What type of person are you?
Do you realize that you control your happiness and success, and when it comes to an obstacle in the pursuit of your best life, you work out a way around it? Do you simply don’t give up without trying?
Or maybe you are someone who, thus far, has refused to take responsibility for your life?
When things get tough, you’re more likely to give up instead of taking the path less travelled. You know that your ideal life is out there, but you’ve chosen to live in Mediocre-ville and somehow found a way to enjoy it. Taking responsibility seems like too much hassle.
The awkward truth is that it’s so much easier to be a victim, blame others and have a sense of entitlement, rather than to take responsibility for the circumstances in our lives.
If the second person is you (and it used to be me), it’s time for you to leave the losing team that are playing the blame game and take responsibility for your life. Here’s exactly how to do it.
Start taking responsibility
So you’ve decided to leave the losing team behind and venture out on your own. You want to take responsibility for your life and for your future.
You’re officially getting off the blame train. That’s great – you’ve officially stepped off at the best station you can.
But this station is quite deserted. You’re not sure whether you need to catch another train or wait for a bus. There’s a reason that hardly anyone is here. They’re still firmly on the blame train and have no intention of disembarking at this, or any other, station.
However, you’ve realised something and it’s going to change your life. You’ve realised that only you can take responsibility and succeed. Only you can take the necessary action to live your best life.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of conscious effort and some brutal
honesty, but I hope you like a challenge. You know that nothing worth having, including a meaningful life, comes easily.
You need to suit up. Superman can keep his ability to fly and his rather tight-fitting attire. Wonder Woman can keep her bracelets and shields.
They’ve got nothing on you because your super power is… well, you. If you’re willing to change and decide what meaning you’re going to give to the events in your life, you’ll be taking that all important responsibility and reaping the rewards.
Step one: Attitude and reflection
It’s time to get ruthless.
You need to do what your teacher always said and ‘take a good long hard look at yourself in the mirror.’ Without using your metaphorical mirror, it’s going to be hard to make the necessary changes to your attitude and your overall responsibility.
The truth is, you might not like what you see, but that’s okay. You know that change is a journey not an event. We all have to start somewhere.
Along with your willingness to change needs to be a more proactive attitude of responsibility. You have the power to respond in the right way. You have the power to create your own future and your own success. It’s right there at the tips of your fingers. You’ve just got to flex those responsibility muscles each and every day. Only then will you have the power you need to change your life.
Reflection on past behavior can be painful or awkward. It’s a natural part of the process. Don’t shy away from it because you can learn so much from being a reflective person.
Listen to the feedback that you might have had from other people in your life, e.g. your spouse, your colleagues or your close friends. Are they suggesting that you need to change your attitude or response to something? By considering some of their suggestions, you’re taking your responsibility seriously.
Step two: Understanding your power
In his groundbreaking book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, Viktor Frankl used his experiences as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp to try to understand how man reacts when in adverse situations.
His findings and the book itself give us all a greater understanding of how we can live our lives and take greater responsibility.
Upon arrival at the camp, Viktor realised that he had the power to decide how to respond to the terrible situation he was in. He soon became conscious of the fact that his chances of survival rested on his ability to acknowledge this situation and his response moving forward.
Viktor knew that he was in complete control of his responses and decisions.
No matter what else came his way, no matter how awful the conditions or his treatment by the guards, by turning inwards and focusing on his responsibility, he was able to survive the ordeal.
Many people try to find their life’s meaning first, before they undertake new responsibilities or decisions.
Frankl believed that it is only through your actions and responses that you can find the meaning to your life. It is unique to you. There is no general meaning to life. We can create and change ours at will.
In a situation as awful as Frankl and his fellow prisoners, he was able to understand that blame had no place in the camp. Focusing on his internal state of mind, rather than the external factors that were at play, meant he could survive.
Even when working shoeless in the snow to build a train line, Viktor was able to picture his wife in his mind and focus on the love he had for her, rather than the conditions he was faced with. He took responsibility for his reaction to the pain he felt, turning it upside down and into something good.
Step 3: Finding your internal power and perspective
Man’s destiny is certainly affected by his circumstances, by those external factors. But we are ultimately able to choose our own path. Even in the worse situations known to humankind, you have the freedom and the power to choose your attitude to life. Every human has the capacity
to change his behavior and response to any situation.
That’s the power of responsibility. By doing so, you’ll be happier and in more control of your life. You will no longer shout at inanimate objects or become angered by the weather.
Just remember you have the power to:
• Be reflective and learn to improve.
• Choose how you feel and respond to different situations.
• Be happier and in greater control of your life.
• Be responsible.
It all starts and ends with you.
Action Steps for self-responsibility:
So now you’ve established that you’re ready to kick blame to the curb and take responsibility by the horns, you want to know how to do it.
Here are 3 action steps you can start on today to take responsibility for your life.
1. Sit somewhere quietly and reflect on decisions and responses you have made in the past. If you were faced with the same problem today and with this new understanding of personal power, how could you do things differently?
2. Make a list of the circumstances that you find yourself in frequently. Instead of looking at them as situations that can’t be changed, how could you find a way to look at them differently? How will you approach these situations in the future so that you feel happier? If you have some planned responses and reactions to difficult situations, you’re more likely to succeed.
3. Read ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. It will transform your understanding of finding your life’s meaning and taking responsibility for everything going forward.