Taking responsibility for ourselves is difficult.
We are forced to deal with who we are in a way that isn’t possible when we blame other people for our problems. If we are always pointing the finger at the external world, then we don’t have to look within ourselves as much. This is an easy out—one that we simply cannot afford to keep taking.
It feels good to take responsibility for one’s life. It feels good to accept the profound responsibility of being human because then we are in a position to actually improve the state of the world.
Until we own our sh*t, we will only further contribute to the unconsciousness of society.
What does it mean to be responsible?
I have pondered this for a long time, and I feel as though I have come to a conclusion. Being responsible implies understanding the ways we are biased, distorted, and damaged. Taking responsibility involves acknowledging our shadow side—the darker aspects of our nature. If we have no understanding of the destructive elements of our being, they will unconsciously manifest as we move through the world.
Start by recognizing the numerous ways in which we are wrong, and then go about the process of identifying what those things are specifically. When we do this, we cease to be controlled by these unconscious leanings.
It’s important to understand that all of the most horrible things done throughout human history are things that we ourselves are capable of. If we know that we are capable of doing the worst possible things imaginable, then we will be more keen on keeping these dark impulses under our conscious control.
The Nazis were human; remember that.
I came upon a quote recently that illustrates the state of responsibleness. I hope it helps inspire this necessary sense of ownership and personal responsibility.
As Viktor Frankl, revolutionary psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor, puts it:
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now! It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man’s sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is the past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended. Such a precept confronts him with life’s finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both his life and himself.”
Live like this is our second time around the track. Learn from the mistakes we are about to make as though we had already made them. This gives us a deep sense of foresight and allows us to look at our choices with greater wisdom and objectivity. Approach life as if we already garnered the awareness and wisdom from already living it.
We are entirely responsible for every decision we make. It is like when a child makes a grave mistake. The first time it is rather forgivable, but the second time less so. We shouldn’t forgive ourselves prematurely.
Let’s live like we already know how to live—like we’re not just fumbling idiots drifting from bad habit to bad habit.
If we do not take responsibility for ourselves as individuals, there is no way we can do any good for the collective.
It is easy to envelop ourselves in political ideologies; it alleviates the profound responsibility of being a human being. It seems obvious to me that personal reflection must come before any kind of activism, otherwise, we are in serious danger of losing the values we claim to be fighting for.
When we take responsibility for the existential dilemma of being human, we make ourselves of benefit to the world.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Taia Butler
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren