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Self Responsibility

What is responsibility? In the context of self development, responsibility, also known as self responsibility, is the acknowledgment that you, through your thinking, feeling and behaving, are in control of how you experience life. For many people, becoming truly responsible requires changing core beliefs.

What Is Responsibility? Steve Covey’s Perspective

In his book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey’s first habit, being proactive is all about taking responsibility. He advises the following (this is one of my favorite responsibility quotes):

“Look at the word responsibility – “response-ability” – the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”

What Is Responsibility To Most People?

It’s A Dirty Word.

We mistakenly associate responsibility with burden, obligation and duty. We think it impinges on our freedoms. And we worry that if we don’t fulfill our responsibilities, we’ll feel guilty. That’s why we mistakenly associate freedom with shunning commitment and obligation. We think responsibility means a boring and lackluster existence. The truth is quite the opposite. Disciple and fulfilling the responsibilities we set for ourselves is the doorway to true freedom.

What Is Your Responsibility? It’s First And Foremost Doing Right By Yourself

We all have an inner voice that whispers the way. We each have passions, even if they’re buried beneath anxiety, depression, confusion and fatigue. It is your first responsibility in life to listen to this whisper. No matter how off course you are, it’s always the right time to get back on your path. For many of us this can mean making massive changes. But it’s always worth it. Even if in the beginning you can’t possibly see how you will do it.

When you listen to your inner voice, you finally acknowledge that your experience is within your control. You start making decisions rather than blaming others, you find yourself solving problems rather than disengaging and merely coping. And you start going after what you really want in life.

What Is Responsibility In Relation To Success?

Co-author of the Chicken Soup For The Soul series, Jack Canfield is another proponent of self responsibility. In his book, The Success Principles, Jack has this to say:

“It is time to stop looking outside yourself for the answers to why you haven’t created the life and results you want, for it is you who creates the quality of the life you lead and the results you produce. You – no one else! To achieve major success in life – to achieve those things that are most important to you -you must assume 100% responsibility for your life. Nothing less will do.”

In every moment, we are building our futures. And as Jack suggests, we have incredible control of what is being shaped for tomorrow. His formula is very simple:

The Event + Our Response = The Outcome

Many eastern philosophies tell us that the event itself contains no intrinsic meaning. We add the meaning with our response. And this is the wild card to what outcomes we manifest.

Responsibility Exercise

Think about one area in your life where you would like things to be different.

On a scale of 1-10, how responsible are you being in this area of your life? Now, how would you behave differently to move your level of responsibility up by just one point on the scale?

If you can put the actions into play that will move you up just one notch on your responsibility scale, you will be surprised by what an impact they will have on this area of your life

What Is Responsibility? It’s Giving Up Blame

How many times have you had a conversation about how your parents did you wrong? “I’m hopeless in relationships because my dad was depressive when I was a kid” or “I would love to get a better job but my parents never pushed me in school so I never got the grades”. We do this in all aspects of our lives; “my husband is a private person so I don’t have much of a social life”; “I would love to get into the work-study program but my boss doesn’t think much of me”. In all of these examples, we relinquish our responsibility to create the lives we dream of because we wrongly perceive there to be permanent road blocks in the shape of the people around us.

If you think “well, my case is different. I’ve had/got a very difficult situation”, think again. It’s the trap of progress to think your situation is particularly bad. I promise you; there are millions of people who have it or have had it worse than you. Thinking your situation is the worst is a way you continue to avoid self responsibility.

What Is Responsibility? It’s Changing Core Beliefs

Part of being responsible for yourself is changing core beliefs that aren’t benefiting you. One belief is that you are somehow not good enough. It’s an incredibly prevalent thought that plagues so many people. Have you ever noticed that the better you get to know someone, the more they’ll open up about how they hold themselves in low regard? It’s a trick of the mind we’re all prone to use. And it thwarts your happiness. It keeps you small.

Next, you must also take an honest look at your relationship with your parents. What most people don’t acknowledge is that their parents love or loved them more than life itself. So many of us walk around truly convinced that our fathers tried to make our lives difficult or that our mothers purposely instilled fear in us. This is not true. What our parents did was their absolute best. But they are just like every other human being; learning as they go. If you continually blame your parents for how your life has turned out, you’re relinquishing control once again. You’re refusing to see that in every situation, you choose your response.

Perhaps as a child, the response you chose was not a productive one (for ex, my parents don’t love me). As an adult though, you can surely see that you made this up! Your father may have been angry often and your mother may have been a workaholic. But they did these things to cope with the difficulties of life. They did love you. If you think they didn’t, this is your interpretation only. It is not the truth.

You must also start to look at the circumstances of your life and acknowledge the role you have played in making them real.

If you’re in a job you don’t like, acknowledge that it’s a choice you make everyday to stay in that job. Perhaps your marriage is no longer fulfilling. Again, ask yourself what you’re contributing here. It always takes two to tango and there are many ways you are adding fuel to the fire of unhappiness between you and your partner, whether or not you’re aware of it.

What Is Responsibility? It’s The Key To Freedom

Self responsibility is unquestioningly challenging at times. But it’s worth it! If you can let go of foolish thoughts and work at changing core beliefs, you will free yourself to create the life you dream of.


I subscribe to the age-old philosophy that first you have to BE before you can DO and HAVE what you want. I created this site to give readers practical and motivational success tips! In every post you will find simple success principles that will cause you to succeed.

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