What It Means To Take Personal Responsibility
“What do you mean you are out of chicken salads?” a customer at a fast food restaurant asked the cashier.
“I’m sorry ma’am, we are out of chicken salads until tomorrow.”
The woman banged her fist on the counter, and shoved soda cups, straws and napkins on the floor while yelling at the cashier. A police officer arrived and asked the woman to leave. She became irate. “I’m not afraid of the police. You can’t do anything to me. I leave when I want to leave.”
The officer advised the woman that she was under arrest for disorderly conduct. The woman resisted arrest and a scuffle ensued. The officer used force to handcuff the woman. Customers videoed the latter part of the incident showing the officer who was a different race from the woman being treated roughly.
The video went viral on social media and people were outraged at the police officer for what they felt was roughing up an innocent woman “simply” because her race was different from his. The police officer was branded a racist and was suspended pending an investigation.
Taking personal responsibility is being able to see your participation in any situation. In every conflict, all players have a role. Often, people who think they are the “good” one refuse to see where their behavior contributed to a messy situation.
If the police officer took personal responsibility he could’ve seen where maybe he was too aggressive and he could’ve handled the situation differently.
If the female customer took personal responsibility for her behavior and actions she could see where she was the root cause of her situation escalating to her arrest.
Taking personal responsibility shifts us from who is wrong or right into the arena of ‘what can I learn’ about this situation or person to become a better human.
I was blessed to have therapists and spiritual teachers who taught me the power of taking personal responsibility. When dealing with my problems they taught me to always ask myself, “What could I have done or not done to prevent this situation from happening the way it did and what could I have done better or different?” Most people don’t want to see their contribution in negative situations, they only want to see the wrong in others and see what someone else could’ve done to avoid the situation. This reaction doesn’t trigger self-empowerment.
Enablers who pacify people’s poor behavior think they’re ‘good’ and people on the receiving end of their deeds who don’t act as they feel they should are the bad ones. Action and inaction are ways to take personal responsibility. Sometimes, not getting involved in situations where you need to take a stand can cause negative situations to fester. When people behave badly and don’t take personal responsibility there’s usually an enabler who is or has been involved in their lives. Enablers are often the root cause of why people behave poorly because they rob others of the opportunity to learn the power of taking personal responsibility.
I made many poor choices as a mother. My son, who is an adult now has also made some poor choices. I don’t blame myself for the choices my child has made as an adult however I can take personal responsibility for my role in his life when he was young. I wasn’t into motherhood and I found distractions like hanging out at night clubs, dating losers and getting involved in various careers to avoid playing the role of a nurturing mother. My son’s father, nor I set a healthy foundation for our child to spring from.
My soon to be released memoir, “Buy Your Own Damn Cocktail” is my journey of learning the power of taking personal responsibility. A reviewer for my memoir said, “You have a way of allowing the reader to feel your pain without feeling sorry for you.” I am able to do this because instead of playing the victim I choose to take responsibility for what happens to me and become a victor. Taking personal responsibility enables me to learn and empower myself. Getting stuck on what happened to me is paralyzing .
The Power of taking personal responsibility melts anger, resentment and hate, and makes it easy for you to forgive yourself and others because you soften your stance when you realize you’re an equal player in everything that happens to you. Take a stand and honor your role in everything and anything that happens to you and you’ll find yourself feeling free.
There is individual and group responsibility. Often today, people who behave poorly cry racism and discrimination. Sometimes what is called racism is simply poor behavior colliding. All isms exist however when we brush off situations as racist, sexist and discriminatory without seeing our role we don’t take the opportunity to see how we can make improvements within ourselves. In order for the consciousness of a people to expand, we’ll have to call out ourselves, friends and relatives, when we or they behave poorly.
Many Americans want free government health care yet many aren’t interested in taking personal responsibility for their “personal” health. Some abuse their bodies with food, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and feel the responsibility for their health is the role of the government. I am for affordable health insurance and medical care however taking responsibility for our “personal” health means we must individually first make the effort to do the best we can to ingest healthy foods and exercise to lessen the burden on the government and tax payers. The government and doctors can provide medical care such as pills and surgery however true health care is individual.
The Power of personal responsibility helps you:
1. Take necessary action to create change.
2. Helps you become empowered
3. Gives you a choice of being a victim or a victor
4. Helps you become bigger than your problem
5. Shifts you into the mode of “What I do with what happens to me is more important than What happens to me.”
6. Helps you forgive yourself and others
7. Remove the shadow of shame and embarrassment
8. Become wise men and wise women
9. Realize problems are just opportunities for you to transform, grow and become enlightened
10. See the gift of understanding and compassion in yourself, others and in any situation regardless of how awful you or others may appear.