Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Post Estrangement - Reflections on Responsibility; a Choice

Responsibility is a challenging concept.  

I am not talking about the everyday kind of responsibility like going to work to earn a living, cleaning the house, doing the yard work or providing a home for your family That kind of responsibility is the easy part.

I am talking about being responsible for the actions we take, the choices we make in the face of less than perfect circumstances.

Often I find people shirk responsibility.  So many times I hear phrases like:

 “it is not my fault because….” 

This is then followed by a litany of all kinds of excuses why they did or did not do something.

So many people blame their past, their parents, their circumstances etc. for anything that is wrong in their lives.  It is never about themselves and what they ought to be taking responsibility for. There is always an excuse why they can’t.

Similarly so many people do something bad to another person or speak badly about another person but they don’t OWN that they did something bad instead they say: 

“he deserved it because…”   or   “she made me do it because…”

There is a lot of blaming going on in society today. 

  • “I am unhappy because my parents screwed me up.” 
  • “I am dissatisfied because my boss is horrible”  
  • “I can’t be a better person because of what happened to me in the past”.

All these excuses stack up to a lot of non-accountability or non-responsibility for actions taken. 

The irony is that we are responsible!  

Every action that we chose to take is our responsibility. 
Whether we treat others well or not is a choice and ultimately we make that choice. 

Whether we speak the truth or say what others want to hear is a choice. Sometimes speaking the truth has negative consequences!

When we listen to someone's story we can't help but hear the lies they are telling us to make themselves appear good but we can choose whether of not to believe the lies and how we act after hearing the lies is a choice.  This is why gossip is such an evil because if furthers the spreading of lies.  The choice is to gossip and further spread the lies or not.

Yes, things happen to us, good things and bad things.  However it is a choice how we decide to act after those events. 

We can chose to act negatively because we perceive we have been wrongfully treated.  


We can accept that we have been treated wrongfully and then go out and do good or right in spite of the wrong that we experienced.  

That is the kind of responsibility that I am thinking about!

This is taking responsibility for the choice of our actions. 
No blame placed upon the past actions of others or past events; just taking full responsibility for your own actions in response to your experiences.

  • It takes great integrity to make the choice to act well in spite of bad experiences. 
  • It is hard to hold back on vindictive actions in response to injustices. 
  • It is challenging to see the error of other people’s ways and not blame them for your failings. 

Responsibility is not something that just happens; it is something you decide to own.  You can choose to be accountable or you can choose to excuse your behaviour

As you look to your future what path will you follow?  

Ultimately the choice is yours and ultimately you will be responsible for the choices that you make, regardless of which choice you choose.

I have created for myself a personalized prayer for accountability. I challenge myself to live by these rules. 

When it comes to the people in my life I now can clearly define people by the choices they make.  Their choices tell me what kind of people they are.  

If they blame me for their actions I can now see clearly that they are deflecting so they do not have to be accountable for their own actions.  

When they tell lies about me or gossip about me I know they are trying to excuse their actions which deep down they know are inexcusable.

When they are unwilling to forgive me, I know that deep down they feel that they are unforgivable.

This kind of knowledge is very powerful and now I find I have a great responsibility to choose with care how I choose to act with this knowing.

It is so easy to be angry and allow the hurt to cause me to respond with vengeance.  It is harder to see them with compassion, as people with a character defect, a mental illness or a personality problem and to offer them the open door of forgiveness.

I struggle with this daily.  I know the right path, I choose the right path, but it is not easy.   But then who ever said that choosing the right path would be easy.  That is the nature of responsibility.

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2014 - 12 - 03 
updated and revised 2015 - 09 - 09 

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