The Subtle Art of Owning Personal Responsibility

Margit Cathrine Moller

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable." – Moliere

The blaming game is one of people’s favorite past times. We offer excuses. We deny responsibilities. We cite circumstances. We do everything just to avoid being responsible for any failure in our life. Personal responsibility is lost art, but is a subtle art that differentiates adults from children.

Personal responsibility is mark of a mature individual. It is our duty to ourselves to ensure good character and behavior no matter what you past was and what your present circumstances are.

In the sense, personal responsibility is being accountable for our health, wellness, success, and happiness. While children depend on the adults around them to guide them and provide for their happiness, adults are responsible for themselves.

Adults – acting out several roles as parents, spouses, managers at work, consumers, citizens, club members, global citizens – are required to make decisions. Every day is a day to make choices and decisions

A responsible adult makes decisions based on his capacity, his reality, his duties and obligations and his sense of what is right and wrong. It is easy to stand by our decisions and own them if we made them with real discernment.

The moment you make stupid or wrong decisions, you will be inclined to disown them when they fail and blame others. But that will safeguard your reputation, save you from shame or possible guilt, but it will not help you grow into a mature, empowered individual. Blaming helps you survive but it doesn’t lead you to happiness.

So, what does personal responsibility over your action mean:

1. It means that you are responsible for your own decisions. You may consult others. You may read about these matters online in someone’s blog. You may go back to what you have learned in school. Others might influence you. Others will try to dictate your will. But in the end, if it your decision.

2. It also means that you are responsible for your own actions. The law guides us. Our religion may influence us. Our past may affect the way we act. But, bottomline is, all our actions are our responsibility. What we eat, how often we eat, what we drink, who we go out with, what we do when we are driving, what we do at work, how we take care of our family. Those are our personal responsibilities.

3. And lastly, it means we are responsible for the consequences of our actions and decisions. Yes, there are external circumstances that affect the outcomes of our actions. But still, at the end of day, we own and claim accountability. And that includes not just because of what we do, but what we failed to do which is expected of us.