyway, because it’s “their” fault and you are a helpless victim of the “powers that be.”