“There is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That person is you. If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life.”
– Jack Canfield
Do you agree with this quote?
I love the sentiment. It is freeing to know that you have the power to shape your own life and happiness. It is easy to blame people or circumstances when we look at our lives and see that it doesn’t measure up, but that isn’t really a fair assessment. We all face challenges – sometimes very different challenges – nonetheless, we have the ability to create the life that we want.
The idea of taking 100% responsibility for your life essentially puts your own destiny in your own hands. This is an empowering and freeing thought.
As much as I love the sentiment, and strive to apply it in my own life, I do believe it is flawed. What about child abuse? Rape? Kidnappings? The loss of a parent, spouse or child? People who have been imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit? These may be extreme examples, but I believe such extremes are the exceptions to this rule. Child abuse, for example, can greatly affect that child’s course of life as they enter adulthood.
There is absolutely no way to say that a child was responsible for that type of experience. It would be just as impossible to say that abuse did not affect their lives. A person abused as a child is not responsible for what happened to them, but they don’t have to be held back or defined by their circumstances.
The irony is abusers often blame their victims. I have a friend who was beaten badly by her mother throughout her childhood. Her mother even kicked her out of the house as a young teenager, threatening to kill her! As crazy as it sounds, my friend adored her mom. She would tell me how her mom used to come into her bedroom and cry over her at night. She kept the abuse a secret for most of her life, until recently when some extended family members said some things that let her know that her Mom had painted an entirely different picture, casting a bad light on her. When she confronted her mom, she half-expected her mom to deny the abuse… but she didn’t. Her response? “You deserved it.”
I think the only way for a person who has experienced such horrors is to accept, fully – 100% – that they did not deserve it. Every child deserves to be loved and cherished and protected. In order to take 100% responsibility for their lives, they have to deny 100% responsibility for such atrocities. It’s important to re-frame your mind and understand you deserve love and kindness and good in life. Understanding this empowers you to become the type of person you want to be, to break the mould and forge a new path – of success, happiness and love.
I understand abuse is an extreme example. The point is, we may not ALWAYS be able to take 100% responsibility for the circumstances in our lives. We have the power to shape our lives by wisely choosing our friends, people we look up to, how we spend our time, habits, our career path, etc – these actions will shape our experiences. But there are exceptions. When you are unable to control the circumstances in your life – you can still control the person you will be. You can choose your thoughts, your actions, your own identity. We all face difficult circumstances, some we can’t always control. But we can always control our own character.
My favourite example of this is Oprah. She was raised in poverty and abuse, and yet never talks about this – it doesn’t define her. Her name is equated with success. Her character, her choices, her actions, define her.
We all have the same blank slate, so long as we choose to see a new day as a blank slate and not be defined by the things that hold us back!