Does It Even Matter Whose Fault It Is?
A friend’s 9 year old daughter died in a car accident three years ago. A woman was texting and hit them broadside at an intersection.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the woman refused to accept liability for the accident for all these years. While my friend and her husband grieved, the woman (probably on the advice of an attorney) repeatedly denied any guilt in the incident.
I understand that attorneys are doing their duty to protect their clients from what (in California) could be up to 10 years in prison. In my own life, I observe that the person at fault in the accident that killed my two children has been mired in guilt from that moment in 1991 to this. The torment he puts himself through is dreadful. In a car accident, even if the deceased was a stranger to the driver at fault, the guilt and grief starts at once anyway, no matter what the attorney says. So…
Why do humans tend to resist accepting responsibility for our choices?
The tendency to shirk responsibility is universal among us. The choice to drink and drive; to text and drive; to speed while driving, etc. These are actions in which the driver was completely at choice.
The problem applies to much less significant matters, too.
- A client of mine refuses to take a solid piece of advice that I and several other reputable experts have given him, yet he continues to complain that his business is not thriving.
- A male friend was diagnosed with kidney stones and suffering in great pain, yet he chose not to take the medicine the doctor advised that could have allowed the stones to pass…and so he had to have laser surgery and all that expense and drama.
- I’ve lived in LA most of my life, and I’ve met countless people past their prime who are still “waiting to be discovered” as actors, despite the fact they never called back after an audition and have stopped taking classes or upgrading their photos.
Although I have a long way to go on this one myself, doesn’t it seem so much more reasonable to just think before we act, and take responsibility for the consequences?
In the 11th hour, a few days before the trial was set to begin, the texting woman accepted the charge of involuntary vehicular manslaughter, thus relieving my friend of having to testify about her daughter’s horrible death.
Everyone could have been spared significant expense and exacerbated heartbreak if she had just taken responsibility years ago.
The next time in my life that I find myself facing unpleasant circumstances, I choose to look carefully at how I participated in creating them.
I want to be conscious enough to take immediate responsibility for the parts that are my fault, and not take on responsibility for the parts that aren’t.
Would your life be more peaceful if you took responsibility for your own choices, and let go of responsibility for the parts that are not yours?
When we step up and take immediate responsibility for our actions and their consequences, we free ourselves from the dreadful middle-time angst while we’re trying to deny the lessons reality is trying to teach us.