Personal Responsibility & Wellness
At face value, personal responsibility may seem like it has nothing to do with health and wellness. However, in my work, I see this one factor pop up over and over. For many individuals it can be a huge obstacle in accomplishing their goals - health, fitness, wellness...but beyond that, interferes in finding happiness, purpose, and peaceful content throughout life.
I work with clients wanting to lose weight, gain strength, improve their physique, improve their relationship with food, feel better on a day-to-day basis, slow down ageing, improve sports performance, and everything in-between. It has blown me away how common it is to need to address personal responsibility in order to help individuals (young and old alike) achieve their goals.
I am a workaholic, and always have been. I can thank my parents for instilling this quality in me as I was growing up, so it’s something I’ve never had to think much about. Until this past year.
In the media, you probably hear a lot about “victimhood mentality”, which in essence is the opposite of personal responsibility. Someone with a “victimhood mentality” would also be someone who does not take personal responsibility in their life. From the perspective of this person, there is always someone or something to blame for their problems, obstacles, and inability to accomplish goals. For some, this kind of thinking may even prevent them from finding happiness and peace in their life. Sometimes there are excuses, sometimes there are life-events, sometimes there are people, sometimes there are life events, and sometimes it’s just “bad luck”.
This mentality can be dangerous in many ways. For one, it makes it almost impossible to meet health and wellness goals. From this person’s perspective, they are never in control of their actions. If they didn’t eat the way they were supposed to, it was the fault of a third party, or even their own exponential un-controllable laziness. If they didn’t accomplish the weekly goals we defined together, didn’t perform up to standard at work, didn’t show up for their kids, or didn’t eat their vegetables, same deal. There’s always something.
I’m sure that everyone reading knows at least one person who thinks like this, or even sometimes you find yourself doing this. As per many things in life, there is a broad sliding scale.
The great thing about personal responsibility and letting this factor inspire your thoughts and actions is that you are in control of your life. It’s extremely empowering and boosts confidence like nothing else. It also drives us to identify and solve problems, think strategically, and observe ourselves and others through a clear lense.
Now, personal responsibility does not mean that you must always take the fall for every single thing, and that you should discontinue practices of self-love, self-care, and empathy. Of course there are scenarios that are not in your control, and they may REALLY suck. However, a mindset inspired by personal responsibility is helpful in dealing with those scenarios in the best possible way, and moving forward with continued personal growth, development, and learning.
I want to be very clear about what I’m NOT saying. I’m not saying that there aren’t circumstances where you are not in control, that bad things don’t not happen for no good reason, or that in this world there aren’t mindless tragedies occurring on an hourly basis. I’m not saying that these things are the affected individual’s fault. I’m not saying that there is never someone or something to blame. And I’m definitely not brushing aside anyone’s problems.
What I AM saying is that in these and other cases of misfortune, holding onto victimhood-type mentalities are SO limiting. I will be the first to say that really shitty shit happens. It happens to everyone. Sometimes it is worse than others. There are always going to be obstacles.
But despite obstacles, challenges, and misfortunes, you are still in control. You are in control of your present, your future, your attitude, your outlook, your actions, and of how you let past incidences affect you. Will they drag you down? Or will you heal, learn, and become stronger?
I’m not going to lie, this isn’t easy. Some phases of your life you may never even fathom being dragged down. Some phases of your life you may be limiting yourself but not even know it. And some phases of your life will just be too painful, and you will do the best you can to just be.
But if you work to banish victimhood, passiveness, excuses, and “this is just how things are” patterns of thinking, you will always learn and grow. You will always emerge stronger. And you will always be your best self.
Just to finish this thought up, here are some quotes I have come across that I think communicate the importance of personal responsibility really well:
Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.
–Mary Tyler Moore
A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.
Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success.
Life is very interesting…in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
I’ve made mistakes, and I know why I made them, but I made that choice. Nobody’s ever made a choice for me.
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