The problem of accepting responsibility, or perhaps more accurately, the avoidance of responsibility, is the biggest problem I see in this world along with education. By accepting responsibility for yourself, your situation, your decisions, and your life you by result claim your life and your freedom. However, responsibility is something almost all people avoid like the plague. This is because responsibility is painful, but that pain people avoid is their life and their personal power. Buddha teaches us that life is suffering, so in order to claim right over your life, you must accept this pain and responsibility.
A common way of avoiding responsibility and thus giving up personal power is the blame game, personal victimization, and complaining. People love to point fingers at everyone else but themselves because they fear to be responsible for their own lives. Simply because it is painful. Never blame others for your situation, justify your situation with excuses, or complain. You and you alone are responsible for everything in your life, blaming others or circumstances is you giving those people and situations your power and thus control over you to a certain degree.
Justifying your situation is a very common way of giving up your personal power. You always have a choice. If you don’t believe you have a choice in a situation, it is an illusion, and the reality is that you are not willing to make the sacrifice required for another option. One of the things you will come to be aware of once you have accepted responsibility is that at every given moment you are making decisions about who you are, what you believe, what your personal value is, what your values are, and what you allow into your life. Yes, decision- making is painful, and sometimes we make mistakes, but by giving others the power of your decision or avoiding making the decision entirely means you do not value yourself enough to bear the pain of that choice. And it is true that at times your choice is between the lesser of two evils, but it is still your responsibility. To accept responsibility is to claim your power, and in turn, to avoid it is to give it away.
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN EMOTIONS/ MIND STATE
One of my favorite authors, M. Scott Peck addresses the avoidance of responsibility in his book, The Road Less Traveled. He writes that the common avoidance of responsibility is the cause of most psychological problems, such as character disorders and neuroses. He explains that the neurotic assumes too much responsibility, and the person with character disorders, too little. I recommend his book for further reading on this subject as his words do the topic much more justice than my own.
I have found that since assuming responsibility for myself and my life that I am actually much happier. You may ask how I could be happier accepting more pain into my life and confronting more problems. It is because I now view the pain and problems as tools for growth, and by doing so I no longer give them control over me.
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths because only once we truly see the truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult- once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” – M. Scott Peck
All of my relationships have improved because I no longer view others as oppressors and I no longer blame them for my personal problems. I no longer leave the people I love responsible for my validation or happiness. My ego has in less control because I choose to accept the pain of admitting I was wrong, or that I could’ve done better because the choices I make and the consequences that follow are my responsibility. I feel more in control of my life and of my mental/ emotional state as it is no longer dependent on external forces but upon my inner condition.
You must be responsible for loving yourself and for promoting your own growth. Loving yourself is very difficult to do, and that is often why many people attempt to make others responsible for loving them. Nothing good can come from this and doing so leads to feelings of neediness, jealousy, and attachment. These feelings are often followed by fear, hate, and anger, like dark storm clouds, follow heavy winds, ready to burst as soon as the weight of these emotions becomes too much to bear.
Eventually, the pain of experiencing those emotions will surpass the pain you would’ve experienced from just accepting the responsibility for your own inner state. It’s not fair to throw the responsibility for your emotions/ mind state on others, and eventually, it will only drive them away from you.
Life is full of problems. Problems are a natural part of life and are completely unavoidable. When confronted with a problem, do not hope that it will go away on its own. Believe that your problems will continue to be a problem until you accept that it is your responsibility and yours alone to solve them. Do not pray for an external force to come along and magically solve your problems. Many people do this and because they do they go through years of unnecessary suffering because they have been brainwashed into believing if they pray hard enough or hope hard enough that God will one day come down and fix their problems because they kept faith. However, this is a mistaken view of faith. Faith is accepting that it is up to you to make things happen and trusting in God to work His will through your action.
“One must respect God and Buddha, but not be dependent on them.” – Miyamoto Mushashi
You will only ever receive that which you deserve. If your problem wasn’t solved, perhaps you didn’t try as hard as you could have. Perhaps you have another problem you must solve first, so keep faith and persevere. Accept that it is ultimately up to you to give yourself a better life. It is up to you to make your dreams come into fruition.
By not accepting responsibility for your problems ,or by only assuming partial responsibility for them, you will only prolong the pain of the problem. To solve those problems and don’t half- ass them if you don’t want to spend more of your precious time and energy living in pain. For once you have accepted it, the pain of responsibility can no longer harm you because the painful part is just accepting it in the first place!
KNOWLEDGE, POWER, AND RESPONSIBILITY
Everyone has heard the expression, “Knowledge is power.” It is an important expression to know. However, what is more important to know is that while knowledge brings power; with power comes with responsibility. (Thanks for teaching us that one, Uncle Ben!) This truth is often the reason many people live in denial or why some people never live up to their true potential. The scientific evidence that humankind is destroying this planet is overwhelming. So why are there still people who deny this, people who do nothing about it? Because people naturally resist change and will resist changing the way they live because they do not want to be held accountable for their actions. They are lovers of ego. By knowing the truth, they have the power to change, but people fear change. Stop living in denial, stop living in fear, accept responsibility for the power you have to change that you have gained through knowledge!
RESPONSIBILITY IN POLITICS
Freedom is something everyone wants, right? And your life is yours and yours alone, right? Nearly anyone asked these questions would answer yes, I am free and my life is mine and mine alone. And this is true. However, their belief is not reflected in their actions. The vast majority look to authority to provide them with all their needs, and by doing so, they surrender their freedom to authority. Almost like children do to parents. People who are weak and live in fear cry to the government to provide them with safety, only to have their freedoms taken away in the name of protection. You will find those who want to avoid the responsibility of providing for themselves calling for socialist ideals and equality without giving society anything back in return. These people call for an easy life and though they may not be fully aware of it, are giving up their freedoms in return for a simple, easy life. The avoiders of responsibility would be categorized as socialists and the people who fully accept responsibility for their lives into the anarchist category. What we need is a balance, the republic. And we are slowly losing that republic because people do not want to be responsible for what is going on in this country.
Despite whether or not you agree with that, or whether or not you feel you even have a voice in politics, one thing you will always have if you don’t have any political power, is personal power. Personal power belongs to the individual who is responsible for themselves. Whether or not your voice is heard in politics, business, or other, you always have the final decision as to how you will live and conduct yourself. Think for yourself. Walk your own path without doing injustice to others. No force on Earth could control a unified group of individuals who take responsibility for their own needs and do so in a sustainable way. Go out and be the person your community needs, who gives back instead of seeing what they can take for themselves. If you see something you’d want changed in yourself, in your community, in this nation, or even this planet, take it upon yourself to fix the problem. Be the change you want to see by being responsible for yourself and for the vision you have for this world.