We see the world, not as it is, but as we are–or, as we are conditioned to see it (Stephen Covey). The world is a mirror by which is reflected back to us our own image. The distortions we see are the result of how we view ourselves which is affected by our conditioning or programming as well as our choices. We, as children, are taught many things about life, ourselves, and others–some are good and some are not. We still make decisions about what we will or will not go along with. We are taught right and wrong, good and bad, pretty and ugly, and desirable and undesirable. Yet, at some point we decide which of these to keep and which to discard along the way. We learn love, hate, trust, mistrust, truth, untruth, and so on. We also unlearn those things we decide are not in line with our personal evaluation or values. Years of research has sought, unsuccessfully, to clearly delineate between what is biologically determined versus what is environmentally determined without success. Since we are affected by environment from the instant of conception and are influenced even then by our mother’s intake and actions, it is nearly impossible to know for sure what is “us” on the inside (purely without the influence of outside factors) and what we have been taught to be. Regardless of what happens and when, we ultimately can impact ourselves and do have the ability to change what and who we are over time. We are not completely helpless to our circumstances although neither do we have total control. Just as an individual can play a hand of cards differently every time thus resulting in different outcomes based on the countless choices involved, so too can we take what life has dealt us and make choices to effect the outcome for ourselves. We do not get to decide many things about our lives however those things we can decide do influence our ultimate outcomes. It’s not justifiable to blame the end result on the one or two things that may be beyond our control while ignoring the hundreds of choices we made which were in our control. Personal responsibility is inherent in adult lives and if we continue to see ourselves as victims of circumstance then we will be a victim of circumstances. It will not, however, be the fault of circumstances (which has no living, breathing, deciding capacity) but will be our own personal consequences because we do have deciding capacity. We always have choices and those choices can and do impact our circumstances whether we face this truth or ignore it. Blame does not facilitate a mature, empowered, or fulfilling life. If you find yourself blaming others or circumstances for your lot in life, you are letting the reins of your life drag the ground. It may be time to take these reins into your own hands and, at the very least, try to steer your life the way you want it to go.