Recently finished “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. I enjoyed the book, and some of it was a reiteration of things I had heard before.
Even what struck me as important is something I already knew:
Taking responsibility for something does not equal taking the blame for it.
Sometimes, there are things in life which happen just because they happen. Other things happen because some humans are douche bags. Then there are those things which occur because someone likes you. None of these are actually under my control. They are circumstances in my life.
Still with me?
Okay, here’s another observation which drops in from time to time:
My life is composed of circumstances and consequences. Circumstances are things I have no control over; they happen. Consequences are the products of my choices and inaction is a choice. (In case you’re wondering, consequences are neutral. Whether they are good or bad is something ascribed to them after the fact. Kinda like magic.)
Following this logic, I should only be responsible for taking care of my consequences, right? They are the products of my actions, therefore, I have some (limited) control over them.
That’s not quite true.
My life…read that again in case you missed it…my life is composed of circumstances (things I don’t control) and consequences (things I control to a limited degree). Keywords: My life. I don’t get to disown a portion of my life. This brings back the first point, taking responsibility does not equal taking blame. I cannot take blame for something I cannot control. Circumstances are beyond my control. They are gonna happen regardless of what I do. Yet, I am still responsible for them. I am responsible in the event a hurricane blows away my apartment. (I live in South GA. This is a yearly possibility.) In that event, I can sit on the concrete in front of my former apartment complex and wail at the sky or I can get on the phone with my landlord and the insurance people and find out how I’m moving to somewhere else. One of those is the responsible way of handling something I couldn’t control. Then in the case of my consequences, if I don’t like them, I ought to learn how not to achieve those consequences again.
In video game terms, if I know jumping into the lava equals instant death, I am not going to jump into the lava unless I want to die. In that case, it’s a choice with easy to recognize consequences.
Is it really this cut and dry? I’m sure there will be those who say it isn’t. There are circumstances I can’t possibly take responsibility for, they’ll say. To which my response is: “Are you sure? Have you tried?” If you’ve tried, you’ve taken responsibility for it and not found the solution you need yet. If you haven’t tried, remember inaction is a choice leading to consequences.
I struggle with this everyday. I need to print these ideas out and put them on my wall because I forget.
It’s my life. I’m responsible for it. At the end of the day, it is neither more nor less what I made it.
Tell me what you think. Have you read the book? Did you get some other important insight out of it? Or just want to debate me on the point I’ve raised? Leave a comment.