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The higher your self-esteem, the more confidence you have in your ability to cope with life's never-ending challenges. Strong self-esteem is based on many factors, one of which is self-responsibility. The greater responsibility you take for your own happiness, safety, security, choices, consequences of your actions, etc., the greater your self-esteem will be. Likewise, the more you blame others for the challenges in life and the more you rely on others to provide for your well-being, the lower your self-esteem will be. Certainly, we cannot control and are not responsible for everything that life throws at us, but that does not eliminate the causality of our own choices. What are the things we do to help build self-esteem in ourselves and in others? What are the things we do that work against self-esteem? What are the consequences of political entitlements on self-esteem? What happens to the self when we push the burden of our own failures onto society at large?


Ultimately, an attitude of self-responsibility must be generated from within the individual. It cannot be "given" from the outside, just as self-esteem cannot. And yet we can appreciate that there are social environments in which people are more likely to learn self-responsibility and environments in which they are less likely. There are social philosophies and policies that encourage independence, and there are others that encourage dependence...

An attitude of self-responsibility is most likely to flourish where there is good, basic self-esteem. When parents and teachers convey their belief in a young person's competence and worth, they are laying the best possible groundwork not only for the emergence of self-esteem but also for self-responsibility and independence. What we want to discuss here are two simple ideas:

  • Young people are most likely to learn self-responsibility from adults who personally exemplify it in their behavior.

  • Young people are most likely to learn self-responsibility if their parents and teachers require it.

...If, however, children grow up in a home or are educated in a school system among adults who hold themselves accountable for what they do, are honest about acknowledging their mistakes, carry their own weight in relationships, and work for what they want in life, there is a good probability, although never an absolute guarantee, that this behavior will be perceived as normal and as what is appropriate to a human being...

Apart from exemplifying self-responsibility themselves, the greatest contribution adults can make is to convey to young people that self-responsibility is what is expected and required...

In nature, if we behave irresponsibly we suffer the consequences not because nature is "punishing" us but because of simple cause and effect. If we do not plant food, we do not reap a harvest. If we are careless about fire, we destroy our property. If we build a raft without securing the logs properly, the raft comes apart in the water and we may lose our belongings or drown. None of this happens because reality is angry with us. If reality could speak, it might say, "It's nothing personal."

Parents who wish to encourage self-responsibility teach consequences, teach cause and effect. We don't want to eat with you if you make the experience unpleasant for us. We won't lend you the car if you keep returning it with an empty tank. If you show evidence of self-responsibility, we'll be inspired to assist you in your goals. If we see you repeatedly living unthinkingly, we refuse to go on being a rescuer - we refuse to care more about your life than you do. If you want dinner, honor your promise to keep the kitchen clean - I don't cook in a dirty kitchen. In this way, we can teach natural consequences, not artificial punishments.

If other people are not willing to make up the deficit, no one would imagine he or she could get away with living irresponsibly. Reality would very quickly correct any such delusion. It is the intervention of others that allows some people to believe that theirs is to wish while it is the job of others to provide, theirs to dream while others must act, theirs to suffer while others must produce solutions, theirs to feel while others must think.

A Culture of Accountability


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jan 31, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=453

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