What is personal responsibility? It means you’re able to choose how to make the most out of your life, picking your direction and determining the choices that you’ll make, including the effort you will exert to achieve your goals. Essentially, personal responsibility means you’re taking charge of your life and owning the consequences of the decisions you make. It also means you’re not blaming others for the outcomes of your actions.
We are so quick to blame someone else when things don’t go our way. Nearly any time there is a conflict in today’s culture, there is usually someone pointing fingers at who they think is responsible for a situation rather than coming up with solutions to concerns that have arisen and fixing their own issues that may have been part of the cause. Personal responsibility will enhance protective factors that contribute to our resiliency, which is our ability to bounce back when things don’t go the way we expect them to. Protective factors, including having high self-esteem, good problem-solving skills, feeling in control of our lives and being part of a community help to create optimal outcomes for all of us. Those outcomes in turn will build our protective factors.
Here’s how it works: The first reward you’ll gain when you accept responsibility for your actions is that your self-respect will grow. The more accountable you are, as time goes on, the better you’ll feel about yourself. You’ll also gain the respect of those around you, thereby building a better support system, which is yet another protective factor. Those people who support you will know that you’re reliable and that you’re good for your word. When you accept responsibility, you’ve taken charge of your life and you’ll have the power to make positive changes in your life. You’ll also feel connected to other people, part of a community, and that connectiveness is critical to good self-esteem and overall wellbeing.
As a parent, personal responsibility means it’s time to act like a parent, not your child’s friend. That will go a long way toward helping your child to develop into a productive, contributing adult who you’ll ultimately enjoy being around. If you’re a leader, be willing to own your mistakes (we all make them) and demonstrate to those reporting to you how to acknowledge those errors and work through them. If you’re not happy with where your life is going, don’t look for who to blame. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, get to work and move beyond what’s going wrong toward where you want to be. Personal responsibility will help you be in a position to have a fulfilling life and build relationships that will be part of healthier, happier you.
Printed in The Newark Advocate on September 29, 2019.