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  • Dora Nudelman

Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

It can be really tough getting feedback from others about our behavior that we do not particularly like. As such, when someone tells us that what we have done has hurt them in some way, it is natural to go on the defensive. After all, who wants to feel like they have potentially done something wrong?

From childhood many of us develop the fear of being wrong, bad, or unloved and so we create defenses for ourselves that aim to dissolve, deflect, or deny our responsibility. The problem with this, however, is that it creates a disconnect between people, and a lack of personal growth for ourselves.

If we are all to have healthier relationships we need to acknowledge that while everyone might have their own standards and expectations, we must still be open to listening and learning about how our choices and behaviors affect other people. We cannot unquestionably assume that we are automatically in the right, as that would not only be insensitive but also quite condescending and arrogant. Instead, we must consider the other’s viewpoint, empathize a little, and think about if perhaps our actions were indeed somewhat callous. Sure, it is possible that what we say or do can be somewhat misinterpreted in some way but, regardless, it is never acceptable to diminish or dismiss how another person is feeling by telling them that it’s all in their head.

Moreover, if we keep receiving the same type of feedback from multiple sources we must heed its message, for the more ignorant we stay, the more ignorant we become. Patterns will never change if we continuously point the finger at everybody else. As such, integrity must be a part of our nature or else we will keep creating even more conflict in our lives.

We all make mistakes but what separates an enlightened person from an ignorant one is the willingness to reflect upon one’s behavior and adjust as needed. What is important, however, is that we understand that in taking this type of responsibility we are not only bettering ourselves, we are also making peace with others.

Everybody wants to feel validated and heard. But if we want that for ourselves too we are going to have to give it to others as well. Admitting you are wrong does not make you stupid, less lovable, or inferior. In fact, it makes you self-responsible and capable of change. It does not demean you to apologize for your actions. In fact, it empowers you.

Conflict between people is no different than conflict between nations; it all stems from ignorance, arrogance, and an unwillingness to put ourselves in another's shoes. But the only way to realizing true peace in our own lives and in the world at large is to understand that being honest, having integrity, and owning up to our mistakes is not foolish or weak but, rather, commendable, authentic, and necessary to our personal and collective evolution.

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