Responsibility or Blame?

I believe we each need to take personal responsibility for our lives, and this often becomes a topic in sessions.

Some people get it pretty early and become active in confronting their issues – acknowledging and accepting the reality of what is in their lives. They move on to feel better relatively quickly.

Others take a little longer, and I can usually tell if that is going to be the case during the first session. How? They are more comfortable with “blame” than with “responsibility”. They blame others for their problems, or they blame themselves and continually beat themselves up emotionally, staying caught up in the intellectual violence of their story. This keeps them entrenched in the problem, and unless they get out of that, the problem wins – nothing changes.

Blame is defined as “the action of assigning responsibility for a fault”. The use of the word “fault” implies the negativity of blaming, whether it be the blaming of someone else or of the Self.

Responsibility is “the state of being accountable for something; the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization”. Another definition given: “a moral obligation to behave correctly toward or in respect of . . .”

Responsibility starts with the willingness to experience your Self as the cause. Responsibility is not a burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. As implied in the above definition of blame, all of these include judgments and evaluations of good and bad, right and wrong or better and worse. They are not responsibility.

Responsibility also starts with the ability to deal with a situation from the point of view, whether conscious or not, that you are the source of what you are, what you do, and what you have. This point of view can even extend to include what is done to you – from the perspective that we put ourselves into situations or around people that will take advantage of us – or around others who will respect and honor us. I understand that this can be viewed as a controversial topic, and won’t go too far into this aspect of it. Certainly I’m not saying that victims of abuse (for example) are responsible for their own abuse and the perpetrator has no responsibility. What I am saying is that we develop patterns from early childhood that draw us to specific situations and people that can eventually be unhealthy for us. In order to break these patterns, we must recognize this and work to understand what within us needs to change.

So again, responsibility is a context of seeing my Self as the source of my attitude, feelings, behavior and life. If I am the source, then I have at least some control over how these turn out. I cannot be responsible for others, but I can be responsible for who I am and for my response to others.