Take Responsibility to Improve Your Life
I help many people to address various life challenges, such as anxiety, self-confidence, ill-health and difficult personal relationships. Whilst everyone is an individual with their own personal story and circumstances, there are several common factors that enable people to address their problems.
One of the most important steps for people seeking to improve their lives is to ‘take responsibility’. This can often be easier said than done, but when you accept that the onus is on you, then you can improve your situation and often solve problems completely.
One of the most useful life-mantras I have learnt is: ‘If something is having a negative influence on your life, then it is YOUR problem, regardless of whoever or whatever is causing it.’
We can be an expert in our problems, which seldom helps, or an expert in the solution, which is much more positive. The quicker you ‘take responsibility’, the sooner you move forward with your life.
Sometimes negative things happen to us which are not our fault, such as being made redundant, being bullied or suffering an injury. This often causes people to position themselves as a victim, saying things like, ‘It wasn’t fair’ or, ‘If I complain it will only get worse’ or, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’
Such comments may of course be true, but they don’t actually help us. They just lead to people getting stuck in a negative state. People who are in such situations tend to tell stories to themselves and others; these will be reasons and self-justification about why they are not overcoming problems but, in reality, they are just excuses.
Harsh though that may sound, it is true. There is always something that can be done to help address the situation, even though it may be difficult and painful to do so.
It often takes time to rationalise negative emotions and come to terms with what has happened. For instance, if you lose your job, split up with someone you’ve been in a long-term relationship with or experience the death of a loved one, then it’s natural to grieve. However, if the grieving goes on for too long then it can be very damaging. Once people decide to ‘take responsibility’then a more positive future becomes possible. I’m not saying that the transition is easy, and a number of other factors come into play, such as self-awareness, perseverance and seeking help from others, but it can be achieved with the right mindset.
To ‘take responsibility’we need to do more than just reach a stage of acceptance. We need to develop a strong positive expectation about our future. So, I not only encourage acceptance, but also coach people to think, feel and be more optimistic about how they will live in the future.
That involves using our imagination to best effect, which itself is an important life-skill that we sometimes need help with. I’ll discuss that in more detail in a future article, but a key point to consider for now is that it takes the same amount of energy to think positively as it does to think negatively, so why not use that energy to help rather than hinder our lives?
People who have taken ‘taken responsibility’ tend to move forward with small steps at first, but those steps build self-confidence and belief. You may still get spontaneous negative emotions, but you can then choose to stop and take control.
Lots of small steps build momentum and eventually become a significant journey. Then you realise that your life has become better and, just as importantly, you have learnt a number of new life-skills that will ensure you continue to have a positive future.