We often hear how we all make mistakes; that it is part of learning lessons in life. Yet how often do we continue to blame ourselves for a regrettable decision or worse still blame others?
What is taking responsibility?
Taking responsibility means recognising our role in an undesirable outcome, learning the lesson, and knowing that next time a better decision will be made.
What responsibility is not!
Responsibility is not getting stuck in the blame game. Usually, we blame others when we don’t want to admit that we’ve made a mistake, or we can’t control a situation. Our pride can take over and this can be detrimental to our relationships with those around us. Admitting that we have made a poor decision takes humility and courage.
Unfortunately, and somewhat unfairly, blaming may have been modelled by a parent. What example are you passing on?
Nor is responsibility taking the blame or responsibility for all the undesirable outcomes in life; outcomes that have nothing to do with us.
I’ll be honest, self-blame and the lack of self-forgiveness have been one of the most difficult hurdles for me to overcome. It is difficult for me to not look back with regret on some of my poorer decisions as a partner and as a parent. Mother guilt can be especially crippling. My previous desire for perfection made it easy to start blaming myself for situations that were totally out of my control. For the times it was in my control, I continually remind myself that my intentions were noble and that I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had at the time. As a result, my current decisions have been better informed ones.
How to reframe undesirable outcomes
Okay, so everyone alive has made at least one poor decision. Do we continually blame ourselves or others for something that happened in the past; something that we can’t change? It is much more serving to be thankful for the lessons learnt, for the skills developed while learning to cope with life’s hurdles, and for how better decisions can now be made because of a not so good one in the past.
I know I have developed an amazing amount of determination and resilience because of a less than desirable decision in my past. I can’t not be thankful for those qualities, can I?
Ways to be more responsible
First, make amends for any collateral damage from your words or actions. For example, replace any broken property or apologise from the heart to repair any damaged relationships.
Then discover the lesson to be learned and decide how to do better next time.
Finally, move on quickly so that any guilt is not allowed to linger. Forget and forgive yourself.
If necessary, seek professional help to get out of the self-blame or victim mode.
How to be a good example of a responsible person
For the sake of the other people in the household, model how to take responsibility for your actions instead of blaming.
Teach overall responsibility by delegating tasks that each person can be responsible for. It works best to praise responsible behaviour rather than punish mistakes.
Gently guide any children through the steps of responsibility. Here is a summary that can be put up in the home as a reminder or a reference. Click on the image or button below for it to open in a new tab.