Blame, Responsibility, React, Respond

Blame is useless. It aids nothing and no one. Blaming yourself brings you down and makes you less able to solve whatever the problem is. Blaming others does the same to them. Blaming someone else for a problem might give you a transient sense that since it’s not your fault, you don’t need to act. As a result, no action is taken and the problem remains unresolved.

Responsibility is a whole different animal. Taking responsibility is not the same as accepting blame, or taking on the fault. The person who takes responsibility is simply the person who is “response-able”… who can act in response to the problem. That gives you power and helps resolve matters, instead of weakening you.

Respond and react are two more words that frequently get mixed up in people’s minds. To be reactionary is to let the situation and/or upset other people drive your actions, taking you out of the control seat. To respond implies a reasoned, considered or at least helpful action that works toward resolving the problem.

I think Reginald Bretnor expressed it well in his little-known novel, Gilpin’s Space. This joyous piece of fiction is well worth tracking down, by the way. He’s better known as the author of the Feghoot series, and the Papa Schimmelhorn short stories. In Gilpin’s Space he says that when a fragile piece of crystal is struck by a blow, it has no choice but to resonate, sometimes shattering in the process. If you can learn not to resonate helplessly with the blows that come along with being alive, you have a better chance of managing them.

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