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Published on July 28, 2020

How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances

How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances

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 with a sense of 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 no one wants to be life’s victim, and no one wants to hang out with one either, so if you are playing the character that blames their circumstances instead of taking responsibility as a key player in your own story, then here’s your wake-up call.

You have the luxury of deciding who you want to be every single day you wake up. From the minute you open your eyes in the morning, you have the ability to decide who you’re going to be that day. 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 lives. That might feel like worlds away from how you’re feeling, but it’s all about taking a different perspective.

Want to see what this looks like? Keep reading and find out how to change your perspective and start taking 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.

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[2]

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.

Sounds good, right? Well, here’s how to edge closer to that stage.

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 super 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.

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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 everyday life.

“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 take responsibility for their lives and their 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.

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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. Secure the Hull (and the Sailor)

Just like the ocean, our life has many ups and downs, ebbs and flows, but having a solid sailboat means you can withstand the weather and hold course without capsizing or filling with water. The hull represents your basic needs, your non-negotiables required for a safe journey, which are: safety, self-esteem, and connection with others.

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?

You need to ask these questions in order to know where your liabilities are. They apply to all of us, and they could be the reasons your current journey isn’t much fun.

“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

Remember: You only get one sailboat and one journey, so you’ve got to make it count.

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2. Open and Strengthen Your Sails

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, peak experiences, 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? 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.

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.

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

More on Taking Personal Responsibility in Life

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

How to Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Blaming Circumstances 10 Ways to Live an Intentional Life How to Cure Depression (Professional Advice from a Therapist) How to Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Action Now Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice)

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Last Updated on August 3, 2020

10 Reasons Why You Should Chase Your Dreams

10 Reasons Why You Should Chase Your Dreams

Contemplating chasing your dreams? This is a little reminder why you shouldn’t.

After reading this article, you’ll say “Why not?” and will go after your dreams. Here are 10 reasons why you should chase yourr dreams.

1. Develop a Sense of Empowerment

The key to a healthy self-esteem is the ability to feel empowered. I am not talking about a power trip here; it’s all about believing in one’s ability to accomplish great things. In the willpower of the individual to reach and surpass their true potential.

2. Create a Legacy for Yourself

Who doesn’t want to be remembered? Let’s face it, deep down we all care about what others think of us. We may not show it, we may never admit to it, but we do. So why not create a legacy for yourself?

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Creating a reputation that will follow you through life and beyond is important, no matter how much value to put to it.

3. Make Your Family and Friends Proud of You

This is self-explanatory and as important as creating a legacy.

Yes, making people proud of you matters; you know it, I know it and for some of us more than others. It may or may not be the driving force behind what we do, but it’s definitely a factor.

4. Challenge Yourself

Prove to yourself that you can do a) whatever you put your mind to do and b) prove people who convinced you that you can’t do something wrong.

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The bottom line is that everyone likes to be challenged. You don’t have to be a hard core competitive personality to appreciate a good challenge, so dream it, and then go for it. Whatever it may be, just chase it.

5. Learn New Things and Acquire New Skills

There is nothing more dangerous for the human kind or our health than a dull mind.

Learning new things keeps us healthy, and stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. Whether it’s a new language, a new hobby, past time, or a craft. Learn how to sail, knit, speak Japanese, learn Excel, write a book, take cooking classes, run a marathon.

6. The Rewarding Results

There is nothing more rewarding that achieving your goals, setting new records and looking back to the hard work and where it lead you. You will become a mentor to someone that has the same or similar dreams and aspirations as you.

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The best part? The credit for whatever you achieve can never be taken from you. Word of advice: don’t forget to pat yourself on the back every once in a while.

7. Your Life Will Change

No matter what the goal is, no matter what you have dreamed of and achieved, your life will change. You will change.

You will evolve and become more versatile, more intuitive, flexible, and stronger. You will never be the same person you were before you started on your pursuit of your dreams; you will discover abilities about yourself you didn’t know you had.

8. No Regrets

Some people regret the things they do, but almost everyone regrets the things they don’t do. So if you don’t want to live in the limelight of a life not lived, of a dreamed not chased, or a what if state of mind, then go for it!

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9. People Will Look up to You

In the end, it doesn’t even matter if you achieve the goal. The important part is to try. To dream it, to plan it, to try it out.

The goal may and will change, as long as you don’t sit idle you will be looked upon.

Davey Anderson once said:

“No matter how slow you run, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

10. If You Don’t, Who Will?

Exactly my point! Good Luck!

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Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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