Personal responsibility: the pebble in the shoe

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Joe Dispenza

Personal responsibility: the pebble in the shoe

We all know the annoying sensation of the pebble in the shoe. It doesn't have to be large to hurt your foot. It just needs to be in the right place. What can we do when the pebble is mental? 

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Without personal responsibility, no progress or achievements are made. This psychological dimension has, in turn, an impact on our social environment. If each of us were more responsible for the actions performed, perhaps a new reality would take shape, more advanced, respectful and, above all, human.

During a conference held in the United States, Viktor Frankl said that America should give another name to the iconic Statue of Liberty. According to the famous psychiatrist, it should have been called the Statue of Responsibility.

The idea suggested by Frankl could be applied to any circumstance. Freedom is a faculty of the human being, but it can only be exercised through responsibility.

Being responsible ultimately means understanding that every action has consequences. As psychotherapist Albert Ellis noted, there is a tendency to avoid or evade responsibilities rather than take an active role when we are in trouble.

It is an attitude that often emerges in psychotherapy, the inability to take full responsibility for events. It is a defense mechanism, so it's easier to blame your partner, family, coworkers, or politics for your unhappiness.

We project others at the origin of our discomfort without knowing that many times the problem and the solution are us. Let's explore the topic in the next few lines.

Personal responsibility: it is up to us to remove the pebble from the shoe

Sometimes we limp. The foot hurts with every step, the shoe is torture, but we don't stop to check. Instead of sitting down and removing the pebble, we blame the disconnected road.

We are angry with the mayor for not doing sidewalk maintenance. Let's take out our anger on whoever made that uncomfortable shoe. Or even on our family, friends and acquaintances because they do not help us to remove the pebble.

Life is sometimes unfair, but even more so if we don't take over the reins of our existence and we solve our problems.

We, only we, are responsible for our well-being

Confucius said that what the superior man seeks is in himself, what the cheap man seeks is in others.

In other words, it is true that the environment affects our chances of being happy. It is true that social, economic factors and childhood lived condition us. But often the worst enemy of our well-being is us; not the context, not the past.

Personal responsibility, therefore, means making a commitment to ourselves and making changes that are beneficial. How? By making bold decisions, by taking action. Realizing, however, that we must work towards this end. And especially, we stop blaming others, we take on the role of protagonists in the reality we want to create. 

It is good to remember that no one is born with a perfect balance, proof of adversity. You learn to feel good; this is what psychotherapy tries to offer: strategies for generating change and get closer to a point of balance and well-being.

"Parents can only give their children good advice or direct them on the right path, but the final formation of a person's personality is in the person's hands."

-Anna Frank-

Others do, we decide how to feel

The pebble can take different forms. Sometimes he is a specialist in making us lose our serenity, with his bad mood and bad temper. Other times it is the pain we carry on after a breakup of a bond or a disappointment left by a friend. In these cases, personal responsibility also passes through the control of emotions.

We can't walk if the shoe continues to hurt. We have to remove the stone and to do this we must understand and accept the emotional impact. And, at a later stage, regulate it, adopt new measures and decisions.

As a study conducted by the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London assures, training our emotional responsibility brings us closer to happiness.

Personal responsibility to accept failures and move on

In our life path we will not find only pebbles. We will come across broken roads and precipices. No one can prepare us for these unexpected situations. When this happens, we have two options: the simplest and most immediate is to give up and go back to where we came from.

But this is not appropriate. Being responsible means taking into account that there are also unexpected events. Sometimes we fail, we are wrong or we are unlucky. In these situations we must be responsible, courageous, determined. We will take a step back, perhaps, but to gain momentum.

To conclude, remember, There comes a time when we have to remove the pebble: stop blaming others for our malaise. We can and deserve to be happy again, but this requires the strength of decisions and, above all, responsibility.

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