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  • SuePattonThoele

Accepting Responsibility



A sure sign of strength and maturity is the ability to accept responsibility for being at fault—but only when you actually are at fault. Unfortunately, after eons of training, women sometimes still feel obligated to take blame that isn’t theirs in order to keep the peace, not “make mountains out of a molehills,” smooth things over, protect someone’s ego, or make things easier for the children. Certainly, this kind of behavior creates a relationship kiln, but not one that is strengthening, creates beauty, or inspires growth. Although some partners may allow another to take responsibility for their mistakes in order to save face, that decision undermines both the relationship and the people in it.


If you are choosing to take unwarranted responsibility, or are in a relationship with someone who needs to be right all the time and casts blame on you, how do you feel? Strong and empowered does not spring to my mind. When you are hurt and the person responsible refuses to admit fault or, even worse, tries to make it your fault, how does that feel? In such situations, I feel frustrated, dismissed, angry, sad, less trusting, and more defensive. Resentments mushroom and relationships flounder when only one person is capable of culpability. When both people are willing to be accountable, things can usually be worked out. As therapist and author Rick Hanson says, “When someone admits fault to me, I feel safer, on more solid ground, more at ease, warmer toward them and more willing to admit faults myself.”


If you are one who has an inordinate need to be right, it would be wise to question what insecurities and vulnerabilities may be hiding behind that necessity. To come into your full strength and empowerment, gently explore the underlying feelings causing you to resist taking responsibility for being at fault. Awareness provides insight that can open a path toward healing.


A word of caution: If you fear for your safety in a relationship and feel compelled to accept blame in order to prevent emotional or physical abuse, I urge you to seek help. Please don’t try to go it alone. Accepting and taking responsibility for your fair share show strength, maturity, and self-confidence.


During your day...


  • Without judgment, pause and reflect on your feelings if you want to dodge taking responsibility for your actions.

  • Do the same if you are aware of wanting to take unwarranted responsibility.

  • Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, especially


A mistake is simply another way of doing things.

—E. B. White

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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