Can you imagine a world where everything goes according to plan? Where things generally work out without any issues or retributions? That would be pretty nice, right?
But the world doesn’t work that way and probably for good reason. Many times, things just don’t work out in spite of our best-laid plans. There are also times when things go wrong because of our actions or inactions.
Let’s focus on the latter for a minute.
These are the things that are within our circle of influence or control but go wrong either because we failed to make the right decision or took too long to do so. In such instances, we may be left with less than ideal situations or consequences.
More often than not, we may find it difficult to accept our role in that problem or take responsibility for our actions.
Responsibility here is simply about ‘taking ownership for our role in what happened’. This usually requires a high level of honesty and humility, two things that are really difficult to put into practice.
Why is it so hard to take responsibility for our actions?
I will be honest with you, there are times things go so wrong that it’s really hard to accept ownership. We want to be anywhere but there.
I know I have had so many of those moments and quite a few that happened at work. On one particular occasion, we had an office event and had been working with an event planner. However, on the day of the event, I asked the planner to change the pre-agreed decor. Suffice to say, it turned out really bad (I had this idea of what it would look like in my head, which was very far from reality). I was obviously to blame for this but just couldn’t accept it. I tried to make excuses and push the bulk, even if a little, but it was no use. It all fell squarely at my feet.
I realized that my reticence stemmed from a few fears; I didn’t want to be associated with a failed project, I was afraid of possible repercussions and of course, ashamed. The good news from this cringe-worthy story was that I finally accepted my role and learnt from it.
“Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Let’s look at a few of these fears.
1. The Shame Factor
Shame is usually a common hindrance that doesn’t allow us take responsibility for our actions. Our feeling of shame or inadequacy may mean we don’t own up to our part in whatever occurred. It may also mean we don’t let others know when we need help.
2. Fear of failure
I believe most of us have this innate need for perfection. We may all accept that we are fallible, but still, we continue in our quest for perfection. Which also means there is no place for failure.
Failure is not something we believe we should associate with or even accept. It is something we often ignore, we push down and sweep right under the rug. But failure doesn’t work that way. It is a part of who we are and an important part of living a whole life.
“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”
3. Fear of the consequences of our actions
You’ve probably heard this popular phrase from the Bible “you shall reap what you sow”. Our reluctance to take responsibility may also stem from our fear of the repercussions of our actions.
The problem with these fears is that they may mean living a life of “less”, a life where we allow others make our decisions for us so that we don’t “mess things up” by making the wrong decisions or not doing anything.
But it doesn’t it work that way, we are also losing when we fail to take ownership or accept responsibility.
Why we need to take responsibility for our actions
Ladies, I know it can be difficult but we have just one life and have to make the most of it. This also means that we take ownership of our lives and not leave it to others to do it for us.
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Taking personal responsibility gives us a chance to:
1. Correct our mistakes – when we are open and honest enough to accept what we did right or wrong, we are better placed to correct it. Basically, we are only able to correct a mistake if we accept that there was a mistake and it was our fault.
2. Develop ourselves – Correcting our mistakes may mean learning a few things and unlearning a few others. This gives us a chance to develop ourselves. For you, it may mean learning to consider the facts before you act, rather than making rash decisions that affect you.
3. Practice the right virtues/values – Are we people that do what we preach? It’s easy to talk about humility, about kindness and self-control but definitely a different ball game to live it. Accepting responsibility for our actions is also a way to live an honest and upright life. How about that?
But then, I noticed that there is a tendency to over do it. This is where we take responsibility for other people’s actions. I know I have done this a few times and I’ve read this is more common amongst women.
This goes back to our sense of guilt and our need to belong discussed, I mentioned in this post.
Tips for learning to take responsibility for our actions
- Being open and teachable (see Proverbs 13:18)
- Living out the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5: 22-23)
- Dying to self and walking in humility (see Proverbs 11:2)
- Understanding and appreciating our values and principles.
For more posts on living a life of more, Check out these helpful posts in the Empowerment Series.