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Taking Responsibility Nathaniel Branden Summary



What do you do when things don’t go your way? Do you blame things and other people? Or do you take responsibility for them? Let’s say you are in a broken relationship with your coworker or manager. Would you wait for the other person to take initiative and fix the issue? You know, one of the biggest mistakes in life is usually waiting for someone else to come and help. But very often you'll see, no help comes. I toke a positive psychology class from Harvard professor, Tal ben sharer which I totally loved and I encourage everyone to take it. Ben-Shaher talked about the concept of self-responsibility which he had learned from Nathaniel Branden. And if you don’t know Nathaniel Branden, he is basically the father of self-esteem. In his book, Taking Responsibility, Nathaniel Branden says, taking responsibility is the first step to developing a healthy sense of self and that we internalize the idea of taking responsibility when we realize, “no one is coming.” It’s a liberating concept. Help is not coming. The responsibility is yours, and it starts with developing a belief or habit of mind that you, as an individual, are accountable for the quality and timeliness of an outcome, even when you’re working with others.


Nathaniel Branden says if you don’t take responsibility, you won’t feel like you control your life—so you can’t feel capable or worthy. For example, if you don’t take responsibility for your finances as an adult and instead rely on your parents to help you financially at the time of a crisis, you basically will look outside for someone else to come and help you every time you mess up. And because you always look for other's help, you will not feel as if you are in control of your life.


Branden also says that taking responsibility compels us to treat others well. When you recognize that you have ownership over your choices, you also recognize that others have ownership over their choices. Therefore, you don’t treat others as tools for accomplishing your goals: If you want them to do something, you give reasons that appeal to them. For example, if you ask your parents to babysit your kids, you frame it as an opportunity for them to spend time with their grandkids—and you don’t get mad if they have other plans instead.


Basically taking responsibility means taking ownership in all areas of your life. You stop blaming external factors and start to realize that your life and well-being depend only on you taking the right actions and no one is coming to help.

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