Why you should take responsibility for your own actions

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Kevin Mangelschots

We can all probably remember an instance where we placed the blame on somebody else or society, while we should’ve taken control for our own actions.

When we reflect upon our behavior at a later time, we often realize that it was ourselves who was to blame.

However, if placing the blame on other people is not the way to go, then that means there must be another, more productive road to success and self-improvement. Let’s explore why you should take responsibility for your own actions.

Why you should take accountability for your actions

The word “why?” written with white chalk on a blackboard.

  • Tell the truth to yourself

    We’ve already established why it’s important to tell the truth to yourself and others. This is closely correlated with the topic of today.

    As the first step towards taking responsibility for your own actions is telling the truth to yourself. In other words: YOU are responsible for your life and nobody else is. Nor should you expect someone else to be responsible for your actions.

    This means that it’s up to you if you want to change or improve something. This is not possible if you keep deluding yourself by telling yourself that other people are the ones to blame if something goes wrong.

  • Avoiding responsibility makes you weak and anxious

     

    A startled young woman.

    Furthermore, can you honestly sleep at night with a clear conscience when you know that you are lying to yourself or others?

    Deceiving yourself is basically what you’re doing when you’re intentionally avoiding taking your personal responsibility. Lying and avoiding accountability for your behavior are rather weak.

    Taking responsibility and being honest are also much easier on your conscience and memory, since you don’t need to remember your own lies that you would have to if you deceive yourself and others.

  • Taking responsibility makes you a strong and morally decent person

     

    The quote, “it's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are” by Roy E. Disney.

    The power of taking responsibility lies in the fact that it teaches you to be a morally decent and strong human being.

    This sets you up for future successes. After a while of taking responsibility into your own hands, it becomes a habit. And a great one at that. This teaches you vital skills which you will need in the future. Perhaps most importantly is that it teaches you to think critically and independent of other people.

    This way, you can survive on your own and think of logical, well-thought-out plans yourself for whatever hurdle life throws in your path.

  • Ultimately, you are alone

     

    Image of multiple pawns standing together with one pawn standing separated alone.

    We all come into this world alone, and we all die alone in the end.

    I’m not saying you can’t have meaningful relationships with family and friends, but there’s only one person who knows you the best and can always rely on, even in hard times. It’s you.

    Very few people actually want the best for you. At best, most are indifferent. At worst, they don’t want you to do better than themselves because it would hurt their fragile ego.

    Take the necessary responsibility and grow as a person so that you are strong enough to handle whatever obstacles life throws at you. Remember that it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. What matters is how many times you rise and stand back up again.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does responsibility mean?

Image of an e-reader with the word “responsibility” on the screen.

Responsibility can be defined as doing what we are supposed to do. This means that obligation is connected to our ethical and moral obligations in society.

It means accepting both the positive and negative consequences that come along with this authority and responsibility.

Different kinds of responsibility

  • Social responsibility

    Image of two people shaking hands at a work meeting.

    Social responsibility is an ethical theory in which each individual is accountable for fulfilling their civic duty. The goal of the actions of each individual is to benefit society as a whole.

    By doing so, there must be struck a balance between the welfare of society, the environment, and last but not least, economic growth.

    If this balance is acquired and maintained, then we can consider our social responsibility fulfilled.

  • Moral responsibility

    Moral responsibility is an ethical theory in which each individual is considered deserving of rewards, punishment, blame, and praise in accordance with one’s moral obligations.

    If the individual’s moral responsibility is fulfilled, then rewards and praise are at hand. But if the moral responsibilities are not fulfilled, then blame and punishment is at hand.

  • Fiscal responsibility

    One kind of responsibility that most folks don’t like is fiscal responsibility.

    This implies that each individual should pay an appropriate amount of tax.

    The government pursues the appropriate amount of government spending to ensure fiscal policy aids, maintain the appropriate amount of public investment and to maintain sustainable public finances.

  • Financial responsibility

    Financial responsibility refers to the process of managing money and other similar material assets in such a way that it’s considered productive and in the best interest of the individual, family, or company.

  • Collective responsibility

    Collective responsibility means the responsibilities of society, groups, and organizations as a whole

    This can only be achieved if each individual of the collective group takes his/her individual responsibility.

  • Individual responsibility

    Individual responsibility refers to the responsibility that each individual has in society.

    Everything starts with individual responsibility.

    Without taking accountability for our own individual actions, no higher virtue or collective responsibility can be achieved.

Why is it so hard to take responsibility for your own actions?

Image of a stop sign reading “hard work.”

  • It’s easier not taking responsibility

    It’s no wonder people avoid responsibility, partially or entirely.

    Likewise, it is hard to accept responsibility for your life. It means you are the one held accountable when something goes wrong. Even more, sometimes you’ll get punished if you dare to take responsibility.

    Let’s use a hypothetical example of not taking responsibility for your actions at work.

    You broke a rule at work or own up to a mistake, and you get blamed and scolded for this.

    Failing can sometimes cause us to lose confidence in ourselves, and we sometimes try to avoid this by not taking any or the necessary responsibility.

    But refusing to take responsibility will bury us deeper and deeper in the long term. Because it gets increasingly more difficult to take responsibility the longer we wait to start doing it.

    This creates a vicious circle of avoiding responsibility.

  • Sometimes you get ‘rewarded’ for not taking responsibility

    Not taking responsibility for your actions and even avoiding responsibility can often put the blame on another person. Thus, effectively avoiding the punishment.

    People see this as a reward because the lying gets them out of trouble.

    Of course, this isn’t a viable long term solution because people will catch on to your scummy tactics and will start to avoid you, or put the blame on you instead.

What can happen if you don’t take responsibility for your actions?

There’s a multitude of things that can happen if you don’t take responsibility for your actions.

Putting the blame on other people instead of taking accountability for our own actions is what we call victim mentality.

This is a form of cognitive bias which is neither helpful and can be very destructive. It hampers our growth as human beings.

Of course, there are times when someone else is partially to blame, but ultimately you are the one who is responsible for your own life. You can’t control other people, but you are in control of your own life.

Furthermore, not taking ownership for your actions means you’ll lose power over your life. Because if you are not the person who’s controlling your life, then it means that other people are in control. And if you want to change your life and live it the way you want to, it’s best to be in control yourself.

Final note

“Take action” written with white chalk on a blackboard.

There are arguments to be made for both sides of the same coin. In the end, I think the advantages are still heavily in favor for taking responsibility for your own actions rather than blaming someone else.

That’s not to say that this will be easy. It might not even be beneficial as a short term strategy. But in the long term, it will pay off.

It’s better to learn to own your acts sooner rather than later if you are looking to become a person of value who other people and yourself included can rely on.

You are in charge of a lot of the good and bad things that happen in your life. So don’t forget to hold yourself accountable!

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