How to stop blaming and start living
One of the most important elements of treating addictions and depression and taking personal responsibility is developing a positive self-image in sobriety is the willingness to accept responsibility for ourselves. When I was out of control, I was out of control. So, how important is this forgiveness? Just look around at people wasting their lives trying to find places to put blame or pass off guilt. Do you think they aren’t aware of the irresponsibility of their actions? And don’t you know what kind of impact it has on their feelings about themselves?
Doctors tell us fear and depression is common among such people because it is so difficult for them to live with themselves as they don’t understand the need for taking personal responsibility. It is too true that we know what we are, and too sad that many of us will not change. In a sense, my chemical dependency was an advantage because I became willing to change through recovery. I was never happy before sobriety. Now I’m not constantly happy, but I’m aware that I can be. I make the decisions that determine my happiness now, not drugs.
For anyone unwilling to taking personal responsibility, the burden of carrying them around becomes awfully heavy. And what else can be done? If we won’t admit faults and forgive ourselves for them, they get carried around – and they get worse and worse, ever heavier to bear. What effect does this have on self-image? Being high on chemicals gave us good feelings in the short term, but they were false and short-lived. Chemicals did no more than mask pain and numb our feelings. If we are going to stay straight, sobriety has to feel better than being high felt. I loved feeling stoned. In my heart I knew I had to learn to love being straight more, or, quite honestly, I’d use again. My job is to get my best highs straight. And those feelings must come first from me because I’ve learned it’s essential that I get good feelings from myself. This taking personal responsibility stuff must come before anything else in my life will work. There is nothing selfish or grandiose about it. It’s really nothing more than good sound mental and emotional health. When I’m okay with me, I’m okay with the world.
Humans spend a lot of time trying to avoid taking personal responsibility for our actions, our words, and our decisions. These three obligations are what many adults wish would vanish. I propose we examine these oft avoided responsibilities we all have experienced in our lives, and find different ways of dealing with them by grasping them to ourselves as friends instead of as enemies to circumvent.
The phenomena we see almost always, as we start therapy, that we are speaking of is blaming someone or something else for our actions, has been determined to be a defense mechanism. When you displace blame onto something or someone else, you are protecting your sense of who you are, and avoiding facing head-on your own flaws and failings.
It is only when we are totally honest with ourselves, that we can beat this seemingly insidious behavior and start taking personal responsibility. We must look at what we did to cause the speeding ticket, instead of trying to push our responsibility off onto the officer who arrested us. Were we speeding? The police officer would not have bothered to pull you over, had you not been going too fast. In the long run, it is better for your self-esteem and ego to admit your wrongs, and to accept the consequences for your actions. Pushing off onto someone else your responsibility weakens you, and lays you open for ridicule.
It’s a simple truth that all human beings (young and old alike) make mistakes and poor choices. The same goes for when we fail to act when we know we should. There are times when we all look the other way when we know the right thing to do is to take helpful action. So, you should first understand one thing – you’re not the first person (nor will you be the the last) who has fallen short in the personal behavior department from time to time. Taking personal responsibility comes with life experience.
The second component of taking personal responsibility is indirect responsibility. It involves moving beyond yourself and taking action to help people or situations around you that call for assistance. While this component – indirect responsibility – may not rise to the level of personal responsibility, it does reveal something about your character and the type of person you are. Clearly, there are many people who’ll walk right by the person who is down in the street, or down on his luck. However, there are others—thank goodness–who’ll quickly stop and try to help. It’s not hard to determine which of these two actions is the most responsible choice.
Beloved Blame Games
There must be someone, something, or some events to blame for why we behave the way we do. This is true whether our relapse is back into an active addiction, depressive behaviours, self harm or old emotional behaviours…or even if the relapse is back into the unhealthy pattern of our character defects.
Relapse, or a return to old patterns of behaviour, of any kind begins with feelings of discomfort that we look to avoid since the tendency to blame other people, places and things for the quality of our own life is a hallmark feature of our denial, the individual heading for relapse will always find a target to blame.
While the list of possible targets to blame is endless, our romantic partners unfortunately often rake the brunt of our blame and justification. They are our closest ‘victims’ of accountability and the easiest targets for us to pick on. The consequences of blaming others for our own discomfort however, can be enormous. When we set out to blame people, situations, and events for the quality of our own lives, we are merely trying to deaden the painful reality of the costs of our own behavioural choices, past and present. In an effort to lessen the pain of our reality anything and anyone is fair game.
Selecting our partners to blame for how we are feeling or why we intend to misbehaved in the past is really quite easy. We will always find a target somewhere if we are looking for one. Life is full of people who appear to offend us when they have failed to behave the way we have wanted them to. These offenses and the people we associate with them can be stored in our resentment memory banks for quite a long time and are quickly retrieved hen we are looking outside of ourselves for an explanation for why we are disturbed.
Circumstances and events that do not turn out the way we had hoped for or failed to materialize altogether will provide many targets when we are looking for justification for unhappiness in our lives. Unfulfilling careers, dissolved marriages, broken family ties, relapse, trashed dreams, failed career choices, broken relationships, and many other disappointments can all be blamed on other people, circumstances and events when we are looking for a justification for doing something that we know in our hearts is wrong! Intimacy is about honesty, openness and vulnerability. A key ingredient to a lasting romance is found in a decision to allow yourself to turn your critical view of the world inward instead of focusing externally all the time and ‘risk’ taking personal responsibility for your own life and your own decisions so that you are bringing your true self to your partner in open and vulnerable honesty.
At our spiritual retreats we learn our egos are simply Edging God Out or e.g.o. Someone has to stop the cycle of things. Even anger and finger pointing, which perhaps we should have left behind in the playground. Even though there are many, many real things we can certainly be angry for, there is no thing as a justified resentment. Resentments are modern self harm for the 21st century. For more help with taking personal responsibility or joining our spiritual retreats, contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org