Bob’s good friend and mentor, Val Van De Wall wrote, “When a person takes responsibility for their life and the results they are obtaining, they will cease to blame others as the cause of their results. Since you cannot change other people, blame is inappropriate. Blaming others causes a person to remain bound in a prison of their own making. When you take responsibility, blame is eliminated and you are free to grow.”
Those who haven’t taken responsibility for their results and their life often find themselves in a mental prison, and in many ways, a mental prison is a much worse place to live than a federal prison or penitentiary. Mental torment can destroy just about everything that is necessary for a meaningful life: self image, self respect, relationships and a host of other attributes. It will even cause a person’s physical health to deteriorate.
Responsibility opens the door and permits you to walk into freedom. If you find yourself confined to such a mental state, under-stand there is a way out. Escape is encouraged and possible. The master key that fits the lock is clearly marked and is within everyone’s reach. It is responsibility.
It would be a fair comment to say that the people we have the greatest respect for are those who have accepted responsibility for every aspect of their lives. These individuals rarely duck responsibility by blaming someone else. When faced with an unfavorable situation, they are usually aware they have attracted the negative circumstance and know everything happens for a reason. When this happens, they merely learn their lesson and keep reaching out, above and beyond to the new frontier, taking responsibility for whatever happens, every step of the way.
When a person refuses to accept responsibility for their life, they reject their uniqueness and they turn all of their power over to other people, situations or circumstances. They are then no longer in control of their future. They will be hoping something good will happen, but because of past experiences they will very likely be expecting something they do not want to happen. When you accept responsibility for your life and for the results which you alone determine, you will develop confidence that your dreams can be realized, that your plans can be carried out. Awareness of this magnificent truth is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest thing that can happen in your life. It’s Alladin’s lamp, a magic wand, the tooth fairy all wrapped up in one.
There is a single mental move Dr. Rollo May, a distinguished psychiatrist, once wrote, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” It requires great courage to take responsibility for your life. It’s so much easier to blame someone else or some-thing outside of you. George Bernard Shaw said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.” Shaw was right — those who win big in life take responsibility and create their own destiny.
Earlier on it was suggested that responsibility brings with it a certain amount of freedom. For some, these last few para-graphs may be life-altering. With the proper understanding, it has the power to free you of unnecessary mental weight that you may have been carrying around with you all of your life, guaranteed. This concept has been misunderstood by so many and has probably single-handedly ruined more lives than one can possibly imagine. Ignorance of this principle will most certainly cause a person to experience the destructive emotions of anger, guilt and resentment. Here it is: there is a vast difference between being responsible “for” and being responsible “to.” It seems so simple, but don’t let its apparent simplicity fool you. There IS a big difference between being responsible “for” and being responsible “to.”
It’s not uncommon to hear parents blame themselves and assume responsibility for something that has happened to their child, and that child might be 40 years old! “If only we …” Or, “I should have …”
Far too often we inappropriately assume responsibility for something, when in fact our real duty to the person may have ended 20 years ago. Unfortunately for most, they carry that baggage around with them for life, never realizing they have a choice.
The correct interpretation of this is: you are responsible FOR your feelings and your results—not another person’s. You may be responsible TO another per-son for one thing or another, but not FOR another person. The exception, of course, is when you choose to take on the responsibility of raising children until they reach the age of maturity. In that case, you are both responsible TO and FOR them, until such time as they become responsible for themselves.
At times, it might even be appealing to contemplate having another person take on our responsibilities for us. We could even trick ourselves into believing that by doing this, we would be more free to play, have fun and do the things we wanted. Without serious thought, it might never enter our mind that exactly the opposite would happen. When you permit others to take on your responsibilities, you become dependent on them. They become the giver and you become the receiver. Your well-being is dependent upon their generosity. Hopefully, at some point, it will become very clear that this kind of behavior only leads to a life of lack, limitation, resentment and confusion on the parts of both the giver and the receiver.
Nothing positive comes from the misuse of responsibility. When you take on the responsibility for another person’s feelings, results, or actions, you destroy their self-reliance and self-respect.
You are responsible for all of the results in your life. You are responsible for your happiness. You are responsible for your health. You are responsible for your wealth. You are responsible for your emotional state. Regardless of what has happened in the past, the future lies ahead with an open slate, waiting for you to take control and create a wonderful life for yourself.
Winston Churchill, who certainly knew something about responsibility, said, “Responsibility is the price of greatness.”
Here’s a marvellous affirmation that you can verbalize every night before you go to sleep and every morning as you step out of bed.
I am responsible for my life … for my feelings …
for my personal growth … and for every result I get.