The Power of Teshuvah – Day 31

Day 31

Strategy 8: Accept Responsibility: Who, Me?

Rationale: I can’t help it. I was born with this trait … I was brought up this way … It’s the culture around me … It’s my neighborhood … It’s my family … It’s my job … It’s my genes.

Reality: If we transgress one of Hashem’s commandments, our first reaction should be one of remorse, combined with an effort to remedy the damage and avoid repeating the sin. But it is impossible to have remorse for something unless we feel responsible for it. If a person believes that circumstances “forced” his actions, he is actually blaming Hashem, Who creates all circumstances, rather than himself, the one who committed the sin.

A person who blames others relinquishes the power he has to determine the course of his own life. He allows himself to become a slave of circumstance, blown wherever the wind will carry him. However, a person who accepts personal responsibility recognizes the power of choice that God put into his hands, and makes an effort to build a good life utilizing that power. Accepting personal responsibility includes:

Acknowledging that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life.
Accepting the fact that you choose your feelings and thoughts.
Accepting that you choose the direction for your life.
Realizing that you cannot blame others for the choices you have made.
Realizing that you have the power to determine your reaction to any events or actions directed at you, no matter how negative they seem.
Refusing to indulge in self-pity, but rather, taking charge of your life and giving it direction and reason.
Internalizing that God equips each person to perfection. If He did not equip you with a certain asset or trait, then that trait cannot help you achieve your potential.
Taking an honest inventory of your strengths, abilities, talents, virtues, and positive points.
Developing positive, self-affirming, self-talk scripts to enhance your personal development and growth.
Letting go of blame and anger toward people in your past; realizing that they did the best they could, given the limitations of their knowledge, background, and awareness.

When a person takes these points to heart, he has prepared his mind to embark on teshuvah. The next step is to determine what specific area of his life he is ready to tackle. He can now experience the exhilaration of knowing that some stubborn problem, previously blamed on circumstance, is not beyond his ability to improve. Like a person setting out on a mountain hike, one can predict that the road ahead will be daunting, but the view from the top will be worth the climb!

Points to Ponder:

      • One tends to reject personal responsibility for wrongs committed or troubles that beset him.
      • Without taking responsibility for one’s actions, the remorse that leads to teshuvah and change cannot arise.
      • All aspects of accepting personal responsibility are rooted in our God-given power of free will.

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