When you hear the word ‘responsibility’, do you associate it with a burden to carry or the opportunity to feel free?

When things don’t go to plan, we often look for someone to blame, turning ourselves into victims who are resentful and powerless. When you choose to blame, you choose to burden.

But when we take responsibility for the way that our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours have contributed to a situation, it puts us back in the driver’s seat and gives us the power and freedom to respond differently. If you accept the saying, ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me!’, there’s very little you can’t achieve.

  • Blame burdens us with disempowerment and loss of freedom.
  • Responsibility frees us with power and choices.

Taking responsibility simply requires us to ask: ‘What have I done to cause or affect this? What can I do now to improve the situation?’

Consider Lesley, a finance broker who, at the age of fifty-five, lost money in share investments. He was angry. He felt cheated. A large proportion of his life savings was gone and he blamed his financial advisor for giving him bad advice. He was becoming very bitter over the whole ordeal, which was holding him back from setting new financial goals for his retirement. But he’d agreed to make the investment, which was a gamble, and he needed to take responsibility for his choices.

As well as being disempowering, to blame is to dwell and hence a waste of time. And blaming yourself is just as damaging as blaming others. Instead, try to think of it as taking responsibility for the things you are responsible for, and letting go of the rest. Once you are ready to do this, you can forgive yourself or others for mistakes and move on.

Are you ready to work through some real life problems? Think about some times in the past when you may have felt like blaming someone, or had trouble moving on. Write them down in the table below and work through the three steps.

(Extract taken from The Life Plan, by Shannah Kennedy. Head over to bookdepository.com to order your copy or get in touch with Shannah here to find out about executive coaching options.)