Blame and Responsibility

I am responsible for everything that happens in my life.

Every. Single. Thing.

This is a realisation I’ve come to with the help of my new favourite book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ by Mark Manson. It is a very important realisation to my journey, so I decided it warrants a whole blog post.

When I first read the line “we, individually, are responsible for everything that happens to us” I immediately felt defensive. Excuuuuse me Mr Manson, but I am not responsible for my illness. Nuh uh. No way. This is not my responsibility. I did not ask for it. It is not my responsibility.

I assume this is where Mr Manson would jump in and say “Don’t interrupt me – keep reading kid.”

“We do not always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.”

I stopped reading and thought about it. He was right. Not only was he right, he had just given me a whole new perspective on my situation.

Blame and responsibility are two very different things. We will no doubt experience a thousand things in life that we aren’t to blame for but ultimately we are responsible for. I am not to blame for my illness, but I sure as hell am responsible for it. It is up to me how I choose to view my illness, how I cope with it and how I let it dictate my life. This realisation is huge for me. I am responsible for the way I handle my illness. It is not the responsibility of the universe or my doctors or anyone else for that matter. It’s all on me, and I’m okay with that.

I feel empowered by this because I am in control. Part of my frustration with my illness is that I have lost control over my body and I assumed this meant I’d lost control of everything. The truth is I have control over how I let this impact my life and that is a huge amount of control.

This is something you can literally apply to everything in your life. For example, you may be having financial problems. While you may not be to blame for these problems, you are responsible. It is your choice to take up that extra over-time or a second job to get your money troubles in check. It’s your choice to stop buying expensive things or sell the car that sits in your garage and collects dust. Your problems are your responsibility. You cannot just ignore them and hope they will magically go away because “it’s not your fault” – you need to start taking responsibility and start to control them before they control you.

Blame is toxic. We waste our time blaming others for our problems when in reality – the people we blame aren’t responsible for fixing our problems. Say you have relationship struggles – maybe your partner cheats on you. While, yes they are an asshole for doing it and they are to blame– they are not responsible for the problem it creates for you. It is your choice how you let it affect you and what you do about it. Do you forgive them or move on? That is your responsibility. Say you choose to forgive but you can’t help but be mad at the other person even months after. You can’t continue to blame them for your anger because it is your responsibility to deal with it.

Think of all the problems you have that you hold other people (or the universe) accountable for, chances are you haven’t taken responsibility for them. I can waste all the time in the world blaming the universe for making me sick or blaming my doctors for not finding me answers but at the end of the day it’s my responsibility to interpret and react to these things. Blaming others is not going to make my life any easier or make me any better. I can choose to hold onto that anger or choose to view this as a positively life changing experience. Ultimately, it is up to me.

Anger is a natural human emotion and it is okay to feel angry about the things going wrong in our lives. Where we really go wrong is when we tell ourselves it isn’t our responsibility to take action because we were let down by something/someone else. It is always our choice.

While I am not to blame for my illness, I sure as hell am responsible for it. We are responsible for everything that happens to us. Once you accept this, you take control and that is completely liberating.

So, thank you Mark Manson for this amazing insight. For those of you who haven’t read his book – do yourself a favour and read it.

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