Personal Responsibility

“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept
the consequences of every deed, word and thought throughout our lifetime.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004)


Anyone who sits through a few meetings will hear someone blaming their addiction (or other people) for their behavior. “My addict did this,” or “It was just my addict talking,” or “If it weren’t for my addiction, I….” or “If she hadn’t…” or “If they didn’t…” (insert appropriate whine).

Our attitudes are often the same regarding those whose social behavior fails to meet our standards. Perhaps we believe they have mistreated us or a loved one. Perhaps we believe they should know better, based on our underestanding of our reality. And do we get pissed off when they fail to apologize or make restitution in some way? Of course we do! We demand that they accept the responsibility for their actions (judged by our standards, mind you), and that they try to make things right.

If a drunk driver runs over our favorite aunt, we don’t say, “Oh, it was her addiction — his pathology.” Hell no! We want the irresponsible s.o.b. prosecuted and punished.

But, gentle people, do we apply the same standards to ourselves? Do we live the 9th and 10th Steps, or do we simply “work” them and go on behaving the same old way? If we are not involved in a 12-step program, do we apply the standards we expect of everyone else to ourselves anyway? Do we remember that regardless of what stimuli or influence may have led to a particular act or statement, it was nonetheless our behavior, and that we need to take responsibility for it and try to do the next right thing?

I’ve been thinking about that as it applies to me, and I don’t like all the answers I get. We might all want to consider it a bit more carefully.

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