Personal Responsibility for Our Lives

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When soaking in the vastness of the surrounding big, magnificent world, we feel insignificant, like a seemingly meaningless cog in a giant wheel. Corporations, economies, and governments operate independent of our action; we’re forced to play along. The realness of an immense universe sends us crawling back into the comfort of distorted views of importance. At the point of complete emasculation, our mind returns to a smaller universe, the world we live in—the people we contact and the environments we control. Here we are empowered, free to make choices and improve futures. We have personal responsibility to improve our lives.

Freedom and Constraints

Our lives flow between two shores—the freedom of choice and the restriction of givens. We achieve our greatest potential when we accurately differentiate between those things we control and those we don’t. When we concentrate effort to change elements within our charge, we gain confidence and express true freedom. When we fight the givens, kicking against the thorns of our difficult existence, we bow helplessly before fate, quickly succumbing to our tiny existence in the enormous world that spins regardless of our beliefs, hopes, or actions.

“To be your own person clearly requires independence of thought, feeling, and action. This means that you can and do think, feel, and act without excessively relying on others to give you direction.” 

~Elliot D. Cohen Ph.D.


Externalizing problems greatly impacts our ability to grow. Carl Rogers suggests that dysfunctional clients start therapy with a general inability to take responsibility. He states that in the early stages they perceive problems as external to themselves. They possess “no sense of personal responsibility in problems” (2012, Kindle location 2,220).

Daniel G. Amen, MD. strongly teaches that “whenever you blame something or someone else for the problems in your life you become powerless to change anything.” Amen continues, “the ‘blame game’ hurts your sense of personal power. Stay away from blaming thoughts. You have to take personal responsibility for your problems before you can hope to change them” (2015).

Peace Comes From Taking Personal responsibility

Tranquility requires facing uncontrolled adversity, withstanding the misfortune, and then acting with intention, redirecting our lives towards desired futures. We must be courageous, experiencing setbacks but continuing forward, reevaluating needs, and recalculating the course. However, we must move the pieces within the preset rules of the game.

We have choices of where we live, who we associate with, and how we spend our money. These are our personal responsibility. We must make these choices wisely. Each of these choices can widen or restrict the flow of opportunity downstream. A prolonged stretch of crummy choices constrains opportunities, severely limiting escape routes. These choices often are small imperceptible beginnings that bloom into full blown disasters.

​Small budgeting deficits, increase debt, increase anxiety, and progress into missed payments and bankruptcy. The small indiscretions of spending impacts credit rating, investments, and ability to secure housing. Whether our poor choices neglects relationships, hampers education, relies upon juvenile adaptations or damages health, we narrow opportunities, giving power to elements outside of our control, shifting experience from the glorious freedoms of choice to the hard levees of consequence. We have become the pawn in someone else’s game.

“A prolonged stretch of crummy choices constrains opportunities, severely limiting escape routes. These choices often are small imperceptible beginnings that bloom into full blown disasters.”

~T. Franklin Murphy

Desired futures have complex sets of requirements. We can’t demand blessings without paying the cost. A potent combination of courage, skill and opportunity enables achievement. We can become more than the current trajectories of our lives. Our futures are not determined. We can seize opportunities and take destiny into our own hands. We are responsible for who we will become. Accordingly, we must choose the next move, and let the pieces begin to fall as they may, and then move again.

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Amen, Daniel G. (2015). Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems. Harmony; Revised, Expanded edition.

Rogers, Carl R. (2012/1961). On Becoming A Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Mariner Books; 2nd ed. edition

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