Ask the Readers: Are You Responsible For How Your Life Is?



In the long run, we shape our lives,

and we shape ourselves.

The process never ends until we die.

And the choices we make are

ultimately our own responsibility. 

– Eleanor Roosevelt


I hear people complaining all the time about how something is someone else’s fault. They blame their unhappiness on other people, their poverty on the economy, their situation on circumstances. 

I didn’t get a pay raise because my manager is threatened by me. 

I failed the exam because the questions were too hard. 

I am unhappy because my husband cheated on me, and left me. 

I can’t be optimistic because I have cancer. 

I am depressed because I had a traumatic childhood. 

Does any of above sound familiar? If not those exact things, you have said something similar at some point, or you know people who do. I deliberately picked a whole range of complaints, and some of them quite serious.

After all, if someone has cancer, we feel sorry for them, we wish them well, we understand if they are angry and pessimistic. But this is not about how feel. 

What if you are the one who has cancer? You didn’t choose to have that illness, and maybe there is not much that can be done about it. But you CAN CHOOSE how you are going to live the time you have.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying you will feel like smiling while you are going to painful chemo. But I also know there are people who continue to bounce back. They have bad days, painful days, depressing days, but then they get back to living their purpose. I’m constantly inspired by these people. They do not let their illness define them. 

That was an extreme example. 

What about the person who blames their boss for not getting a raise? You may well have a terrible boss. Does that mean you should let him put  your career on hold? Or maybe you can take on projects that have high visibility, show your boss’ boss and the other managers what you can do. Promote yourself – first by doing great work, and then making sure people know about it. This is not about blowing your own horn for the sake of it. It’s about taking responsibility for your success

I am not trying to belittle your problems or your circumstances. Some of those may well be outside your control. But how you respond to them is within your control. 

You are responsible for your life. Not your parents. Not your spouse. Not your boss. Not God. You.

Examples of great courage are all around you. People who keep going despite all odds. People who are no more special than you are. If they can do great things, why not you?

And that’s the ultimate truth of freedom. 

You can. 

Once you accept the truth that you alone are completely responsible for your life – regardless of whose fault it is that you are where you are – you are in a position to decide what you want  your life to be, and take steps to achieve it.

What do you think? Do you think you are the one ultimately responsible for how your life turns out?



Journal about where you are passing on responsibility for parts of your life to someone else, by either blaming things on others or waiting for others to fix things. What are you going to do about it? 


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5 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Are You Responsible For How Your Life Is?

  1. Of course I am responsible for my life! I am also responsible to my reactions to how other folks want to act around me or do something to me or say about me. I choose to be angry or forgiving; to rejoice or not. Most of the time I choose to be positive.

  2. Clayton,

    Choosing positive is an empowering choice. It benefits not just you, but people around you.

    However, it is astonishing the number of people who do not take full responsibility for their lives!

  3. Dolly,

    I’m reminded of Stephen Covey’s words “I am a product of my choices” and I think about how we choose to respond to any situation. Having cancer is horrible. There’s nothing fun or uplifting about it. However, cancer isn’t the reason someone will die. We all die. As far as I know, there’s no way around it for us, so accepting that it can come from cancer or a car wreck is very liberating. All people experience pain and loss; the difference lies in those who dwell on the negative vs those who love the beauty of life, in all it’s frailties.

    Did you ever read “Attitude” by Charles Swindoll? If not, I’ll include a link. I put this above my desk to remind myself it all rests on me :)

    With Love,

  4. Trent,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment. No I haven’t read “Attitude” but saw the YouTube link you included. I totally agree :-)

    Thank you for sharing it with me.

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