Taking responsibility for your life is so important to the healing process. It does not mean that you are supposed to feel guilty or that you are to blame. It simply means you had a role to play in the situation and you should be big enough to stand up and state what part you took. Doing so takes a lot of weight off your shoulders. You will feel better and braver.
Yet so many people refuse to do so and this is the reason for so much hostility and anger. Even just saying the two words “I am sorry,” is the hardest thing for some to do. We cannot worry about another’s actions though. If we focus on what someone else did or did not do, than we continue the cycle of a never-ending bout with madness. We can only worry about our own actions.
I was reading an article about a man who finally decided to take responsibility for why his marriage failed, just yesterday, which is what gave me the idea for writing this post. His ability to move forward in relationships began when he made this bold gesture. He stopped focusing on what his ex-wife did not give him and began to think about what he had not brought in himself. Where he had erred in judgement. As he began to do this, he was able to see how his role played in the downfall and that there are two sides to everything.
When I counsel survivors of domestic violence, I have them dig deep inside to see how they contributed to bringing the batterer into their life. We talk in retrospect of the feelings and insights that were there from the beginning that they ignored. Thus they are not at fault for the violence but they are responsible for making the choices that led them down this path. If they are unable to look at this, they will continue to meet more batterers along the way, if not in love, than in work or even with acquaintances.
When I talk to parents who are no longer in a relationship, I counsel them on taking responsibility for their child and for their non-relationship with the custodial parent. Children are not at fault for a liaison that turns into a family. It is important to explain to the other parent that you wish to remain in the child’s life, pay support, and do your part to help out in any way you can (e.g., take child when custodial parent needs time off). Of course if your relationship ended with the parent in a bad way (cheating, drugs/alcohol, or some other unethical situation), you have to take responsibility for this before you can expect that the other party will listen.
If at work you are the reason that a project failed, taking a stand might get you fired though it is bound to get you respect as well. Blaming your subordinates when you were directly involved gets you nowhere. You might keep your job but the work atmosphere has been compromised forever. This does not always result in termination either. People are expected to make mistakes on the job, this is the reality of life. Unless of course, what you did was illegal or unethical.
When you look back on your life and get caught up in your losses, think very deeply about how your life came to where it is today. It is hard to face up to responsibility but it will make you stronger, wiser and happier in the long run.