Personal Responsibility: Taking Ownership of Your Recovery

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Recovery is a process that each individual must be ready and willing to work on to be successful. Taking ownership and having a sense of personal responsibility are both key factors of successful recovery from trauma or addiction. Accepting personal responsibility for the recovery process is also one of the signs that a person is truly ready to begin healing.

You may feel defensive when hearing about taking responsibility and ownership. After all, circumstances leading up to addiction and trauma are so complex and have multiple causes. How can we take responsibility for things that are not our fault? Are we not victims suffering from the actions of others that triggered our traumas and addictions? Taking ownership of recovery does not mean you are responsible for events that may have happened to you. Ownership simply means that you have the power to not let those events bring you down again in the future.

The “Blame Game”

Why is the “blame game” so detrimental to those in recovery? Blaming transfers the responsibility of our behaviors onto others. When we assign blame, we are merely inhibiting ourselves from creating solutions that lead to recovery. For example, maybe you began drinking after being laid off. “Downsizing was to blame for my drinking, not me!” When taking personal responsibility, however, the blame game is not useful. Blame disempowers us from finding solutions because we are not correctly identifying the problems. Taking ownership of our recovery means accepting the circumstances for what they are. Even if being laid off wasn’t your fault, it still happened. So what will you do with these new circumstances and challenges? 

Identifying the Problem

When bad things happen, we need to first identify how the event affected us. In the example of being laid off, our source of income was taken from us unexpectedly. Our routine was shaken up, our social relationships from work were disrupted, and we now feel like we have no reason to get out of bed each day. These problems are real and severe. Losing a job can impact so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. For those of us who struggle with addiction, an event like this could trigger alcohol or substance use

Blaming others, however, serves no purpose to us — it only disempowers us. Blaming takes away our time and energy to fantasize about changing circumstances beyond our control. When we scatter our energy toward blaming others, we give others all the power. When we play the blame game, we begin to feel that the world is a cruel and unfair place. The problems that we can resolve, however, are what the bad event caused — not the event itself. We cannot change the past, but we can build our resolve by taking responsibility for our current circumstances. For those recovering from traumatic events, remember that while you cannot change what happened to you, you can resolve the feelings and deal with the impact the event has had on our lives. There is hope for change and improvement.

Empowering Ourselves by Finding Solutions

Once we realize the problem is not the event itself, but the effects of the event, we can begin to take ownership and responsibility for recovery. Blaming gives the responsibility to others: “If they hadn’t fired me, I wouldn’t be dealing with this!” Ownership, however, gives us our power back. Once your attitude progresses from blaming to accepting, you can begin finding solutions. Identify how the event affected you, instead of focusing on the event itself. For example:

“I was laid off and now it’s my responsibility to find a new source of income. What are some solutions? Perhaps I am eligible for unemployment compensation to help me in the short term. I can update my resume and search for new jobs. I can ask friends or family if they have chores I can help with for extra cash. I can sell some items in my home I no longer use. I’ll get through this.” 

It’s easy to fuel and justify the cycle of addictive behavior by blaming others. Empower yourself by accepting what has happened and learning how to overcome the problems presented by the event.

Accepting Responsibility and Taking Ownership of Traumatic Experiences

Trauma is especially difficult to accept. After all, what happened to you was likely not your fault in any way. Taking ownership is not the same as assigning blame to yourself for a traumatic event. Taking ownership means that you realize you are responsible for your recovery. You are responsible for taking the steps necessary to heal from the experience. You are brave enough to search for solutions and reach out for help. Always remember this — you can recover from traumatic experiences if you’re ready to take on the challenge of doing so.

Do you feel like the world is against you or out to get you? Does it seem like you have no control over your life because of the bad things that have happened to you? Is everything working against you and you don’t know where to turn? The Kimberly Center is here to help you change your mindset, so you can change your life. Empowering yourself to take ownership of your recovery is the first step toward attaining wellness. At The Kimberly Center, you can learn to accept yourself in a safe environment while meeting others who have been through similar challenges. Located in beautiful Ft. Myers, Florida, we offer a wide variety of services and will work with you to develop a program that suits your unique needs. We welcome men and women who are struggling with addiction and/or mental health issues. Let’s begin your journey to a happier and healthier life together. Call us today at (855) 452-3683.


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