1. The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or having control over someone.
2. The state or fact of being accountable for something.
3. The opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.
The inspiration for this message came from one of Oprah’s videos that I stumbled across during my internet wanderings. Her first sentence; “You are responsible for your own life” caught my attention immediately. Still, I wasn’t sure it was the right message until I picked up the Louise Hay Wisdom Cards that sit on my desk and the one on the very top said “It is so comfortable to play victim, because it is always someone else’s fault. I have to stand on my own two feet and take some responsibility.”
Avoiding responsibility is appealing because it sets up the illusion of blamelessness. It’s a way to keep from looking at things within ourselves that are less than ideal…maybe a little unappealing, a touch uncomfortable, or even downright ugly. This could have started out as a safety strategy. Who hasn’t tried to convince an angry parent that it was all a sibling’s fault, in order to avoid punishment? It works for a time, maybe for an entire lifetime.
The downside is that when you shift responsibility onto someone or something else you give up every bit of your power and effectively render yourself helpless. Ultimately that’s a pretty hefty price to pay.
Understanding this concept can be a bit of a struggle. Is responsibility the same thing as being at fault or to blame? Because that doesn’t seem quite right. It kind of feels like adding another big rock to a backpack already too heavy to carry.
The difference between responsibility and blame is that Responsibility = Empowerment. By taking control of the things that are within our power to control we have the ability to change our circumstances.
At WISP we often say that we want to help women who have made the transition from victim to survivor, and are on their way to thriving. This has everything to do with understanding how responsibility works, with reclaiming personal power, and making conscious choices in handling the circumstances life dishes up.
The flip side of that Wisdom Card says “I have the power to make changes”.
Indeed, each of us certainly does.
Will Smith breaks it down in this video about Fault vs. Responsibility.
“Nothing will ever change while you point the finger of blame. Out of responsibility comes possibility.”
Lisa Villa Prosen
“Responsibility is proportionate to opportunity.”
“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama