Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is the act of accepting accountability for one's actions, acknowledging the outcome of those actions and realizing that what one does can affect others as well. People have to take upon themselves the responsibility for any unfortunate situation or turmoil that they have brought about into their lives. The task of amending any negligence or mistakes is placed at the person's doorstep who then must amend those actions. A person has many responsibilities and functions to fulfill; as a spouse, a parent, an employee or employer. etc. Many times, while fulfilling those roles the person's emotions character and strengths will be put to the test and challenged. As a responsible person, one must choose what is within one's control, what is right and what is wrong, and what is good and what is bad.

When one does not take personal responsibility, there is a tendency to place the blame for one's immaturity and lack of personal development and growth onto everybody except oneself. Everything that the person has done is the fault of someone else. When always looking to fault some event or some other person, it is very difficult to advance and to move forward in life because the focus is wrong. Accepting personal responsibility is the correct attitude and displays wisdom and maturity and helps eliminate unnecessary problems in life.

There are many who equate responsibility with obligation and duty and consider accountability as a burden. People have to realize that responsibility is a blessing and not a burden. Personal responsibility accords people the opportunity, freedom and power to determine the course of their lives. Once people realize this fact and admit to their failures and become cognizant of the truth, they will feel liberated and will gain the power to completely change themselves. As people have the freedom to choose the course of their lives, they and only they are responsible for their future and present, their successes and failures and their unhappiness and happiness.

The ability to accept personal responsibility is the aspect that separates a child from an adult. It is a sign of maturity and the indication of being totally incorporated into the world of mature responsible adults.

Responsibility is the minimum needed in order to become an accomplished person. It is closely associated with motivation, achievement, self-actualization, success and happiness. When people finally realize that they are alone and nobody will be there to bail them out, they can begin to understand the meaning of responsibility.

The opposite of being accountable for one's actions is ascribing blame and accusing others and making excuses for what is happening in one's life. As people do nearly everything out of habit, and a very common habit is making excuses, people get into the habit of avoiding responsibility and invent excuses for their deeds. It is natural that when one wants to accomplish something and sets a goal, the first thing one does is to prepare excuses just in case the goal is unfulfilled for whatever reason. Irresponsible people immediately turn to their excuses to vindicate themselves when things turn out poorly. In the long run, it will not rescue them.

There is a very strong correlation between being a responsible person and being a happy and satisfied person on the one hand, and being irresponsible and unhappy on the other hand. When one is happy, one has control over one's life; the more sense of control the happier the person. Accomplished people or those in high positions in a company feel much happier than those who are not. The reason is that they feel that they are in control and in command of their destinies and have greater freedom for taking action and effecting decisions. The greater the responsibility one has, the greater the authority and the more power and respect one will get. People who feel terrific and great about themselves are the happiest people and that is a direct outgrowth of living as a responsible person.

People who are irresponsible and shun all responsibility will show traits of hostility, fear, resentment and anger and experience self doubt. They also will also experience negative emotions which can result from irresponsibility. Many emotional problems exist and stem from not being able to accept responsibility and placing blame elsewhere.

When one becomes a responsible person, one becomes a finer, stronger and better person and nearly every aspect of life begins to improve.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Boundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought
Samuel Scheffler.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Individual Responsibility in a Global Age"
Confounded Expectations: The Law's Struggle with Personal Responsibility
George W. Jarecke; Nancy K. Plant.
Southern Illinois University Press, 2000
Moral Responsibility in Collective Contexts
Tracy Isaacs.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "Individual Moral Responsibility in Collective Contexts"
The Constitution of Liberty in the Open Economy
Lüder Gerken.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of personal responsibility begins on p. 104
Equality and Responsibility
Christopher Lake.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Personal Responsibility, Public Policy, and the Economic Stimulus Plan
Wynia, Matthew K.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 39, No. 2, March-April 2009
Personal and Social Responsibility for Health
Wikler, Daniel.
Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2, October 2002
Individual Responsibility for Health: Decision, Not Discovery
Yoder, Scot D.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 32, No. 2, March-April 2002
Public Responses to Intimate Partner Violence against Women: The Influence of Perceived Severity and Personal Responsibility
Gracia, Enrique; García, Fernando; Lila, Marisol.
The Spanish Journal of Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 2, July 1, 2009
Personal Responsibility: A Plausible Social Goal, but Not for Medicaid Reform
Hermer, Laura D.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 38, No. 3, May-June 2008
The Protagonists and Ideas Behind the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996: The Enactment of a Conservative Welfare System
O'Connor, Brendon.
Social Justice, Vol. 28, No. 4, Winter 2001
People at Work: Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in the New Economy
Marjorie L. Devault.
New York University Press, 2008
Librarian’s tip: Discusses personal responsibility in multiple chapters, including Chap. 9 "Personal Responsibility in Professional Work: The Academic 'Star' as Ideological Code" and Chap. 11 "Exploring Problematics of the Personal-Responsibility Welfare State: Issues of Family and Caregiving in Welfare-to-Work and Medicaid Consumer-Directed Care Programs"
Human Motivation
Bernard Weiner.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1980
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "Social Learning Theory and Personal Responsibility"
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