Personal Responsibility: When You're the Stone in Your Own Shoe
Without personal responsibility, there’s no progress, no achievement, and no victories. In turn, its psychological dimension has a great impact on the social field. If all of us took a little more responsibility for our actions and behaviors, perhaps we’d shape another kind of reality, a more advanced and respectful one.
In one of his lectures, Viktor Frankl said that the people of the United States should’ve given another name to the iconic Statue of Liberty. According to this famous psychiatrist, it should’ve been named the Statue of Responsibility.
This suggestion was based on an idea that can be applied to any circumstance: freedom is a faculty inherent to human beings that can only be exercised through responsibility.
Being responsible means taking care of yourself and understanding that every act or action has a consequence. Likewise, as psychotherapist Albert Ellis pointed out, many people find it easier to avoid or evade certain responsibilities than to deal with them.
As an example, something that psychologists see in therapy sessions is people’s inability to take full responsibility for what’s happened to them. This is a defense mechanism that makes it easier for them to blame their partner, relative, work colleagues, or politicians for their unhappiness. Thus, people project their discomfort onto others without knowing that the key to change lies inside them.
Personal responsibility, the stone you must remove from your shoe
Sometimes, you walk with a limp. Your foot hurts, your shoe bothers you, and you feel there’s something inside it that hurts you every time you take a step. Yet, you don’t stop to find out what’s wrong. Instead of sitting down and removing that pesky stone, you blame the path you’re walking on or the “bad quality” shoes you’re wearing.
But remember that life is unfair sometimes, especially to those who don’t take control of their own lives and try to solve their own problems.
You’re responsible for your own well-being
Confucius said that what lies inside attacks you more than external things. In other words, yes, it’s true that what surrounds you determines your chance for happiness. In fact, it’s also true that social and economic factors or a traumatic childhood may condition you. However, you’re the main enemy of your own well-being. Don’t blame your past!
Therefore, personal responsibility consists of knowing how to engage with yourself in order to create beneficial changes. How can you do this? By making courageous decisions, taking action, knowing what you need, and working on it. Above all, you need to stop blaming others and accept a leading role in the reality you want to create.
Also, it’s important to remember that no one comes into the world with perfect mental health and an adversity-proof character. You have to learn how to be okay, which is something that psychological therapy can help you with. It tries to offer you strategies to create changes that will bring you closer to a balanced life and improved well-being.
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Other people do things, but you decide how to feel
Your “stone in the shoe” can come in many forms. Sometimes, they’re the things that take away your peace, put you in a bad mood, and even make you angry. At other times, you carry the pain of an emotional break-up and disappointments.
This situation may sound familiar to you. In these cases, personal responsibility also involves taking control of your own emotions.
You simply can’t drag that suffering around with you all the time, as if it were that annoying and painful stone in your shoe. You have to set to and remove the stone! This means, first of all, accepting and understanding the emotional impact. After that, you have to regulate it, take measures, and, ultimately, make new decisions.
As a study conducted by the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London (UCL) explains, working on your emotional responsibility will bring you closer to happiness.
Personal responsibility for accepting failure and moving forward
As you live your life, you won’t only find stones along the way. You’ll also see dead ends and dangerous cliffs. Yes, it’s true that no one prepares you for unexpected situations. In fact, when they occur, you have two options.
The first and easiest option is to retreat, surrender, and go back the way you came. However, this isn’t the right thing to do. Personal responsibility also means that you have to understand that unforeseen events are part of life. People make mistakes and adversity can manifest in different forms.
So what’s the second option? Being responsible, courageous, and committed. Yes, you’ll initially take a step back, but only to gain momentum.
To conclude, you need to understand that you can’t keep blaming others for your own discomfort. You deserve to be happy again! However, you need to make decisions and, above all, take responsibility for your own life.
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- McKay, Gary (2002) How You Feel Is Up To You: The Power of Emotional Choice (Mental Health). Impact