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  • Dr Andrew Perry

My experience of not taking personal responsibility.

Updated: Jul 1

I am part of a wider problem of people not taking all our personal responsibility. Sometimes acting as if other people are responsible for our personal conduct. Saying to ourselves ‘I am not playing if I can't win’, ‘I did it because I was allowed to’ or ‘everyone else was doing it.’ Hiding behind mitigations, a grievance, popular culture, governments and/or our history. My most recent example is wasting energy being angry about COVID 19 school provision. Rather than the grieving its loss and focusing my energies on educating my own kids.


My emotions in writing this article are an embarrassment that this pattern persists and sadness that many people, including me, seem to remain fearful of taking all our personal responsibility. So to become less a part of this problem I will detail the ways I perpetuate the problem. Then suggest ways for me to change to become less a part of the problem.


I perpetuate the problem by having too much hubris. Attracted to a narcissistic sense of myself. Seducing myself into believing I am fundamentally different. As if my actual self was not enough.


Some people say ‘if you [take the personal responsibility to] speak your truth your tribe will be those who hang around.’ However a voice in my head sometimes says ‘what if I speak my truth and no one hangs around?’ As if I were fundamentally different from other people or that I would be destroyed by appearing so.


I procrastinate, sometimes saying, ‘If only I write more or think more or find the perfect way before I act.’ A particular form of action dominated by avoidance rather than risk taking. As if any decision, or lack of a decision, in our lives did not involve significant risk and loss.


Taking all our personal responsibility seems to involve accepting a paradox. That both fairness and loyalty are equally important. This paradox means that the same action, will be responsible in one context, and irresponsible in another. As adults we must consciously decide, using our own moral code, which action is responsible for us, in which context.


Our actions may be viewed as a betrayal, or a failure in a duty of care, by other people. People disagreeing with our choices does not automatically mean we have not taken personal responsibility. It may instead represent the different context, or moral code, of the other person. Either way, in making these conscious decisions to take all our personal responsibility, we also have to accept the consequences of them.


Taking more personal responsibility also seems to involve responding to the challenges we face here and now. It seems irresponsible for us to continue to indulge in condemnation about the past. We need to learn and move on. In this way responsibility can be an opportunity to do something different going forwards. That can be exciting instead of scary.


Its my life

I have learnt that taking all our personal responsibility is a judgement we have to be accountable for. Whatever we do cannot be undone. We must answer to ourselves for our actions. If we are to be content we need to act in a way that fits with how we want to be. Thank you for reading about my experience. I wonder about your experience?

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©2020 Dr Andrew Perry, Linlithgow, Scotland