I feel like personal responsibility is one of those things we hear a lot about – “Only you can decide to take action!” – but it’s a bit trickier to discuss the nuances of how to practice it and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis. This week, I’m challenging myself to take on that foggy nuance in an effort to challenge you to focus on personal responsibility.
“If you want to be happy, you have to figure out what you are responsible for and what you are not. More specifically, you need to take ownership of your own thoughts, feelings and actions while letting go of the responsibility for the thoughts, feelings and actions of others. You’re the boss of you, and no one else.”
I think most of us think we take responsibility for our own shit. At the same time, I think most of us fall into habits of thinking and speaking that actually pawn off responsibility for our happiness on other people.
For example, do you ever blame your boss for ruining your day? (In your head, obviously.)
Do you tell your spouse he makes you angry?
Do you snap at the kids because they misbehave?
Each of these are an example of how we quickly give others the responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, and actions, instead of recognizing that we have chosen how to respond to someone else.
It’s OK. We all do it.
But, this week I want to challenge you to practice blaming no one.
Put the focus on you.
If someone asks how you’re doing, tell them how you feel – and resist the urge to explain what someone else did to make you feel that way. If you get angry, practice saying how you feel and what you plan to do about it – and leave out the bit about how someone else started it.
Relationship therapists often recommending using “I feel” statements when couples are trying to untangle themselves from co-dependent relationships. The same tactic is taught to kids as a method for communicating more effectively on the playground. You can use it this week to remind yourself to focus on how you feel. You can also add “I decided” and “I did” to your arsenal.
Don’t expect to master the art of personal responsibility in a week. Chances are you will assign unwarranted blame again. That’s totally human.
But, the more you can own your thoughts, feelings, and actions, the more empowered you’ll be to use them to make your life happier.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Let us know in the comments if you’re going to be taking this weekly challenge with us. You can also join the happiness tribe and get support, encouragement, and commiseration as you work on it.