Be responsible, a two-word statement with varying degrees of interpretation. What does it mean to be responsible and why is it important? Without accepting responsibility, personal or societal, we slowly relinquish control of our lives.
What is responsibility?
Simply stated responsibility is the ability to respond to a given person, situation, or issue. By engaging and responding to outside stimuli we are able to be active participants in creating our own destiny. Accepting responsibility empowers us to be prepared and create a plan without feeling controlled or panicked. It teaches us to adapt to hurdles as they arise and let go of things outside of our control.
We are all aware that things happen to us or around us that are outside of our control. Circumstances definitely influence us, but ultimately our actions and reactions are our choices. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but it is important to understand that you are on a certain path because you chose it or allowed others to influence your choices. Acknowledging both of these options is what it means to be responsible.
Is there a difference between responsibility and personal responsibility?
We just discussed some aspects of what it means to be responsible, but accepting personal responsibility is more in-depth. MindValley describes it this way: “personal responsibility means being responsible and ultimately answerable for your actions. Being personally responsible isn’t always easy. It requires courage, acceptance, and a realistic view of your life circumstances.”
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”Albert Einstein
Why is responsibility important?
- Teaches us how to be more flexible with ourselves and other people.
- Creates within us a sense of determination and ambition.
- Fosters meaningful relationships with others built on trust.
- Encourages us to accept the outcome of our choices, learning a deeper sense of accountability.
- Allows us the opportunity to review our choices and the outcomes giving us the ability to design appropriate responses in future situations.
Bypassing responsibility may yield short-term relief, but will always lead to long-term pain and suffering.
Be part of the solution
A common response from people who have not fully embraced responsibility is, “this isn’t my fault” or “I didn’t create this problem, so-and-so did.” I understand this response and more often than not this response is 100% true! If someone or something else is the culprit, feelings of irritation, animosity, or even anger toward them are valid. Experiencing and acknowledging these feelings is part of being human. It is possible to have legitimate feelings without engaging in reactive behavior. Learning to regulate our reactions, regardless of the situation, is part of maturing in responsibility.
Please understand that you do not have to be the originator of the problem in order to be part of the solution. If you have experienced trauma that leads to issues with your body, mind, or emotions please be kind to yourself and realize that you most certainly were not the creator of the problem. Working through trauma with a trusted professional helps us regain control of ourselves and allows us to be part of the solution. Those of us with hereditary illnesses pose a situation where we were not part of the problem but can take responsibility by being part of the solution.
Responsibility is not a characteristic that is with us at birth. It requires understanding and repeated practice in order for it to develop within us. As you continually allow yourself to accept accountability the easier it will be to be responsible.