It’s Not Your Fault–But It Is Your Responsibility

We all have circumstances in our lives that we didn’t cause.

It’s not your fault the economy crashed. It’s not your fault you can’t get the war out of your head. It’s not your fault you got cancer.

It’s not your fault your dad hit you, or that thug robbed you, or some guy decided he didn’t need your permission to have his way with you.

None of it is your fault. But the experience is yours now. That makes it your responsibility.

I don’t mean it’s something you’ll be held accountable for. You could be, fair or no. That could happen.

I mean it’s your responsibility to decide where you go from here.

You can take the experience, build a protective casing around it, make it into a shrine to your lost past. To what might have been. You can let one missed opportunity control the rest of your life. You can become bitter and angry and lash out at others who had nothing to do with your unhappiness.

Or you can accept that it happened and move on with your life. Do what you have to do to heal, seek justice if it’s appropriate, protect yourself from it happening again. But move on.

You have a choice to make. You can either tell yourself–and the world–how hard it is to live as a person this happened to, or you can accept it’s now part of your life and carry on as best you can.

You don’t need to forget. Some things can’t be forgotten.

You might need to forgive. Yourself first, then those who wronged you. It doesn’t mean you abandon the idea of justice; it does mean you don’t let their act determine who you become. You don’t give them control of your future.

You probably need to choose a dream and focus on achieving it. The dream is probably already there. If it’s still accessible to you, chase it. If not, adjust your target and chase that. But chase something big, something you’re not sure you can do. Quit telling yourself people this happened to can’t do big things like that. Set out to prove yourself wrong.

Take responsibility for how you respond to the events that define your life. Climb up on top of them and use them to help you reach your goals. Resist the temptation to hide under them and let them become your life.

It’s not your fault it happened. What you do with it–that’s your responsibility.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Sometimes it IS my fault it happened. But whatever mistakes we’ve made in the past are history we can’t change. We can only learn from them (or not) and move forward. I like the idea of climbing on top of the obstacles to reach our dreams. Sometimes a “bad” thing that happens is the exact catalyst we need for change.

    Great post, Scott.

    • H. Scott Dalton

      Absolutely right, Suzy–sometimes it is our fault, and figuring out how to move on is a different question. But too many of us spend our time steaming over or regretting something that happened to us instead of getting up and moving on. Thanks for the comment!