Taking Charge of Your Life

Accepting Personal Responsibility and Increasing Your Sense of Control.

Accepting personal responsibility means acknowledging that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life and that you cannot blame others or make excuses for the choices that you have made.

There are many negative consequences to not accepting responsibility of your actions and behaviors. It can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and even depression over how unfairly you feel that others have treated you. You can feel helpless in situations, as though things are happening to you versus you making choices that culminated in the resulting situation. Not accepting personal responsibility can also lead to the dissolution of personal relationships due to constantly blaming others or making excuses for your behavior.

Are you someone who does not accept personal responsibility? Do the following statements sound familiar?

That is just the way I am. It’s not my fault.

There is no use in trying to control my life-I have no control over my life.

I work hard, but will never get ahead.

There is nothing that I can do to change who I am.

Those of you who are skeptics may say: “But it’s true. I am the way I am. I cannot control how my parents raised me or whether or not I get the job that I interviewed for two days ago, or if I will get married to the ideal person.” Here is the surprise caveat: Some of that is true-to an extent. No, you cannot change the way that your parents raised you, nor any other event that occurred in the past. But what you can do is change the way that you view such situations so that you are not always labeling yourself as a helpless victim of life. And no, you cannot control whether or not you will get hired for a job that you applied for. However, you can take personal responsibility by proof reading your resume and application, adequately preparing for the interview process, dressing in professional attire, etc. The plain fact is that not everything is in your control, but you can take control of the things that are within your power.

Can you think of ways in which you can incorporate the act of taking personal responsibility in you life? Some practical examples include: taking measures to ensure your emotional and physical health such as exercising regularly and making healthy food choices , calling up a friend for dinner in order to maintain healthy relationships, and keeping a daily/monthly planner to remember assignments, appointments, etc. in order to develop your time management skills. Other ways to accept personal responsibility include admitting when you are at fault versus blaming others or making excuses-your vulnerability and honesty will be more beneficial to your overall well-being than would emotionally harming others or yourself by blame-shifting.

There are many rewards to accepting personal responsibility. For starters, making deliberate, informed choices can lead to a greater sense of control over your life. As a result, you may also experience decreased feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, personal relationships may improve due to the honesty that accepting personal responsibility conveys.

Remember, in order to accept personal responsibility, you must accept that you are the person in charge of the direction that your life takes. Be willing to ask for and seek help for yourself. Be willing to take steps towards achieving your goals. You have a say in this! It is, after all, your life.

Adapted from Accepting Personal Responsibility topic on Tools for coping website (www.coping.org)