The 3rd Pillar of Self-Esteem: Self-Responsibility

Self ResponsibilitySelf-Responsibility is a very powerful concept.  It means that I am willing to take responsibility for my actions, for reaching my goals and desires, for my well-being and my life! Nobody else can do this for me.

There are times in our lives when we feel down, think we are a victim, or life appears to be just “happening” to us. We might think: If only someone came to get me out of this. If only someone would make me happy. If only something would happen to make this go away. If only someone would really love me. If only someone could truly understand me…

The sobering truth is, no genie will appear to grant us our wishes, no prince or princess will come and rescue us, and no fairy godmother will wave her magic wand.

But here is the good news: You are your own genie, you are the prince or princess, and you are your own fairy godmother! You are the one you have been waiting for: That someone who can get you out of this, make you happy, love you and understand you is…yourself!

You will probably need help and support along the way (we all do), but you have to be the one who takes action to ask for and get the help and support you need.

Of course we don’t have control over everything. This is not about holding ourselves responsible for matters beyond our control. However, we have so much more power than we are aware of!

The power of this principle became even clearer to me in the context of holding resentment and blaming others. When I was younger, I held a lot of resentment against my parents. I blamed them for many things, including my own unhappiness. However, it got me nowhere. Resentment and blaming just kept me stuck. I just kept on wishing for things to be different.

Claiming self-responsibility meant that I had to start asking myself what I could take responsibility for. This is different from blaming yourself – it’s not about finding fault. It’s just asking yourself what role you are playing in this. In my case, I could take responsibility for not speaking up, for not sharing how I truly felt. Once I realized that, I was able to take action by having more open conversations. It was a process, but I was able to realize what lessons I could learn and what good could come from this, and I was finally able to let go.

Before, I had a very convenient story: I could see myself as a victim, feel sorry for myself, and wish for things to change magically or for someone to come and rescue me. But none of this helped me move forward. It just kept me where I was.

Wishing or blaming keeps you stuck. Taking self-responsibility helps you move forward.

Here are some questions that can help you kick-start this process:

Take a situation where you are angry at or resentful at someone (for example, your boss, your ex, your co-worker, a family member, etc.)

1. What is it you really want in this situation?

Maybe you want to feel respected. Or you want to be treated fairly. Or you want to be heard.


2.What actions or inaction can I be responsible for in this situation?

Maybe you are not speaking up. Or you are responding in anger. Or you are not taking care of yourself. Or you have been avoiding telling yourself the truth about something.

Please remember: Taking responsibility does not mean blaming yourself. It just means acknowledging your role in this situation with self-compassion.


3. What action can I now commit to in this situation to give myself what I really want?

For example, if you want to feel respected, you could respect yourself by drawing clear boundaries, seeking support that can help you, or asking for what you need.

Or if you want to be heard, you could decide to speak up more, change your approach, or get advice on how to best communicate something so you will be heard and understood.


Take a few moments to write down what answers come to you. Then read what you have written. What are you aware of now?

If you could accept that you are responsible for your own happiness, what would you go out and do?

This is the 3rd Pillar from Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s book “The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem.” For more on self-responsibility, see:

Manuela loves helping professional women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives! Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching and Personal Growth Workshops.




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  1. Tamela says:

    I got it!!! [laughing]


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