I used to be so enamored with personal responsibly that I would often accept responsibility for things which were not mine to own up to. Of course understanding the true nature of personal responsibility means also knowing what not to claim.
It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities. ~Josiah Charles Stamp
Personal responsibility is a big subject, with many far-reaching ramifications and it alone holds the key to real (not perceived) happiness, self-confidence, and all the rewards which self-actualization affords. True happiness is knowing ahead of time you will have all the courage you'll need in the face of adversity, and unflinching confidence in your decisions - its the absence of fear. Not the healthy fear which keeps us alive, rather the pervasive fear which destroys lives. Because happiness itself requires unconditional acceptance of personal responsibility, and personal responsibility requires courage.
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, discontented one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate, happy and contented one.” The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered: “The one I feed.” *
The choice to which to feed of course is just that, a choice. Many do not believe that to be the case; that it is simply a platitude without any realistic practical application. They would be wrong - and I am very aware of my use of the word, "wrong." It was less than a month ago that I said I wanted to teach my children there is no right or wrong just motivation and intent and behavior. It was I who was mistaken. There is wrong in the world. Cognitive distortion proved that to me. I was re-reading the definitions of the traits of those who suffer at its cruel hands and was struck at the despair these people who think this way think is normal, right and good: limited, expectation, discounting positive, negative, inflexible, inability, rigid rules, absolute, and blame. Its not enough to teach my children that happiness is a choice - I need to teach them discernment - the ability to recognize this damaging disorder and to run from it! People who suffer from cognitive distortion do not live their life as if happiness were a choice - they are often disappointed. They suffer at their own hands.
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. ~Albert Einstein
The problem I have in explaining personal responsibility, is that it can only be truly learned through experience - one cannot understand the sheer scope of its empowering ability without first shedding attachment of self, attachment of other, and stepping through the empirical tests. Fear must not only be faced to be conquered as the poets would have you believe, but also dealt with accordingly, and reconciled for optimum effectiveness.
The enemy of my enemy may very well be my enemy also. ~ehowton
For this exercise, I suggest using my oft-discussed proven-results checklist of character-building which is a marvelous example which can be applied to a broad range of personality flaws and shortcomings. More specifically, "No, its not magic. And sure its difficult - anything worth doing is. But only its unfamiliarity makes it so. Start small. Try it with little things. Try it on for size. See how it feels. Don't go too far outside your comfort zone, but go far enough. What do I mean? Its like this: What you're doing now is obviously not working, so you really have nothing to lose, despite the initial discomfort of uncertainty. Once you've had a few small successes - and failures, don't forget the importance of failure - you can branch out even further. Utilize your newfound power on even larger issues to tackle." Before you know it, by having confronted your fear in challenging the small things, you can now effortlessly - and this time without fear - face the larger issues. No one is going to do this for you. Ever.
Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi
In researching personal responsibility I ran across Dr. Laura's blog where she had a hashtag for it. Not knowing anything about Dr. Larua but knowing quite a bit about personal responsibility I was horrified to discover that she was confusing personal responsibility with her own morals and values - what she herself thought was right and wrong action based on her beliefs alone. Responsibility assumption is an entirely secular doctrine insofar as it is universally applicable. Sure its been adopted into many different religions because of the truth of its nature - but to say that any one of those is the right way suggests that a different way is wrong, and we're suddenly back to cognitive distortion, the bane of critical thinking, personal responsibility's kissing cousin.
Some pursue happiness - others create it.
"You can’t accept responsibility for a situation and be angry at the same time. You can’t accept responsibility and be unhappy or upset. The acceptance of responsibility negates negative emotions and short-circuits any tendencies toward unhappiness. The very act of accepting responsibility calms your mind and clarifies your vision. It soothes your emotions and enables you to think more positively and constructively. In fact, the acceptance of responsibility often gives you insight into what you should do to resolve the situation."*
Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others. ~Confucius
I think - and please disagree - I'm having difficulty finding anyone to bounce these ideas off of, I think the opposite of personal responsibility is victimization. If you cannot, will not, or refuse to take responsibility for your own happiness and well-being, or easily get your feelings hurt, you are blaming others. You are finding fault in others. Portraying a victim is the short-game, it is absolutely not sustainable. Something somewhere will most assuredly break - even if its a lifetime later - and when it does, the inevitable inescapable judgement day. How we handle this eventuality is also a choice.