Lessons for Living       
Lesson Eighteen: "Being Response-Able"


"Do you know who causes most of your trouble?"




Welcome to Lessons for Living.

This weeks lesson is on, "Responsibility."

There is a good chance that I know the person who causes most of your trouble. You probably know as well. Most likely, it is you. You are responsible for the choices and actions that have put you in your present circumstances. Whether you like it or not you are responsible, and this is good news. It is good news because you can change the things for which you are responsible.

However, there is the fundamental problem. The problem is that its human nature is to try and avoid responsibility by passing it to someone else. We pass the responsibility through blame. We say, "It’s not my fault, he made me do it." Or, "If my mother had treated me better I wouldn’t be this way." It may be as simple as dropping and breaking a coffee cup. If asked what happened we say, "It slipped." Not, "I dropped it." It slipped means that the cup is responsible for its own falling. We don’t just admit we did it. We pass the blame. We try to get out of responsibility.

This avoiding of responsibility has a long history. It even goes back to Adam and Eve. After forbidding that the apple be eaten, God was suspicious and asked Adam if he had tasted of the fruit. What did Adam do? He blamed Eve for giving it to him. When God asked Eve about this what did she do? She blamed the Snake for deceiving her. Had the Snake been asked the blame would surely have been passed again.

This story suggests that from the beginning people have had difficulty in taking responsibility for their actions. It shows how reluctant we are to acknowledge our mistakes and say, "Yes I did it. I’m responsible." The problem that arises from this reluctance is that if you don’t like what is happening in your life but are not responsible for it then you can’t change it. If you are not responsible then you have no control or influence. If you are not responsible then someone else must be. You are a victim and others are in control of your life. If you are to get better then they must change. This is not a good life plan. It is a better life strategy for you to claim your responsibility and change the situation yourself. Don’t wait on others to change. If you can name and claim your problem then you can change it. Naming and claiming your responsibility gives you control.

To be responsible is to be "response-able." "Able" to make a response. "Able" to do something. Responsibility leads to action. When you accept responsibility then you are in charge. You can change your thinking and attitude and plan a course of action. You can change your behavior. You can accept and deal with your emotions. You can claim your power and make a difference because you are willing to say, "I am responsible." Learn to claim and exercise your responsibility and life will improve.

2000 Daniel H. Johnston. All Rights Reserved.

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