Very early in my recovery I came to understand and accept that my life had become completely unmanageable and it was falling apart because of my addictions. I saw – finally and clearly – that regardless of all the reasons or excuses for why I had ended up in that exact place, ultimately it was going to be up to me to take responsibility for myself if I wanted to escape the pain.

And thus began my journey in recovery of learning the skill of taking responsibility.

What I’ve learned over the years is that when there’s a discrepancy between where I am and where I want to be, the first thing I need to do is take ownership and examine whether or not I’m taking responsibility for where I’m at. Truth be told it’s usually a pretty uncomfortable thing to do.  But there is hope! When I view the world through the lens of responsibility, it provides me with an opportunity to be a powerful co-creator in my life and circumstances. It opens me up to the possibility of a limitless future in creating the life of my dreams.

Good news, right? So, how do I do it?


What I’ve come to learn is that sometimes the pain I feel is the cost of my not taking responsibility. I can usually recognize this type of pain if I am feeling resentful or if I’m blaming and pointing my finger at someone else. If I see myself as a victim, I’m making someone outside of myself responsible for the cause of my problems. Resentment, blame, victimhood – these are the clearest signs that I’m not taking responsibility.

Let me provide a recent example. I found my recovery through a Twelve Step program – it’s been an instrumental piece of my recovery. Over the past year or so, I have very seriously considered leaving it. You know – because of “them.” Even after 11 years, that addict inside who is always with me and speaks to me in my own voice started telling me that the problem wasn’t with me, but with the people in the rooms.

I didn’t listen to the voice that told me to leave. It took some effort but I did remember that when I showed up in the rooms of the program, I didn’t stay because someone told me I had to stay here (although some people told me I had to stay). I didn’t come here to make friends (although what a bonus and a blessing that has been!). I came here because my misery brought me here. I didn’t come here because of you and your pain, I came here because of my pain and eventually I stayed because the tools I was being shown worked. So when the voice started to tell me to run, I stopped and listened for another voice. I got still enough to hear my voice of love say, “why the hell would you leave because of other people’s opinions or perceptions? Whose journey are you walking, yours – or theirs?” And then I listened to the voice that said “what are you responsible for in this situation?”

When I move into the perspective of taking responsibility, I start to accept that although I may not have consciously created all of the circumstances that brought me here (wherever “here” is) I begin to see that I did in fact play a role in creating the situation as it is. I begin to see that my beliefs, decisions, actions or excuses played a part in bringing me to this very moment.


Here’s where the magic happens! I have the ability to change the trajectory of my life at any given moment through the gift of choice.

Now, it’s important to note (and I cannot emphasize this enough) that all of our choices impact our future. There’s no such thing as choices that matter or choices that don’t.

I do my best to stay conscious of every choice I make (some days it’s easier than others) and I take note of how making a choice affects my mood or how it makes me feel about myself. For example: do I feel happy and calm about this decision or do I feel stressed and uncomfortable? Am I staying in integrity with myself? Am I doing what I said I was going to do? And this applies whether it’s about calling someone back when I said I was going to, or if I have just committed to making healthier food choices.

Staying aware of my decisions and/or excuses and recognizing whether it’s about love and self-care or fear and insecurity are pretty clear indicators of whether I’m living in alignment with the vision I have for my life and moving towards the possibilities of the future. Or not.


Taking responsibility and being conscious of my choices is great – but I find that I have to round things out by cultivating faith. I experience a tremendous amount of peace when I am firm in the belief that everything is happening “for” me and not “to” me.  I just have to believe that every situation is an opportunity for me to learn. Perhaps it’s an old wound that still needs to be healed or maybe it’s about letting my voice be heard but the point is if I believe that everyone is put on my path for the evolution of my soul and that everyone has something to teach me whether through pain or joy, then my heart is open to learning what I need to learn. And that’s not to say that it might not sting, but the moment I remember it’s happening for me, ahhhhhhh! Relief.

Writing about this is further evidence (to me) about my willingness to be completely vulnerable, at least with myself. Well – and with all of you, I have come to the understanding that by trusting the process and acting in alignment with the vision I have for my life, my Higher Power will provide me with all that I need. And then some.

Author bio: 

Debra is a woman in long-term recovery, a Certified Professional Recovery and Life Coach, a loving wife and mother to four amazing children. Next to ensuring the happiness of her family, Debra’s greatest passion is supporting women in recovery to seek and live the very best version of themselves. A strong believer in open-mindedness, Debra draws on her own life experiences of finding self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love to guide women through their sacred and imperfect journeys into and through recovery. For more about Debra, visit her Facebook page, Debra Morrison, CPRC. (Debra is also the younger sister of Dawn Nickel of She Recovers.)


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