Tag Archives: personal responsibility

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.

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“Fair play is primarily not blaming others
for anything that is wrong with us.”
Eric Hoffer

As recovering people we strive to accept responsibility for our lives. It doesn’t matter whether we inherited our addictions, learned them by example, or became addicted through no fault of our own (which applies to a great many addicts these days). These may be productive things to ponder in therapy or while working on a fourth step, but they don’t relieve us of our responsibility to make our own changes.

In nearly every case, blaming is an attempt to avoid responsibility. Most of the time it’s just another kind of denial that we have to move past in order to get our heads on straight. Judicious blaming is justified only if we have done our very best and then someone comes along and botches the job. Even then it is often better to keep our mouths shut and learn from the experience rather than spending our time and our peace of mind figuring out how to shovel the responsibility onto someone else. After all, was there really nothing we could have done?

Neither does it make sense to blame ourselves. It happened. To repeat a trite but nonetheless totally accurate observation, What is, is. How can we now repair the damage to the best of our ability? Wallowing in the mire of self-blame wastes energy and only gets us a big load of mud to carry out the other side.

Acceptance of the facts and searching for healing solutions is ALWAYS better. If I break my leg and sue, I still have to heal from the inside regardless of what a jury may decide. The blame is immaterial when it comes to walking again.

It’s hard to continue the journey if we have to use a crutch.

A Little Exercise 

Personal responsibility is the foundation of the 12 Steps. In what way does each Step foster the development of our personal responsibility? 

(Feel free to list your ideas in the comments if you want to share them.)