Why is It So Difficult to Accept Responsibility for Your Own, Negative Actions?

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, responsibility is defined as “the state of being the person who caused something to happen, a duty or task that you are required or expected to do, or something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.” (2016).  For this specific posting, I’d like to use the last portion of that definition–“something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.” (“Responsibility”, 2016).  Through the power of observation, I’ve noticed that America’s society as a whole does not necessarily enjoy or like taking responsibility for themselves when it comes down to the negative actions that happen; however, if something positive occurs, people will generally take responsibility immediately and try to get as much of the attention as they can.  My question still remains though–Why is it so difficult to accept responsibility for your own, negative actions?

I tend to observe people in a variety of settings–at restaurants, in stores shopping, out in public, etc.  I observe people because I’ve always wondered what makes people do the things they do and sometimes by watching people casually you’re catch a glimpse of who they really are deep, down to their souls.  Through observation, I have often wondered why certain individuals made the choices they did.  For example, I confronted a friend about something he said he would do and didn’t follow through with that action.  I wasn’t bothered or upset by the fact that the initial action didn’t take place; I was upset and hurt because the other person skirted around an apology and proceeded to bring up excuse after excuse as to why the initial action didn’t take place.  If that friend and I had a conversation about it right away, the situation would’ve been dealt with and resolved much differently.

People don’t take responsibility for their negative actions for multiple reasons.  One reason, I believe, people may not always take responsibility for their negative actions is because it’s easier to blame someone else than to accept that they’ve failed at something.  What happens when people blame others is that the other individuals involved get hurt or offended, anger and disappointment tends to fester, and relationships become broken.

Another reason people may not always take responsibility for their actions is because they may not be socially aware that what happened was morally or socially unacceptable.  When this happens, the initial people tend to be ostracized because they don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong and become isolated because people are turned off by their behavior.

Thirdly, people may not always take responsibility for themselves because they may not see the immediate consequences for their actions (Jackson, 2014).  When people don’t see the immediate consequences for their actions, those consequences will catch up with them sooner or later.  The result (short term or long term)o f not taking responsibility for their actions may lead to the inability to pay bills, the loss of friends and family, the loss of wordly possessions, the lack of a job or career, and a ding to personal self-worth and self-value.  Individuals (from the outside looking in) will begin to view those people going through those situations differently.

Many other reasons for not taking responsibility may happen; however, when one takes responsibility for his or her own actions, perspectives and lives change.  Taking responsibility for your own actions, positive or negative, is not a horrible thing to do.  By taking responsibility for yourself, especially for the negative actions, you could potentially be repairing broken relationships with family members or friends, making another person’s day better, rectifying miscommunications or difficult situations, or even improving your integrity and developing a better self-worth.  By accepting responsibility for your positive and negative actions, people will see you in a more positive light because you took the time to make a difficult situation better.  When  you step up to the plate and accept the mistakes that happen, people will value your word and value you as an individual because you took the time to make things right.

So, I will leave you with this…what will it take for each of us to own our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions in order to help change our lives and others for the better?

Citations

Jackson, Shawn.  “Do You Accept Responsibility for Your Actions?”.  Good Choices Good Life.  2014.  Found 21 July 2016.  http://www.goodchoicesgoodlife.org/choices-for-young-people/accepting-responsibility-/

“Responsibility.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.

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