“It’s not my fault!”
Anyone who’s spent even a small amount of time around kids – and, sadly, most adults – has heard those words used as a way of trying to shift blame to someone else. But the reason people try to shift fault has little to do with the actual blame for the event.
Instead, what they’re really trying to do is excuse themselves from the responsibility for taking action moving forward.
Don’t confuse fault with responsibility. The ability to understand the difference empowers you to move from a state of victim-hood to a state of victory in life.
Let me explain. Read the statements below and see if any of them resonate with you. Maybe you (or someone you know) have said something similar.
- It’s not my fault that I’m overweight. My parents were overweight and it runs in the family.
- It’s not my fault that I have anger issues. My dad physically abused me when I was a kid.
- It’s not my fault that I lie a lot. I had to in order to survive growing up.
- It’s not my fault that I lost my job. My company was mismanaged and went out of business.
- It’s not my fault that I’m addicted to pain pills. I am in constant pain after the accident.
- It’s not my fault that I …
All of these things may in fact be true. Many things that happen to you may not be your fault. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where things happen to us that are outside of our control. Kids are abused and abandoned. They grow up in terrible environments with terrible parents. People are permanently injured in accidents that weren’t their fault. Lives are altered sometimes through no fault of your own.
But here’s the reality: just because something isn’t your fault, that doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility.
- You may be overweight and it may run in your family. But it’s your responsibility to manage it.
- Through no fault of your own, you may have been abused by someone you trusted. But how you live from today forward is your responsibility.
- You may have grown up in a world where you had to lie to survive. But it’s now your responsibility as an adult to live differently.
- Your company may have collapsed through now fault of your own. But it’s now your responsibility to provide for yourself and your family.
- The accident that injured you may not have been your fault. But it’s now your responsibility to seek treatment for your addiction.
I don’t know your personal story, but I do know my own story and the story of family and friends that I love. I know of very specific events in my life that weren’t necessarily my fault. But what I choose to do with them is 100% my responsibility.
There have been times in my life when I wanted to cry out, “It’s not my fault!” In those moments, what I really wanted to do was shift responsibility away from myself. You see, I knew that something wasn’t my fault and that I had to live with the consequences of another person’s choice – and that angered me.
Part of me wanted to be a victim because, as long as I was a victim, I didn’t have to do anything. I could pity myself. I could use my victim status to excuse just about anything. I knew, however, that victims are never happy. They never find joy. They never find peace. They are usually miserable people to be around. They find their identity in being a victim rather than in taking 100% responsibility for their lives and choosing to live differently.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. When I tell my clients to take 100% responsibility for their lives, I’m not telling them to accept blame for what others did to them in their past. You never excuse the misbehavior of others. What I want them to understand (and what I want you to understand) is that your life, from today forward, is 100% your responsibility. What you choose, what you believe, what you feel, what you do with your life, is your responsibility.
You can’t change the past. You can’t change what happened to you. You can’t change how you grew up. You can’t change the fact that you got laid off. You can, however, choose to live differently in spite of your past. It’s not easy but it is possible. People do it all the time.
So, fine, it may not be your fault – but that doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility. If fact, chances are good that it now is.