Oprah likes to ask people, “What’s one thing you know for sure?” If she ever asked me that question, my reply would be, “You are responsible for your life. You are responsible for your actions, your reactions, and all your decisions. You are also responsible for your happiness.”
I’ve learned so much since launching Believe and Create … about our hopes, fears, dreams, insecurities, beliefs, and more. We have more in common than what you might think.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that some themes keep popping up. In fact, one that stands out is the all-to-common habit of not taking full responsibility for our lives and handing the keys for our happiness over to others, rather than taking responsibility for our happiness, too.
When did we decide to NOT take responsibility for our lives and our happiness?
For most of us, not taking full responsibility for our lives is not a deliberate choice, but one we’ve come to adopt without giving it much thought. And many of us don’t even realize that we’ve surrendered responsibility, rationalizing that we had no choice in the matter.
Now, most people will step up and take responsibility for their own actions. What many of us tend to dodge is taking responsibility for our response to others’ actions. Comments that I regularly see include …
- He’s preventing me from living my life the way I want.
- I can’t get anywhere when she is doing this to me.
- I’d be fine if it weren’t for them treating me this way.
- If I’m nice, they just take advantage of me — so I can’t be nice. But that’s not my fault, it’s theirs.
Here’s the thing: when you blame others instead of taking responsibility, you’re relinquishing your power to change the situation.
I’m reminded of an anecdote that Wayne Dyer used to share in his lectures that illustrates this point. Dyer recounted the story of a patient who came to him for counseling many years ago. The patient blamed his mother for his problems. Dyer told the man, “Okay, next time you stay home but send your mother to me, I’ll fix her … then you’ll be okay.” Obviously treating the mother instead of the patient is an absurd solution.
The point Dyer was making is that you must take responsibility for your life no matter what others do to you or try to do to you. As Dyer said, “All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.”
Are you making a huge mistake by not taking responsibility for your life and for your own happiness?
The truth is that others sometimes make our lives harder. We think if it weren’t for them, everything would be smooth sailing. Yet to say “because he or she or they did something to me, I can’t do this or that” is nothing short of surrendering your right to live your life the way you want to live it.
No one else can ever stop you from becoming who you’re meant to be – only you can do that.
Jim Rohn had it right when he said: “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.”
You can change how you respond to others; You can decide that nothing anyone else says or does is going to keep you from living the life you were meant to live. It’s a decision that’ll serve you well your whole life long.
12 Power Strategies to Help You Take Responsibility for Your Life and Your Happiness
Here are 12 more ideas that will help you on your path to taking responsibility for your life and your happiness …
1. Stop taking things personally. Not everything is about you. If you keep taking every action or word that comes from another person to heart, you’ll be wallowing in self-doubt and insecurity. What anyone else says, does, or thinks does not relieve you from your responsibility for your own thoughts, words, and actions.
2. Happiness is an inside job. If you’re not happy on the inside, you won’t be happy on the outside.
3. Personal responsibility means that you’re willing to accept the consequences of your behavior. You’re willing to step up and do what’s in your best interest, without stomping on the interests of others.
4. Acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake. We all make mistakes. Own it and you’ll earn the respect of others and feel a deeper sense of respect for yourself.
5. Get strategic about your life rather than living in the spur of the moment. Not everything you do has to be precisely planned in advance, but a little forethought can save a lot of regret.
6. Think big-picture. What do you really want from your life? The answer won’t be in your words, it’ll be evident in your actions. Align your actions with your deepest desires.
7. Take responsibility for handling your emotions appropriately. The goal is not to squelch your emotions, they exist for a very good reason. The goal is to manage them and not allow them to become masters that dictate how you behave.
8. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control your response. You’re going to go through some pretty unfair things in your life. How do I know? Because everyone does. The grace with which you handle those situations will largely determine how satisfied you are with your life.
9. There are lessons to be gained from difficult times. Just as you are likely to experience unfairness in your life, difficult times will knock at your door, too. Instead of focusing on the pain, look for the lessons embedded in the challenges.
10. Life will, from time to time, scare you. Don’t dodge the fear. You’re a human being and fear is a very appropriate emotional response to many of the things you will face in your life. Instead of blaming someone else for making you scared, consider the situation an invitation to stare fear down and win. Every time you do, you’ll grow stronger and stronger.
11. Powerlessness feels awful. If you had a choice to feel powerful or powerless, which would you choose? Powerful, right? When you fail to take responsibility for your life, you are choosing to feel powerless. It won’t ever feel good.
12. Ditch the Excuses! Dr. Wayne Dyer (I absolutely loved his work!) wrote a book called Excuses Begone. He also did a fabulous PBS special on it (you can watch clips from it on YouTube). In his research, Dyer noted 17 different excuses that we tend to turn to to explain why we’re not living the happy lives we want to live.
Taking responsibility for your life and your happiness means learning to let go of all the excuses you’ve been making about why you can’t have what you want. I’m not saying that some of those excuses aren’t grounded in fact, what I’m saying is that you have to find a way beyond any excuse you come up with. Only you can take responsibility for getting beyond the obstacles you face, no one else will do it for you.
Final Thought …
Remember, there is great pain to be experienced from not taking responsibility for your life, and great joy to be found from stepping up to the challenge of taking unwavering responsibility for your life. Choose wisely.
Quotes on Taking Responsibility for Your Life and Your Happiness
Books on Taking Responsibility for Your Life and Your Happiness
Excuses Begone! By Dr.Wayne Dyer
The Power of Responsibility by Joelle Casteix
Taking Responsibility by Nathaniel Branden
No Excuses by David Neeman
12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
Personal Responsibility by Alexanader Brown
Be a Man: Take Responsibility by Clark Covey
Realize Your Life by Neil Edwards
You’ll See it When You Believe It, by Dr. Wayne Dyer