“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

Sigmund Freud – Civilization and its discontents

To be completely honest, I haven’t read any of Freud’s work. However, when I bumped into this quote it resonated with me. It hit me somewhere deep in my core. Freedom is a keyword in my life and this sentence made me realize that if I want it, I need to own it.

No more asking “why me?” when something bad had happened or waiting for things to come into action. Once the realization hit me that it is up to me to make things happen, my mindset changed and I felt more in control. Let’s look at what impact this made and how it can help you.

Stop making excuses

When I was younger and even up to a few years back, I often found myself waiting for things to happen. This passive attitude made me depend on the people around me and some didn’t have my best intentions in mind. I say some, but most people put themselves first, which is logical to be fair. Now, I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but there was a moment when I remember telling myself to get into action and make things work.  The precise moment when it happened for the first time I don’t know you because I never stopped doing it.

Besides being passive, there were also the things that didn’t go my way. I was an expert at finding excuses to hide my own laziness or bad execution. It was either too difficult, too much work, or not possible. These excuses all sounded reasonable to me. Which made it even easier to use them as a shield for the big bad world that didn’t like me. It took me a long time before I was able to see that when things didn’t go the way I had envisioned, I had to look at myself. Examine what I could do better or differently. That’s the only way you can learn from plans that don’t work out the way you thought.

Assign responsibilities

Seeing this quote made me realize that I had been taking more responsibility for myself as of late. I had been more proactive and I had stopped making excuses. But it also opened my eyes to the fact that I can be more active in it. There is still enough room to grow. But now it feels like there is a poster on my mental wall with this quote on it. The word “Responsibility” reads there in capital letters.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

We assign our responsibility to the people around us, saving us from assuming it. Without responsibility, it seems that our lives run smoother and easier. It did so for me by taking control out of my hands and giving me that illusion. It made me become a passenger of my own life. This way I could blame everyone and everything around me for not reaching my objectives. On the other side, I couldn’t claim the successes since they didn’t feel like mine, either.

Listen, support, and be an example

It was difficult for me to accept praise and it still is. I get uncomfortable with it. It also raises suspicion about whether people are genuine or are playing a trick on me. But because I felt that I didn’t have an active part in them, it was even less my accomplishment. Although I still find criticism and compliments difficult to react to, I now know my own value. This allows me to better judge my actions and analyze them in the right light.

Now I find myself triggered by the word. It helps me get over moments of self-doubt and low motivation. I tell myself many times to take responsibility and get into action. After each result, you can tell that it works. It makes me feel more confident and powerful. It is up to me to make something of my life. No one else is going to do it for me. Even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t know what it is that I am after. The same way that I can’t tell what you might want. The only thing we can do for each other is; listen, support, and give the best example we can give.

If I can do it, then you can too

I can hear you think that this is all nice and positive to listen to, but things must go wrong sometimes. And you are right. When things go well, it is easier to look back and still feel good about yourself. But it is the moments that don’t turn out the way you planned that shape you. When you own up to the process and the result, they become a part of you. You are doing something and there shouldn’t be any regrets. Because at least you are living and if you see it as a lesson then even a perceived failure is a moment for growth. I’ll make mistakes but at least they are my mistakes.

The first step to taking responsibility is by understanding that all actions come from you. If you find yourself waiting for something to happen, then you’ve given up your power over that situation. Sometimes it does take some waiting for things to develop, but then you can focus on something else. There isn’t one way that leads to your goals; find others. Have many wheels set in motion, be active, and take life head-on. If you have an idea that looks too big, then start smaller. Break it down and work from there. If you do it yourself and learn along the way, then you’ll become the expert. If I can take control of my life, then you can do so too.

Take your responsibility

On Taking Responsibility - Freud Quote
On Taking Responsibility – Freud Quote

Are you taking charge of your life by owning your responsibilities? Or are you waiting for things to happen? You could start by telling yourself that it is your life and your responsibility to use it. It might make you feel a bit anxious, but you’ll soon start feeling more ownership and have more belief in yourself. Look at the parts of your goals that you don’t have control over and see what you can change. Sometimes a completely different approach is necessary or more than one strategy. But it is in your power to do it, it needs one decision from you.

That decision is you telling yourself that you are worth it and that you can do it. And believe me, you can. My self-esteem wasn’t always high and although my ideas were big, they didn’t happen because of my fear to fail. But I’ve managed to change that around. It all started with this change of mindset. Look for your priorities and work towards them. When you reach a moment of doubt, tell yourself that you can do it. Even if you don’t believe it at that time. You will do so the more you repeat it and keep going. This approach will give you autonomy and empowerment.

If we want freedom, then we need to look for it. We must define and create it for ourselves. With that in the back of your mind, the rest will become easier. Taking responsibility is a start to a more meaningful and rewarding life. It is for me at least and I hope it will be for you

On Taking Responsibility
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One thought on “On Taking Responsibility

  • 19 February 2022 at 16:30
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    Great Post! I believe that we, as a society, have become afraid to fail as it could be embarrassing. This has moved people to not take any risks or responsibility for their actions due to being labeled a failure. I loved your mention of responsibility allowing for freedom! That struck a chord with me to basically become your own man, own your mistakes, own your responsibility and you can always walk through the world knowing that it is all up to you.

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