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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances

How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances
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Answer this truthfully…are you really living your life? Or are you pretty good at existing, flowing with, and reacting to things as they happen? Better yet, are you steering at the helm, taking personal responsibility, or are you sitting in the passenger seat, letting others decide for you?

Whatever your answer is, it’s OK. You’re human, and you’re most certainly not perfect. None of us are, but a victim mentality won’t help, so if you are playing the character that blames their circumstances instead of taking personal accountability, then here’s your wake-up call.

You have the luxury of deciding who you want to be every single day you wake up. It’s the people who have mastered the art of living happily and peacefully that have cracked this code, the ones who wake up content and taking responsibility for their actions.

Keep reading and find out how to change your perspective and start accepting personal responsibility for how your life looks.

Personal Responsibility and Self-Actualization

Humans that are content, living as the best version of themselves, and holding themselves accountable for their happiness are what psychologist Abraham Maslow calls living as “fully human.” You’ve probably seen Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs pyramid[1] somewhere in your life, because it’s a leading human behavior theory explaining the motivations behind us as humans[2].

Use Maslow's hierarchy to start taking personal responsibility.

    People have always struggled with the idea of “self-actualization” (i.e. being fully human) sitting at the top of the pyramid, making it appear like an unattainable peak that few will ever reach. However, that wasn’t Maslow’s intention; he didn’t actually create the pyramid. He wrote about a hierarchy, and someone else assumed it was a pyramid, and after all these years, we’re finding out what he really meant.

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    “In this choppy surf, a clunky pyramid is of little use. Instead, what is needed is something a bit more functional. We’ll need a sailboat.” -Scott Barry Kaufman[3]

    Humanistic psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman reworked and refreshed the pyramid based on the latest science in human behavior in his novel, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization. Being fully human, Kaufman stressed, is about living in the moment, enjoying the ride, and doing what you love, because when you feel like you’re achieving your purpose, you feel aligned within yourself, and you’re able to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

    Here’s how to edge closer to that stage through personal responsibility.

    Why You Need to Take Personal Responsibility

    When you set sail, you don’t set off without a direction or destination in mind, right?

    Life is the same, though a lot of us are out there living aimless lives and consequently falling prey to the grips of anxiety and depression. This is why it’s important to have an aim or direction, a North Star to head towards, which shouldn’t be confused with materialistic goals, like getting rich or buying that house.

    If you’ve ever lived the “I’ll be happy when” life, you’ll know it’s a tough lesson to learn when you find out that you never feel genuinely happy because the goalpost keeps moving. It’s also key to make life decisions yourself because living someone else’s life is a sure-fire way to end up unhappy.

    What you need to do is find a balance between deciding what direction will lead you to be your best self and making sure that you’re enjoying all areas of your life.

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    “The hard part is really living in the moment and being able to sail through life without the end in mind. Just like it takes courage to open your sail on a sailboat and see where the winds will take you, it takes a lot of courage to become the best version of yourself.” -Scott Barry Kaufman

    What Is the Best Version of You?

    Aiming to be the best version of yourself is all about acceptance. You need to be able to accept the good with the bad, accept the shadow, and all the things that hide and cower in the dark. Uncover the darkness by giving it some light.

    If you’ve had a rough childhood or suffered trauma, if you feel aimless or lost at sea, whatever it is, you have to accept a portion of responsibility for where you are. You’re not responsible for the beliefs you hold based on things people have told you, but you are responsible for dealing with them.

    People who accept responsibility for their strengths and weaknesses and choose to spend their life developing and improving on the healthy, positive aspects are the ones who show courage. Climb up the mast of your sailboat and rise above your own personal desires and feelings. You might just see that there are billions of other boats bobbing around out there, and some might need your help.

    But you can’t help them until you’ve helped yourself.

    How to Take Personal Responsibility

    The road to learning how to take personal responsibility can be a difficult one, but start simple, and then begin to tackle the more difficult aspects. Here are two steps you need to take based on the sailing metaphor we’ve been working with.

    1. Focus on the Basics of Your Journey

    Just like the ocean, our life has many ups and downs, ebbs and flows. If you start building a solid sailboat, you can withstand the weather and hold course without capsizing or filling with water. The hull represents your basic needs: safety, self-esteem, and connection with others.

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    Check-in and ask yourself whether your basic needs are being met. Do you feel confident about who you are as a person? Do you struggle with willpower and motivation? Do you have enough connections with others?

    “No human being is exempt from the dire consequences of loneliness, and no other basic human need satisfaction can substitute for a deep connection.” -Abraham Maslow

    2. Open Your Sails and Be Willing to Fail

    Maslow was all about not focusing and stressing too much on the destination. Yes, head in the right direction, but focus on enjoying the sail by finding purpose and following that desire to explore.

    When was the last time you took the courage to really open your sails? To be vulnerable and willing to fail[4]? When was the last time you were in a flow state, in a moment where you were so engrossed in what you were doing that you forgot about your insecurities and worries, where you were just happy?

    Maslow believed we all had our own form of peak experience:

    “Whether an excellent athletic or music performance, creative experience, aesthetic perception, the love experience, sexual experience, childbirth, moments of insight and understanding, religious or mystical experience, or overcoming a profound challenge — it is any experience that comes close to perfection for that person.”

    Being fully human means that you seek out new, challenging, and uncertain events to further develop yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice to raise the tide for the other boats and seize amazing opportunities? Imagine if you could just forget all about what’s negative and just focus on being in the moment.

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    3. Move Forward With Intention

    As you sail through life, are you making intentional goals and plans, or are you simply letting things happen and watching life pass by without grabbing hold of the moments?

    To start taking personal responsibility, work on goal setting. When possible, set SMART goals so that you can measure your progress as you move through them. When you know when and how you should be completing goals, it will be easier to measure your progress and take responsibility for all you have and haven’t done to achieve them.

    You can learn how to set SMART goals here.

    4. Live in the Moment

    As you’re moving through the ups and downs on the ocean of your life, are you really honing in on each present moment, or are your thoughts focused on the past and future? Do you dwell on the mistakes others made that forced you into a difficult position? Do you complain about what’s happening now?

    Stop blaming other people or situations if you really want to relish each moment in your life. Start taking personal responsibility for each thought and emotion that passes through you. Stop reacting and start analyzing.

    If you have trouble with this, try starting a mindfulness meditation practice to give your mind the space it needs to exist in the present.

    Final Thoughts

    If you don’t remember the last time you felt truly happy, if you feel uninspired or lost, if you feel like you’re on the wrong path, then start with the basics. Make sure your basic needs are being met before you move closer to self-actualization.

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    Look at the mistakes you’ve made in life, learn from them, and move on to doing bigger and better things. Once you start taking personal responsibility, you’ll find your compass naturally points you in the direction of happiness and success.

    More on Taking Personal Responsibility

    Featured photo credit: Alex Blăjan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Daina Worrall

    Lawyer, C. Hypnotherapist and RTT Therapist - Personal Development & Mental Health

    Overcome Fear and Anxiety with These 4 Mindset Shifts Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice) How to Cure Depression (Professional Advice from a Therapist) How to Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Action Now How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

    17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd
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    If you are like most people, you probably have big goals and dreams that you would like to succeed in — you want to be the top in your career, live a healthy lifestyle, or flourish in your relationships.

    Everyone dreams of a positive future, but most people don’t realize the secret to a truly successful life:

    You determine your future in the way you spend your everyday moments. If you want to be a successful person, you must consistently develop good daily habits. As Aristotle pointed out:

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

    Building positive daily habits is a huge challenge, but can you imagine the amazing things you could accomplish with just a little commitment and determination?

    Creating lasting, healthy habits is the real key difference between people who are successful in life and those who are unsuccessful.

    You might be wondering which specific habits make the biggest difference. Not to worry, I’ve compiled a comparison list to help you get a jump start on a successful future.

    1. Successful people embrace change. Unsuccessful people fear change.

    Change is a constant for all of humanity, and it is important that you develop a positive relationship with it.

    When unexpected or unwelcome changes arise, ask yourself how you can embrace it instead of running away. A few practical ways to reverse a change-fearing mindset include:

    • Take a moment to recognize and address any fears associated with the upcoming change.
    • Communicate with a person you trust about your negative feelings toward change.
    • Practice positive thinking, which you can read about in the next section.

    2. Successful people exude joy. Unsuccessful people think, say and do negative things.

    A joyful, positive disposition can seem like a distant reality in today’s cynical world, but it may be easier to achieve than you think. All you have to do is notice the good things around you and practice being thankful.

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    Mindfulness and gratitude are not just buzz words – choosing a positive attitude can honestly change your life. Many studies have found that thankfulness leads to greater happiness. Furthermore, research indicates that gratitude may even have a lasting positive impact on the brain and overall mental health.[1]

    3. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful people hold grudges.

    As a human being, you have likely been offended or hurt by others plenty of times. Don’t give in to the temptation to hold a grudge. Let it go.

    Note that forgiving someone does not equate to giving up your boundaries (which are very important) or even admitting that the offending party is right. You should choose to let go for your own peace of mind.

    4. Successful people track progress. Unsuccessful people just criticize.

    Some kinds of criticism, such as constructive criticism, are good for personal and professional development. The kind of criticism I’m talking about is the pessimistic, nagging, unhelpful variety. This is the kind of criticism in play when you are unfairly harsh to yourself or others.

    Toss unfounded criticisms aside and consider tracking your “wins” or your progresses, no matter how small. Take mental notes or keep a progress journal.

    If you have a solid sense of what you have achieved, you will be less tempted to be hard on yourself.

    5. Successful people share information, data and ideas. Unsuccessful people hoard.

    If you have useful information or generate brilliant ideas on the regular, your first instinct may be to keep it all to yourself for personal gain and solo recognition.

    Instead of hoarding bright ideas, share them with your team. Your talents will be on display for the team, and the team will be able to support you and make your ideas a reality.

    6. Successful people are humble. Unsuccessful people talk more than they listen.

    Humility is key. The ability to listen to other people, really listen and understand, is essential to success in both work and relationships — and to listen you have to be humble.

    Everyone has experienced the frustration of being in a one-sided conversation. When someone approaches you with a question or concern, put your own world aside for just a moment and give them the kindness of your full attention.

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    7. Successful people take risks. Unsuccessful people take the easy way out.

    The next time your heart is racing and you want to walk away, consider embracing the risk. You never know what might happen if you take a chance.

    Embracing risks looks like accepting the speaking engagement even though it seems a little scary. Success takes the courageous route, not the easy route.

    8. Successful people learn, improve and read every day. Unsuccessful people stop learning.

    Instead of binge-watching a show tonight, save an hour before bed to read a book and expand your mind.

    Unsuccessful people are afraid to be flexible – they don’t challenge themselves to learn new things. Avoid this pitfall by exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas every day.

    9. Successful people handle problems well. Unsuccessful people act before they think.

    The next time you run into a problem or even an emergency, try to work through your initial panic reaction with a few deep breaths.

    Instead of acting rashly, think through your next actions as quickly but as logically as you can.

    Learning to handle problems thoughtfully is an absolutely essential tool in the successful person’s toolbox (that’s you!).

    10. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures. Unsuccessful people blame others.

    Along with a previous tip about humility, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn to do – but also the most rewarding. When you’ve failed, you must fight the urge to pass the blame. Successful people are able to fail honestly and gracefully.

    And, hey, don’t feel bad about failing. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed too many times to count. It’s all a part of the process.

    You can check out this article for more tips on how to fail well:

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    How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

    11. Successful people work with passion and commitment. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.

    A short and sweet lesson for you:

    You should never expect to achieve the things you want without working hard.

    Follow your passion and stay committed to pursuing it. Work hard and stick to your habits every day. You’ll earn your reward.

    12. Successful people spend time with the right people. Unsuccessful people think they already know it all.

    A lot of people miss out on useful relationships and information sharing because they think they can do it all alone.

    Spend time with people who inspire you, spur you to be a better person, and remind you that you can’t go it alone.

    13. Successful people make to-do lists and maintain proper life balance. Unsuccessful people waste their time.

    Ah, time management. Unsuccessful people never master the art of organization and planning.

    Here are a few tips for you when it comes to time management:

    • Make to-do lists. Seriously, this will help you. Make time to do it every morning, evening, or whenever you are able.
    • Keep track of your time. Are you happy with the way you are currently balancing things? What changes can you make?
    • Keep a calendar full of your long-term goals (see next tip).

    14. Successful people write down goals and think long term about their burning desires. Unsuccessful people get distracted every day.

    Why is it so important to keep a long-term goal calendar? Here’s the deal:

    The things you are passionate about today need a backbone.

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    Give your passionate ideas sustainability by writing down goals and staying on task instead of succumbing to distraction.

    15. Successful people compliment others. Unsuccessful people try to bring others down to their level.

    There is no greater confidence than saying “no” to sudden jealous or envious feelings and choosing to sincerely admire someone’s talents instead.

    Unsuccessful people live in a world driven by competition, but successful people know that building people up is far more rewarding than bringing them down.

    16. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope they fail.

    In the same vein as the point above, this tip is all about good intentions.

    Care for the people around you. Encourage them toward their successes. Hoping that others fail will not help you at all.

    17. Successful people know their purpose and mission. Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want to be.

    The last thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is one of the most important:

    Keep your mission in mind.

    Don’t be swayed to and fro by passing emotions and events. Know who you are and pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.

    Final thoughts

    Above all, stay confident. Truly believe that you can be and are successful. Strive to prove it in your day-to-day habits and activities!

    What are you waiting for? Choose one of the habits above and get started today.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Berkeley University of California: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

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