Learning to self-evaluate takes responsibility for one’s growth.
It would be virtually impossible to keep track of how many times we are forced to respond in one day. Although most responses would be categorized as reactionary, our ability to respond – and respond well – is shaped by our life’s’ experiences and the desire to make sound and responsible choices.
Another way of putting it is, “Our response ability is our responsibility.” As simple as that sounds, it may be difficult for some to admit. I say this from personal experiences. There were numerous occasions as a teenager and young adult when I looked and depended on others for guidance. Although I genuinely wanted help with my decision, part of me did not want to accept full accountability for my own actions.
As a child, being obedient was a no-brainer for me. The thought of defying my Mother’s orders was frightening. While there were some occasions of disobedience, I would try to avoid her or hide what I did. It was the same during school. While in no way do I want to imply my record was flawless, I did my best to follow the rules and willingly comply.
Pros and cons
On the positive side, my friends and teachers generally trusted me. Being involved with team sports from a young age, my coaches counted on me to be an example to the other kids and I was very happy to do them proud. Following the rules carefully was also beneficial in furthering my early education.
There was, however, a trap that took years for me to realize how my eagerness to obey, created other harmful traits. I do need to preface prior to the explanation, this “trap” is not a given for every person striving to be obedient.
My enthusiasm for obedience also stopped me from questioning most instructions or directives. I assumed when told something by an adult it was meant for my benefit. The regularity and eagerness to comply with what I was told numbed the ability to reason for myself; well-meaning, experienced, and wise adults were there to do it for me. There was no need to question what I was told nor find a different solution. It was enough simply to listen and obey.
Seeking others’ advice was an obvious choice and I couldn’t understand why my friends had difficulty reaching the same conclusion.
When the situation forced me to make a choice, my mind quickly examined the options, and then I would do my best to think what decision the adults around me would make. It didn’t matter what I thought was correct. If I could deduce the same conclusion they would have reached, I was learning real “wisdom.” When it came to choices directly impacting my future, I willingly conceded to others. In high school, there were plenty of teachers, coaches, and adults who were dedicated to guiding me towards a positive future. Seeking others’ advice was an obvious choice and I couldn’t understand why my friends had difficulty reaching the same conclusion. Whether it was a career path to pursue or matters of a religious nature, I wasn’t confident in my own ability to make a responsible choice.
There is nothing wrong with good counsel but in my case, it became a crutch. Having someone else make those significant choices alleviated much of the pressure accompanying such decisions. Additionally, the way I learned to process shame robbed me of the self-confidence needed to make crucial life choices, adding to the necessity and making it seemingly mandatory to seek counsel from a trusted adult. If it didn’t work out, there was no onus on my part; I was simply being obedient.
This kind of thinking haunted me into adulthood. When I finally accepted this was a part of my thinking process, steps could then be made to correct it. The most difficult part of this realization is acknowledging the irresponsibility and the disappointment in my own behavior. However, that is also what responsibility is: taking full accountability for your actions and not looking to blame anyone else.
Just as there were pros and cons of obedience, the same is true for responsibility. Of course, it hurts seeing all the mistakes, but it is also incredibly freeing knowing you can take control and formulate your future decisions. It doesn’t make the decision process any easier, but acknowledging it is yours compels you to work at it harder.
Becoming aware of personal responsibility engages you to demand more from yourself and not seek to accuse others diminishing personal culpability. Being responsible necessitates action and constant self-assessment, while at the same time, inspiring ingenuity and a willingness to work with others. Reliable people aren’t so worried about recognition as much as they’re concerned with building a dependable reputation.
Becoming responsible resists selfish and greedy actions while inviting honorable behaviors like integrity and honesty, inspiring kindness, and good intentions towards others. At times, others may disagree with what we know are responsible choices, but they are never made to purposely damage others.
Responsibility leads to building good character in those willing to be accountable for their own choices and actions. They are not afraid to seek wise counsel and will take full liability for their decisions.
If they do make a wrong choice, the mistake is admitted and becomes a lesson learned. They don’t create smoke screens to hide or shift blame and are open to criticism because of a deep desire to learn to be more effective and valuable – inspiring others to increase their own sense of responsibility.
The best way to elevate your ability to respond comes with practicing self-awareness. Once it becomes a part of your character, it’s a process you’ll want to continue for the rest of your life.