The Virtue of Ownership2 min read

Ownership is the attitude that, “I am responsible for my life, my wellbeing, and my goals”. Ownership is power. You can never change anything that you don’t take responsibility for. 

The opposite of ownership is victimization, or feeling yourself to be a victim. It keeps you stuck, because you feel you have no control, no power to change things. You can only blame, be miserable, and play “poor me”, hoping others will help you.

Ownership is not “victim blaming”. Whatever other people did that was wrong is their responsibility, and they need to pay for it. Yet your wellbeing is ultimately your own responsibility. In this scenario, ownership is about taking responsibility for your life, your emotions and your healing process. It means that you are not waiting for an apology before you can move on. You are not waiting for anything outside of you—you are taking charge and moving forward by yourself.

Self-discipline starts with ownership and taking responsibility for your life. The fruits of it are achievement, wellbeing, and happiness. The fruits of victimization are self-pity, resentment, and a limited life.

If you were fully stuck in a victim mentality, you’d likely never have picked up this book. Yet there might still be some traces of victimhood somewhere in your life. Here are a few questions to help you dig deeper:

  • How am I excusing myself for lack of progress or change?
  • How is my situation “not my fault”?
  • Do I blame others for bad things that happened in my life?
  • On a scale from one to ten, how much of a complainer am I?
  • Do I often dwell on thoughts of having suffered injustice?

It is easy to get into a victim mentality, especially if you have had experiences of trauma, betrayal, or being manipulated. Be that as it may, it is never a good place to remain in. 

There are many things in life we cannot control—the thoughts and reactions of other people, the weather, politics, external events, etc. These things are just happening; they are not happening to you. It is better to simply acknowledge these things, then focus on what you can control: the stories you tell yourself, the decisions you make, the actions you take. This is your only business.

You do not need to go on a guilt trip or shame trip in order to take responsibility. That is not what it’s about. To have ownership, it is enough that you see how you have contributed to the current state of things, and how you are able to change it. Then you take action, self-disciplined action, in that direction.

Own your life by taking full responsibility for your decisions and actions. Focus on what you can control and accept the rest. Just don’t get caught up in complaining, blaming, and a victim mentality. Don’t cause needless suffering for yourself.

Without ownership, your aspiration is just wishful thinking, your awareness is incomplete, and your action, is half-hearted. To take control of your life, then, begin by taking ownership.

This article is a summary of key ideas taken from Chapter 6 of Mindful Self-Discipline. To dive deeper, get the book or audiobook.


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