We all know how stressful life can get, and how quickly things can get a little bit… out of control! It’s so easy to blame things on other people, or on the circumstances around you.
Stepping up and taking responsibility for what’s going on in your life is one of the most important things you will ever do – and one of the best.
When you own what’s happening in your life, you can really start to shape your future.
What Does It Mean To Take Responsibility For Your Actions?
Essentially, this means acknowledging the role you play in your own life – the good bits and the bad bits.
Rather than looking around for someone or something else to blame, you must accept that you are in charge of what is going on.
Sure, other people and factors have an influence, but you are responsible for your own actions and anything that happens within the boundaries of your control.
This means apologizing when you have done something wrong, or at least acknowledging why someone may be expecting an apology from you!
It means accepting that your own actions may have led you to the situation you’re in now, whether you like it or not.
The good news is that it also means celebrating yourself when you do something great. Own that amazing presentation you did at work and take responsibility and credit for the hard work you put into it. Be proud of yourself when you succeed at something.
So it’s not all doom and gloom. Acknowledging your actions can also mean giving yourself the respect you deserve.
We’ve all heard various quotes about being responsible for your own happiness, and there is so much truth in this.
By stepping up and accepting that your actions have consequences, you can find ways to make those consequences positive.
By realizing that you are in charge of your own life, you’ll find it much easier to start creating – and maintaining – your own happiness.
Why Is It Important To Be Accountable?
Accountability is crucial to having a good relationship with people around you, as well as with yourself.
Colleagues, for example, don’t want to work alongside someone who cannot take constructive feedback. They want to work with someone who is aware of their limitations as well as their strengths and who isn’t afraid to respond to others’ opinions and change things up if needed.
Friends and family members tend to give a lot more slack than work associates do, but that doesn’t mean they’ll let you coast along forever.
They’ll be willing to let a few things slide, to let you grow into yourself and not take full responsibility for everything all of the time. That said, there are limits!
At some point, the loved ones in your life will expect you to step up and be accountable.
Intimate relationships work the same way – equality is important in every relationship, so accepting responsibility is crucial to maintaining these bonds.
You may also like (article continues below):
- Balancing Your Internal-External Locus Of Control: Finding The Sweet Spot
- How To Stop Running Away From Your Problems And Face Them With Courageous Resolve
- How To Stop Repeating The Same Mistakes Over And Over
- How To Get Your Life Back On Track When The Wheels Have Come Off
11 Ways To Start Taking Responsibility
Now that you know how important it is for you to take responsibility for your actions and your life, how do you achieve this?
Well, you can…
1. Stop Blaming Others
For one, it gets boring very quickly! Even people who adore you will get bored of you constantly blaming others for things that are within your control.
Secondly, it’s exhausting for you. Shifting the blame makes you feel shifty a lot of the time, right? We often know when we’re pushing the blame onto someone else and it can leave us feeling pretty guilty and drained. It’s unfair on the other person you’re blaming things on, and it’s also unfair on you.
2. Stop Making Excuses
Much like blaming other people, making excuses allows you to shirk responsibility for how a situation has turned out.
Of course there are things that are out of your control, but there is a lot that is within your control too.
Maybe you’re late to meet a friend for dinner. Instead of bemoaning the traffic on your journey, just be honest and say that you didn’t leave enough time or factor in the rush hour jams.
And to avoid having to make excuses in the first place, think of ways that you can build contingency into your plans.
Ask how you can be prepared for things to go awry. What is your plan B? What can you do to avoid inconveniencing others?
3. Stop Bemoaning Your Situation
Sure, your life may suck in some ways, but if all you ever do is talk about how much it sucks, nothing much is going to change.
Again, not everything is within your control, but where you do have control, you must be willing to take it.
Moaning about your situation is often the same as waving a white flag and accepting it as permanent and insurmountable.
You have more power than you realize.
4. Follow Through On Promises And Commitments
Did you say you would do something?
Then do it.
Be someone who is true to their word and whose promises mean something.
Sure, if something pressing comes up, you can explain to the other person why you are unable to do whatever it is you said you’d do.
But these times should be few and far between and the reasons for them must be genuine and important.
That means you can’t cancel dinner plans because you had a crumby day at work. The world should not come to a standstill so easily.
Part of this is knowing when not to make firm commitments or promises that you know you will not be able to keep.
Be a realist and only say that you’ll do something if you really want to or intend to do it.
5. Know What You Really Want In Life
A big part of taking responsibility for your life is knowing what sort of life you wish to lead.
Sure, that can be hard to figure out at times, but it is a process that you should try to stick with and go through as many times as is necessary for you to form concrete and realistic aims for your life.
6. Take Action
Once you know what you want in life, you can do things that bring you closer to that point.
The first 3 points above – blaming others, making excuses, and bemoaning your situation – all have one thing in common: they don’t require any action.
Instead, if you have done something, failed to do something, or are just drifting through life, your next action is all important.
Do you need to rectify a mistake? Do you need to apologize for not doing something? Do you need to set a course and do things to grow in life?
Taking action is pivotal in embracing your responsibilities to life.
7. Forgive Yourself When Things Go Wrong
You’re not perfect and you will make mistakes.
While it is important that you own up to these mistakes, it is equally as important to forgive yourself for them.
No human is infallible – we all make mistakes. But how you deal with them emotionally is important.
Be gentle with yourself and know that mistakes don’t make you a bad person. In fact, mistakes are lessons that make you a better person going forward – IF you learn from them.
8. Break Your Bad Habit
Know that avoiding responsibility is as much a habit as it is a conscious decision. It is a mindset that you create and strengthen through repeated execution.
This can lead to accidentally pushing away the people you care about. You might accidentally blame something on a loved one because you’re so used to pushing away responsibility. This can really damage the relationships in your life.
It’s important to remember that each small shirk of responsibility builds up and can cause problems later along the line.
But, breaking the habit begins with identifying and accepting it for what it is. Once you do this, you’ll become more aware – more conscious – of when you are doing it. And this gives you the power to stop before you pull that verbal (or mental) trigger.
9. Put It On Paper
It might help if you start writing things down.
Our thoughts and feelings can get very messy and overwhelming, so it becomes really hard to process what’s really going on. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking responsibility for our actions because we’re not fully aware of what’s happening.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to get a new process in place.
Write down how you feel about certain events or people. That group work project that didn’t go to plan? Write down the part you played in it and consider, objectively, how well you did.
If you can genuinely say that your contributions were faultless, well done. If not, and you’re an actual human being(!), consider the ways you could have helped out more or gone further.
By seeing these ideas written down, you’ll realize in your own safe space that you’ve got room to grow.
Constructive feedback from others can feel like a slap in the face, however well-intentioned it may be. By seeing things you’ve observed about yourself, you’ll feel more comfortable accepting feedback and will learn to own your behavior.
10. Identify Triggers For Your Denial
What situations are most likely to result in you running from your responsibilities?
Are there areas of your life where you often resort to the blame, excuses, or moaning mentioned above?
If you can identify the situations in which refuse to be held accountable for your actions, you can find ways to think differently about them.
Perhaps there are certain people with whom you cannot accept any blame because doing so makes you feel inferior or incompetent.
Whatever the case, knowing when, where, and why you refuse to take responsibility for your life and actions is an important step in addressing this issue.
11. Recognize Your Choices
Life is full of choices. Moments when we can take one path or another.
Some choices are big. Others are small. But it is important to recognize that you make the choice one way or another.
Identifying bad choices you have made is not an easy thing to do. No one wants to admit that there was a better option that they did not take.
But accepting that the choice has already been made and cannot be unmade goes a long way in coming to terms with it.
And you have choices in front of you now. You can choose a path that can help rectify a bad situation, or you can choose a path that involves burying your head in the sand and denying responsibility.
Which will you choose?
Why Should You Do This And What Are The Benefits?
By accepting responsibility for the things you can control, you’ll feel more positive about your life in general.
Avoiding accountability can make us feel frustrated and more than a little guilty.
By acknowledging what we’re doing, we can lift those negative feelings away. Sure, we may still feel bad for accepting that we’ve not done our best, but at least we have a level of awareness and want to work toward bettering ourselves.
This positive attitude is proactive and will make you feel so much better about other aspects of your life, too. By getting into better habits, you’ll form a better mindset.
You’ll feel good about things and more confident in what you’re doing, which can lead to better results – a win-win situation!
By being responsible, you’re showing that you have respect for yourself and others. This can really help improve your relationships at work, as well as with your family, friends, and partner.
You’ll benefit so much from stepping up and owning your behavior and you’ll gain a lot of other people’s respect along the way.
So, really, what’s stopping you?
Sure, it can feel quite scary and intimidating at first, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly your mindset and behavior shift.
We’re not saying that you have to suddenly apologize for everything and constantly feel guilty and downtrodden! Just accept that you’re human and you’re never going to be ‘perfect’ in your own eyes.
By acknowledging what you’re doing and how you’re behaving, you can start to shape your life for the better. Accept yourself for who you are and find ways to make yourself feel better along the way.