I had a friend who made a mistake at work which involved another colleague. She told me she realized she had made a mistake but she would not admit it to anyone because it would make her look weak to the colleague. She was also afraid she would be reprimanded by her supervisor. She never admitted her fault in the matter. A few people who knew my friend and what she had done applauded her for her actions because they believed she didn’t risk her job or look like a fool in front of a co-worker. A couple of weeks ago, I learned that another friend was involved in a similar situation. Instead, he admitted his error and contacted everyone involved to rectify the situation. He was applauded by his supervisor and colleagues for taking responsibility for his actions and learning from his mistakes.
Some people might define this as weakness but someone who accepts responsibility for their behaviors, actions, feelings, beliefs and thoughts is actually a healthy and mature adult. However, most adults who have not learned how to accept responsibility for their behavior behave emotionally and/or mentally like a child. Haven’t you ever been in a situation with someone and thought to yourself, “hmmm, her/his response was so childish or immature.”
We have been taught to fear taking responsibility for ourselves. When we admitted making an error as children, we were met with punishment of some sort. In other words, we learned from our parents, teachers, friends, and society that to receive love and acceptance we had to adhere to certain rules which meant being perfect and we did/do not make mistakes. We were not taught as children that it is okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we mentally, emotionally and spiritually grew up if we were allowed the opportunity to learn from them. Instead, we were judged, abandoned, rejected, ridiculed or abused. The imprint made was a belief that when we make a mistake we will be hurt and this instilled fear in our cellular memory.
Whenever this fear comes up in situations as adults, it brings out the liar in us. It brings out the saboteur or annihilator in us. We will destroy a relationship, a job, an opportunity, etc. even though it doesn’t seem that way at first. At first glance, we believe we are saving ourselves from being hurt but we are actually hurting ourselves in the long run. We will lie, manipulate, cheat, steal, and basically will do whatever it takes to not look like the “bad guy.” We want to be viewed as the “good guy” in order to receive or maintain the love and acceptance our heart’s long for because this is what we were taught.
We will also use projection as a defense to avoid looking inward. In other words, we blame, blame, and blame someone else or something for everything that is not working in our lives in an effort to not accept the responsibility. The other person is the “wrong guy” and I am the “good guy.” But ultimately at the end of the day, we know deep down inside we made a mistake too and by not accepting responsibility for this we are lying to ourselves. We hide the truth by burying feelings such as guilt and shame and thoughts of “I am wrong, bad and undeserving.” And over time these feelings and beliefs will create havoc in our lives. We become immature, childlike and powerless instead of healthy empowered powerful beings.
My friend who didn’t accept responsibility for her actions at work has destroyed some relationships for the same reason and is unhappy with her life. She is hurting other people including herself. The other friend who accepted responsibility for his actions is thriving and living a peaceful life. I thank both of them equally for being my mirrors showing me the things I have or haven’t accepted responsibility in my own life. Being a healthy and mature adult involves understanding that challenges are a part of life. We are perfect even with our perfect imperfections. We make mistakes and mistakes are how we learn what to do and not to do next time if we can allow the space not to judge ourselves for them. And taking responsibility for all of our actions, behaviors, feelings, thoughts and beliefs helps us to live more authentically and compassionately.
Love Yourself! Assignment
Journal about the following:
1. Have you ever blamed someone else for something you did? Or for something that you feel is going wrong in your life today?
2. How did this make you feel when you did it? How does it make you feel today?
3. If you could go back in time what would you do differently? What would it have changed? Now you know what to do next time.
4. Is there a situation now where you find yourself constantly talking about something wrong someone else did? Instead of focusing on them, can you state to yourself what you have done to affect a relationship or situation? Being honest with you here is the key to accepting responsibility then practice forgiveness for you.
If you are having difficulty with the above please do not hesitate to contact me. We can schedule an appointment and I will teach you how to take responsibility for yourself and your life.