Allow yourself the pleasure of
mastering this all-important value...
It is the way we handle responsibility
that determines how well we do in life!
To be responsible means that the buck
stops with us.
We take responsibility for our actions
or our obligations/duties.
Many of us know our rights and we are
quick to defend these rights, but few are as enthusiastic about responsibilities.
Getting the balance is surely beneficial
to us and our community. (see why learn
Accepting Personal Responsibility
accepting personal responsibility?
How can failing to accept personal responsibility
result in negative consequences?
What do people believe who have not accepted personal
What terms are used to describe those who have not
accepted personal responsibility?
What behavior traits need to be developed in order
to accept personal responsibility?
What are the steps in accepting personal responsibility?
What is accepting personal
Accepting personal responsibility includes:
- Acknowledging that you are solely responsible for
the choices in your life.
- Accepting that you are responsible for what you choose
to feel or think.
- Accepting that you choose the direction for your
- Accepting that you cannot blame others for the choices
you have made.
- Tearing down the mask of defense or rationale for
why others are responsible for who you are, what has happened to you,
and what you are bound to become.
- The rational belief that you are responsible for
determining who your are, and how your choices affect your life.
- Pointing the finger of responsibility back to yourself
and away from others when you are discussing the consequences of your
- Realizing that you determine your feelings about
any events or actions addressed to you, no matter how negative they
- Recognizing that you are your best cheerleader; it
is not reasonable or healthy for you to depend on others to make you
feel good about yourself.
- Recognizing that as you enter adulthood and maturity,
you determine how your self-esteem will develop.
- Not feeling sorry for the ``bum deal'' you have been
handed but taking hold of your life and giving it direction and reason.
- Letting go of your sense of over responsibility for
- Protecting and nurturing your health and emotional
- Taking preventive health oriented steps of structuring
your life with time management, stress management, confronting fears,
and burnout prevention.
- Taking an honest inventory of your strengths, abilities,
talents, virtues, and positive points.
- Developing positive, self-affirming, self-talk scripts
to enhance your personal development and growth.
- Letting go of blame and anger toward those in your
past who did the best they could, given the limitations of their knowledge,
background, and awareness.
- Working out anger, hostility, pessimism, and depression
over past hurts, pains, abuse, mistreatment, and misdirection.
How can failing
to accept personal responsibility result in negative consequences?
When you have not accepted personal responsibility, you
can run the risk of becoming:
- Overly dependent on others for recognition, approval,
affirmation, and acceptance.
- Chronically hostile, angry, or depressed over how
unfairly you have been or are being treated.
- Fearful about ever taking a risk or making a decision.
- Overwhelmed by disabling fears.
- Unsuccessful at the enterprises you take on in life.
- Unsuccessful in personal relationships.
- Emotionally or physically unhealthy.
- Addicted to unhealthy substances, such as the abuse
of alcohol, drugs, food, or unhealthy behavior such as excessive gambling,
shopping, sex, smoking, work, etc.
- Over responsible and guilt ridden in your need to
rescue and enable others in your life.
- Unable to develop trust or to feel secure with others.
- Resistant to vulnerability.
What do people believe
who have not accepted personal responsibility?
- It's not my fault I am the way I am.
- I never asked to be born.
- Now that you have me, what are you going to do with
- I want you to fix me.
- Life is unfair! There is no sense in trying to take
control of my life.
- Why go on; I see no use in it.
- You can't help me, nobody can help me. I'm useless
and a failure.
- God has asked too much of me this time. There is
no way I'll ever be able to handle this.
- When do the troubles and problems cease? I'm tired
of all this.
- Stop the world; I want to get off.
- Life is so depressing. If only I had better luck
and had been born to a healthier family, or attended a better school,
or gotten a better job, etc.
- How can you say I am responsible for what happens
to me in the future? There is fate, luck, politics, greed, envy, wicked
and jealous people, and other negative influences that have a greater
bearing on my future than I have.
- How can I ever be happy, seeing how bad my life has
- My parents made me what I am today!
- The problems in my family have influenced who I am
and what I will be; there is nothing I can do to change that.
- Racism, bigotry, prejudice, sexism, ageism, and closed
mindedness all stand in the way of my becoming what I really want
- No matter how hard I work, I will never get ahead.
- You have to accept the luck of the draw.
- I am who I am; there is no changing me.
- No one is going to call me crazy, depressed, or troubled
and then try to change me.
What terms are used to describe
those who have not accepted personal responsibility?
martyrs. self-pitying, depressed, losers, quitters, chronically angry,
dependent personalities, complainers, addictive personalities, blamers,
stubborn, persons in denial, troubled people, stuck, fearful, pessimists,
despondent, mentally unstable, obstinate, hostile, aggressive, irresponsible,
weak, guilt ridden, resistant to help, passive, irrational, insecure,
neurotic, obsessed, lost
What behavior traits
need to be developed in order to accept personal responsibility?
In order to accept personal responsibility you need to develop the ability
Seek out and to accept help for yourself.
Be open to new ideas or concepts about life and the
Refute irrational beliefs and overcome fears.
Affirm yourself positively.
Recognize that you are the sole determinant of the choices
Recognize that you choose your responses to the people,
actions, and events in your life.
Let go of anger, fear, blame, mistrust, and insecurity.
Take risks and to become vulnerable to change and growth
in your life.
Take off the masks of behavior characteristics behind
which you hide low self-esteem.
Reorganize your priorities and goals.
Realize that you are the party in charge of the direction
your life takes.
What are the steps in accepting
Step 1: To decide if you are having problems accepting
personal responsibility, answer the following questions in your journal:
a. How frequently do you claim that others have determined
what you are today?
b. How easy is it to accept that you are responsible
for your choices in life?
c. How easy it is to believe that you determine the
direction your life takes?
d. How easy is it to blame others for where you are
e. What masks do you hide behind to avoid accepting
f. How rational are you in dealing with the part you
played in being who you are today?
g. How easy is it to accept blame or admit mistakes?
h. How easy is it to accept that you determine your
feelings when negative events occur?
i. How easy is it to depend solely on yourself for acceptance,
affirmation, and approval?
j. How willing are you to be the sole determinant of
the health of your self-esteem?
k. How frequently do you feel sorry for yourself?
l. How easy is it to let go of guilt if you stop rescuing
those in your life?
m. How willingly do you take preventive steps to ensure
your physical and emotional health?
n. How successfully have you practiced self-affirmation
in your life?
o. How successfully have you practiced anger work out
and letting go in order to get on with your life?
Step 2: Rate yourself on a scale of
1 to 5 as to the level of personal responsibility you have accepted
in each of the following areas: (Use the following scale as you write
in your journal.)
1 = always irresponsible
2 = usually irresponsible
3 = irresponsibility balanced out with responsibility
4 = usually responsible
5 = always responsible
Rating Area in Life:
___ a. Taking the preventive and maintenance measures
to ensure physical health
___ b. Taking the preventive and maintenance measures
to ensure emotional health
___ c. Controlling weight and over-eating
___ d. Stopping smoking, excessive drinking, and drug
___ e. Controlling excessive gambling, shopping, and
___ f. Controlling workaholism
___ g. Taking the preventive, and maintenance measures
to ensure healthy relationships
___ h. Taking the necessary steps to overcome my current
problems and troubles
___ i. Taking the necessary steps to protect myself
from being victimized by my rescuing and enabling of others
___ j. Managing my time, managing the stress in my life,
overcoming my fears, and preventing burnout in my life
Score: A rating of 3 or less in any of the areas indicates
a need to accept personal responsibility.
Step 3: Identify your beliefs that
prevent acceptance of responsibility for yourself. Develop new, rational,
replacement beliefs to help you accept responsibility for yourself.
Step 4: You are now ready to develop
a plan of action. For each area of your life, identify that tools you
will use to accept personal responsibility. The following Tools for
Coping tools are available to help you determine your action plan:
The Tools for Coping Tool Box
Handling Irrational Beliefs
- Handling Guilt
- Building Trust
- Handling Insecurity
- Becoming Vulnerable
- Overcoming Fears
- On Becoming a Risk Taker
- Time Management
- Stress Reduction
- Preventing Burnout
- Overcoming Perfectionism
Write your plan of action in your journal. Date and
sign it. You are now ready to begin accepting personal responsibility.
Step 5: If you still have trouble in
accepting responsibility for yourself, return to Step 1 and begin again.
Reproduced by kind permission of James
J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance Messina, Ph.D of coping.org