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  • Matthew Trethewey

Take Full Responsibility for Your Life

"When you think everything is someone else's fault, you will suffer a lot. But, when you realise that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy." —Dalai Lama


Have you ever blamed anyone, complained about something or made excuses for yourself?


I have. And if you are honest, I'm sure you have too. Is this a problem? Absolutely. Why? Let's find out.


Before I became aware of this life-changing concept, I was guilty of blaming, complaining and making excuses. But, unfortunately, I was not taking full responsibility.


There is only one person responsible for the quality of my life - and that person is me.


If you study successful people as I do, you will notice a common thread between them. They all take full responsibility.


When I first discovered this concept, I found it difficult to stomach. But once I understood it, accepted it, and applied it to my life, it transformed me.


Taking full responsibility means I appreciate that I create everything that happens to me. I acknowledge that I am the cause of all my experiences.

If I want to be successful, I have to give up all blaming, complaining and excuse-making, and take full responsibility for everything I produce - that means all my results, both my successes and my failures.


I assume full responsibility. Nothing less will do.


When I understood and accepted that I was responsible for everything in my life, I realised that I have the controls to create my future. So, for example, if there was something in my life that I was not happy with, and I made that, I could uncreate it and recreate something better to replace it.

But, this is not easy. Most people blame outside forces for the parts of our lives that are not working. But, the real problem is us! It's time to stop making excuses. We're the ones who created it.


Though the concept of taking full responsibility is simple, it is not necessarily easy to implement. It requires concentration, awareness, discipline, and a willingness to experiment and take risks.


Now, I always take full responsibility for my life.


I'm more attentive to what I'm doing and to the results I'm producing. I often ask myself, "Is this working? Could I be doing it better? Could I be doing something different? Could I stop doing this?"


I ask more for feedback. And I'm not afraid to hear the truth. I believe I'm better off knowing because then I can do something about it. Otherwise, it takes longer, and it's more challenging for me to expand and grow.

I slow down and take my time. I pay attention to what is happening around me. When I sense something is wrong, I ask myself, "How am I creating or allowing this to happen? What am I doing that's not working? What do I need to experiment with and see if it works?"


Dr Roberts Resnick, an American psychotherapist, talked about a straightforward but fundamental formula that explains this concept of taking full responsibility.


The formula is:

E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome)


The basic idea is this: Every outcome we experience in life (whether it is success or failure, wealth or poverty, health or illness, joy or frustration) results from how we have responded to an earlier event or events in our life.

If we don't like our outcomes, we have two options:


1. We can blame the event (E) for our lack of results. In other words, we can blame the economy, government, weather, boss, parents, etc. No doubt all these factors exist, but nobody would ever succeed if they were the deciding factor.


2. We can instead merely change our responses (R) to the events (E) – the way things are – until we get the outcomes (O) we want.


If we don't like our outcomes, we need to change our responses.


We have control over three main things in our lives:

1. The thoughts we think

2. The images we visualise

3. The actions we take (our behaviour).


How we use these three things determines the outcomes we will experience. If we're not happy with what we're producing, we have to change our response:


- Change our negative thoughts to positive ones

- Change what we visualise and imagine about

- Change our habits and behaviours

- Change what we read and watch

- Change our friends

- Change how we talk about ourselves and others


A big part of why I left the teaching profession was that I had achieved my goal of becoming an outstanding teacher. I had fulfilled my original intention. I had nothing to reach for and complete.


However, getting to this level took me several years. At first, I struggled. I would get only satisfactory or good ratings. It was frustrating. And I would make excuses, complain and blame others for this.


I improved my rating by taking full responsibility. I thought to myself, "How am I creating this? What am I doing that's not working? Could I be doing it better?" One of my actions was to ask for more in-depth feedback. I also enquired about other outstanding teachers, and I watched them all teach. I took notes. I even moulded some of their best techniques into my practice. By changing my responses, I was able to create my desired outcome.


The E + R = O concept has taught me that I can better produce the outcomes I want by changing my thoughts, imagery, and behaviour. It helps redirect my energy to focus on what's possible. When I replace my old self-defeating reactions with empowering responses, I am much more likely to achieve my desired goal.


Whenever I blame, complain, or make an excuse, I immediately sense a red flag: these negative thoughts are a problem, and they will prevent me from achieving my goals.


Using E + R = O, I move from being stuck to being resourceful, from being preoccupied with doom stories to focusing on what's possible and making that happen.


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