If you’re listening to the news these days, you’re likely hearing a lot of jabbering on Capitol Hill about the dysfunction of healthcare.gov. Though not surprising, I still find it disheartening to hear grown adults, leaders in their field and leaders in government, pointing fingers and playing the blame game. In politics, whatever is wrong is almost always someone else’s fault, definitely the other party’s fault, and perhaps even another country’s fault.
Imagine, just for one moment, what it would be like to live in a world where, when things are amiss, leaders stood up and said, “I see what’s wrong with this picture, and here is where I am responsible for what’s happening. As a result, here’s what I can do to turn it around. Do you support me on this?” Can you imagine? I believe the support would be mind-boggling.
The chances of this happening any time soon appear dim (though with the announcement of Marianne Williamson running for congress in California, the prospects are looking up!). We can, however, focus on our own sphere of influence.
How often do you play the blame game? When something isn’t going well for you, do you point the finger elsewhere or do you examine where you can take responsibility and step up to the plate?
If something isn’t feeling right in a relationship, whether it’s with a friend, a family member, or a lover, do you look solely at the other person for what they can do to fix it, or do you look within at the part you play? It’s so easy to pick apart how other people are failing you, but perhaps not so enticing to examine how you are failing yourself.
For everything that’s going on in your life, you bear some responsibility, even if it’s only in your perspective and certainly in your response. That may sound harsh, but it’s actually exceptionally empowering as it gives you room to move, change, flow, and evolve.
When I was in my teens, my family went through a rough patch. Honestly, at times it was pretty hellish. Due to the circumstances, I realized I could pretty much do whatever I wanted and blame my behavior on family issues, as though it gave me permission to act crazy and throw my life away. Thankfully, at a young age I knew this was not the answer, and that goofing off would only mess with my own path, no one else’s. Ultimately, regardless of the situation at home, I still had jurisdiction over my actions and reactions. Though I had my ways of rebelling (sorry Mom!), I stayed on top of my academic game and ensured my pathway to University.
The same is true for romantic relationships that haven’t panned out. People always want to know, what happened? Well, I could give the easy answer and say he did this and that, but the truth runs so much deeper than that, and it’s one where we both hold responsibility. How could it be any other way? We were both in the relationship and both contributed to its dissolution. If I can’t look at my participation, how can I expect to grow from the experience and into the healthy relationship I desire?
Pointing fingers and placing blame only serves to disempower you. You’re basically saying it has nothing to do with you and therefore you can’t do anything about it. On the flip side, reflecting on where you can take responsibility creates an empowered stance. This leads to choice and action. This leads to forgiveness and gratitude. Isn’t that preferable to hopelessness, self-pity, and anger?
I’m not saying the answer is to let people off the hook. People do shady things, and sometimes that crosses a boundary that cannot be repaired in the context of the relationship. Yet even knowing when it’s time to walk away from an unhealthy situation is a form of personal empowerment. You are responsible for you, and if you find yourself in a situation where most of your energy is going toward what the other person or people are doing to wrong you, it’s time to focus your attention inward on where your power lies to make change for the better.
Take action now:
1) In the comments below, share an experience you are dealing with, or have dealt with, where you can take responsibility for your role.
2) Share this article far and wide, with your friends, family, and social network. The ripple effect of people taking personal responsibility for themselves is profound!
You can find Sasha over at her Empowering Wellness blog.