Yi Xiang

A Young Writer in Search of His Voice

How to Take Responsibility of Solving Your Problems

I feel like I’ll be talking about a cliché in this post. It’s an old idea that you might have read about for one hundred times.

But I decide to write it anyway. This idea is so essential that I feel this blog would be incomplete without it.

Let’s start with why you should take responsibility of your own life.

Why You Should Take Responsibility of Solving Your Problems

Most posts dealing with this idea will talk about the life-transforming benefits of taking responsibilities.

I’ll attack from a different angle.

You see, I don’t believe you would learn to take responsibility by reading a post. If we will all do what’s good for us, none would be smoking.

Your reason of taking responsibility would not come from me talking about how good it is. It will only come from yourself. A good reason would be that you are desperate and you realize this is the only way to actually solve your problems. And you do want to solve them.

Man in distress

Because you can’t take it no more

Let me talk about how I decided to take responsibility of my own life.

I was transferred to another school in another city in my second year in senior school. I didn’t like it. I just wanted to hang out with the same old friends. A normal kid would be sad for months and then recovered, but not me.

On that day, on that train from Dazhou to Chengdu, I realized that I was not controlling my life. It was my life but I couldn’t decide where I go and what I do. I realized that I was powerless and I had to do something to take control of my life.

Then I spent years hating my parents and blaming them for ruining my life. I thought they were the enemy, and they were the reason why I couldn’t choose, why I felt bad all the time and why I wanted to kill myself.

It didn’t work. The more I believed I was powerless, the more I blamed my parents, which lead to more complaint about how powerless I was. And all these thoughts would make me angry and sad.

It was a vicious cycle. It was a dead end. And I constantly felt my life was over.

Then from the strangest books (books about tarot), I first learned the concept of taking responsibility of one’s life instead of blaming others. It opened my eyes. I felt I finally saw a solution to my problems. I was right.

It took me years but slowly I stopped blaming others. Somehow I felt I was still working on it. But anyway I’ve made tremendous progress. I would no longer stay awake in 2:00 am, thinking how someone ruined my life and want to kill myself for that.

Nobody wants to take responsibilities. Everybody wants to blame others. I have observed that for many people complaint is a way to deal with stress and painful emotions. Your boss yelled at you and made you feel bad? Complain about him and you’ll feel better because 1) you have expressed your bad feelings, it’s like crying without actually crying, 2) it’s not your fault.

Why would anyone introduce more pain by admitting his own mistakes, instead of complaining?

Because complaint doesn’t help solve your problem.

When your life is average, comfortable and without much trouble, after you complain about something, you’ll feel good the next day. Because overall, your life is not bad. Your bad feelings are temporary.

Now what if your life is not so great? What is there is a serious problem? Say, what if you are stuck in a job with minimal pay and you are not happy about it? No matter how much you complain, you will wake up feeling terrible. Or, what if you haven’t had sex for a year and is desperately wanting to have sex? Just blaming women won’t get you anywhere.

I have read the stories of many self-help authors, and I think I see a pattern. There is almost always a period where they are miserable and keep blaming others. Then after doing that for long enough time, they decide it doesn’t work, and they have to do something to make a real change.

You want to take responsibility of solving your problem, be it money problem, body problem, or sex problem, because that problem is a pain in the ass and no other way works. You tried beer, you tried complaint, maybe you even tried paying for someone to solve it for you. Nothing works. The problem is still there. You are left with only one choice: solve it yourself.

No more! You say to yourself. I shall suffer this no more! Then you get out of bed, then you start doing what you need to be doing.

It is never a logical decision that makes you quit your job and pursue your dream. It is the shitty feeling of being stuck in a stupid job for years straight.

How to Take Responsibility of Your Life

You will struggle with taking responsibility because naturally we want to be lazy and hate responsibility.

It’s also because changing yourself is generally hard.

So how do you do it?

I have a few tips.

Brainwash Yourself

This is how I did it. I brainwashed myself by becoming obsessed with the idea of taking responsibility. I read about it, I talked about it, I wrote about it. And overtime, it became something as sure to me as that the earth orbits round the sun.

You can begin by reading books and blogs about this idea. Almost all authentic writings on self-help would talk about this. And even if they’re not talking about how you are responsible, it is the underlying principle. When an author is talking about how to be better at relationships, how to quit your job, he is already implying that you are responsible for the change you want to see in your life.

Your average friends, however, will brainwash you into blaming others for your fault. Because they will not talk about how they overcame a problem, except when bragging. They will mostly talk about others. The boss, the society, the governments, etc. By constantly listening to them, your mental focus will slowly move from yourself to others. You may even become obsessed with how the government screws your life.

We are always under the influence of those surround us. You could make better friends. Or if you are an introvert like me, you could surround yourself by the words of good authors.

No matter how you do it, you need to make sure the idea of taking responsibility is constantly on your mind until it sticks.

Take Action to Solve Your Problem

This is the most effective way. The more you do to solve your problem, and the more problems you solve in this way, the more you are convinced that taking responsibility works. You don’t believe it because you’ve read about it or because a guru gives you this tip. You believe it because you know it works from your experience.

But what if you have no idea how to solve your problems?

In that case, what really happens is that you have stopped thinking. You are not thinking about how to solve your problem. Instead, you take it as a fact that you don’t know what to do.

So the first step is to start thinking again. Turn the statement into a question. Ask yourself, how you can solve this problem, or how you can begin. Then give an answer, you have to give an answer. Doesn’t matter if it’s absurd or not. Give an answer! Use your brain!

You may give all kinds of excuses, try to find a way to get around them.

“I can’t get this job because I lack the expertise.” Then how can you get the required expertise or find a way to get around that requirement?

“I can’t do this because I don’t have time and money.” Then where can you find time and money? What about cancelling that Netflix subscription? Skip the weekly happy beer time? Or quit smoking?

“I can’t meet good girls because I’m ugly.” Then find a way to improve your looks!

If you think hard enough, you can always find out what your next action to solve your problem is. Even if there really are things you can’t do.

You may even reach the conclusion that you have to give up. But even that is better than getting stuck thinking about how you can’t do something.

For several months In my last year in college, I believed I was doomed. I couldn’t graduate because I skipped too many classes. I was not willing to find a regular job. I lost my passion for working on my first blog that I started in 2009. And that blog didn’t make me money.

I got stuck. I felt there is no way out. My blog was going nowhere. My education was going nowhere. Only my girlfriend was going somewhere — somewhere without me.

Then somehow I moved forward. I finished the eBook that I started one year ago. I stopped working on my first blog. I started my second blog and planned to make money from it.

That plan didn’t work out. But that doesn’t matter. I took action, I got unstuck. That’s what matters.

Oh, and I learned Japanese and started working out.