Whatever Happened to Personal Responsibility?

During the past couple of decades there has been a shift taking place in a major life area. Yes, this is just my opinion but if you will take a serious look at trends and people’s behavior I am sure you will agree. People today are spending more time blaming than looking in the mirror when it comes to a simple yet vital personal attitude and that is simply, (you and I are responsible for our life’s circumstances and outcomes.)

Yes, there are many situations where you may have not had control;

-Some stupid driver tailgates you and ends up hitting you from behind in an accident.

-Your spouse has an affair.

-You end up with an illness or disease due to heredity.

-Your house is broken into.

-You lose your job because your company goes belly-up.

I could give you hundreds of examples but the real question is here not what is happening to you for whatever reason but how are you reacting, responding or dealing with it i.e. personal responsibility.

If this is true, that we are gradually becoming a society of people who no longer in general are willing to take responsibility for their actions, decisions or circumstances why is this a trend, what are the consequences and what can we do to do or change to correct this destructive behavior?

The why.

There are numerous reasons but I believe they fall into three major groups – Our upbringing, the government and the inability to manage fear and uncertainty in our life.

Early conditioning–Each of us were raised and conditioned in an environment we couldn’t control by parents or caregivers, teachers, religious leaders or anyone who had significant influence over our lives. Most of these people were well meaning but in the end all they could do was pass on to us their beliefs, prejudices, opinions, judgments and the results of their experience and learning. So your parents grew up in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’–think all of their lessons are appropriate today in this century? Sure some of the values, lessons and teaching will always be appropriate like learning discipline, optimism, responsibility or consequences of choices but let me ask you – do you think each of us learned all we needed to from them to survive or prosper in this dynamic and evolving world culture? I doubt it. But here’s the problem – what they taught you – right or wrong – good or bad – valuable or not is deeply embedded in your unconscious and to this day has a significant impact on your attitudes, choices, decisions and behavior. In a sense it’s as if they are sitting on your shoulder each minute of each day saying, “Do this, do that, don’t do this don’t to that, think this, believe that etc.”

Yes, some of this can be valuable to live a full and happy life, but not all of it may be relevant to us and our unique current circumstances in today’s world. If you were taught personal responsibility there’s a very good chance you are succeeding in many areas of your life, but if this was not part of your conditioning influencers mindsets then you have some work to do to begin to see your life and its outcomes and situations as your responsibility and nor theirs or anyone else’s.

The government and society–Without coming across as political although it has been my experience that no matter what your political leaning you will tend to agree or disagree with what you read – not based on what you are reading, but how compatible or consistent it is with your attitudes, opinions or philosophy. Anyway, the government is tending to get bigger and bigger and the reason is simple – their agenda is to give more of us more and more benefits thereby creating a dependence on them for many of these benefits. In the end what they are doing is relieving us gradually of personal responsibility. Yes, there are many people who worked for and earned, deserve or need the government’s help but to the degree that exists today? I’ll let you decide. For me, having travelled the world and spoken to over a million people I can tell you that more and more people are beginning to feel entitled that are not entitled.

Fears and uncertainty–The number one emotion that affects everyone in a negative way is fear – fear of what is happening, fear of what might happen or even the residual effect of fear of something that happened in the past. Without going into an in depth explanation of this – accept that there are only two basic emotions – love and fear and all other emotions are just derivatives of these. In other words – hate, anger, disappointment, jealousy, guilt, resentment etc are all just relatives of fear and joy, happiness, glee, contentment, bliss, cheerfulness etc are all related to love.

The oldest part of the human brain is what is called the reptilian brain and it has been conditioned over the millions of years to react first to threats that create fear reactions of flight, fight or freeze. So is it any wonder that when you lose your job, get a bad health diagnosis, or any other bad news your first reaction is fear? No, as a human you have been conditioned over the hundreds of centuries to make that your first response.

When we can’t successfully manage the causes or contributors to fear, even in the modern world, we automatically do what we have learned to do during our evolution as humans and that is a fear response – again –fight, flight or freeze.

Uncertainty is a major contributor to fear as with it we feel we lack control over our life. When we feel we are losing control of any major aspect of our life, our first response is fear, then panic and then the stress sets in.

The consequences.

The consequences are almost universal when we fail to take control in some way of the circumstances or events that cross our path and that is – stress. Unmanaged stress is the number one contributor to all medical issues that we face from colds to heart attacks. From rashes to strokes. Everything in life is a stressor and the brain doesn’t distinguish between positive or negative stressors – a wedding, a divorce, winning the lottery, bankruptcy, getting a promotion, losing a job or any other positive or negative event or situation. The brain treats all stressors the same – a raised physiological awareness and then response of some kind. In the end, failure to manage your stressors, note I didn’t say control them, will take their consequences on some area of your life.

What do we need to do?

There are many steps you can take to address this issue of personal power and responsibility, but let me share just ten questions and/or approaches that when consistently embraced will go a long way to help you achieve success in these two critical mindsets.

1)Spend time focusing on what really matters to you in life – your goals, purpose, desires, mission and legacy.

2)Think about how your current values, expectations, needs and lifestyle are inconsistent with your answer to the above.

3)How do you spend your time? Is it consistent with number one or number two i.e. do you spend as much time in self-improvement as you do watching television or just doing nothing that will move you forward in a positive way?

4)Who do you spend time with? Is it people who have similar attitudes, mindsets that reinforce your current status or is it with people who can help you achieve your goals or dreams?

5)Do you have someone in your life that holds you accountable? A coach, spouse, friend or someone else?

6)Do you spend regular and routine time in serious self-improvement?

7)Do you have an attitude of entitlement or personal responsibility regardless of where you are in life?

8)Do you feel like a victim – someone who doesn’t deserve your current circumstances? Or empowered no matter where you are or what is going on?

9)Take risks, try something new, throw away the box, stretch and accept both failure and success with the same attitude – what can these teach you?

10)Strengthen your spiritual nature. Learn to trust God and accept what He brings into your life as a way of Him helping you learn what you need to, to move to the higher ground or next level in your life.

I suggest you spend some serious time on the above suggestions and/or questions. With time, effort and patience you can see miraculous positive results if you will just be willing to grow, learn and change.

“Stop blaming the world for your troubles.
The world was here first and owes you nothing.”

Mark Twain

In His Service, Tim

Scroll to Top