Response-able does not mean taking the blame.
Whenever someone is said to be responsible, he or she is the one who gets the blame when something goes wrong. No one wants that kind of responsibility, and we tend to see the person who takes that on voluntarily as a kind of heroic martyr.
But each of us is response-able as much as we allow ourselves to be. Being response-able means that we consciously take action rather than reacting without thought. Being response-able means that we have power, that we use our will to craft a response to a circumstance instead of cowering powerlessly or giving up in desperation. Being response-able means listening and learning what the situation is so that we are able to respond appropriately.
Being too angry, too lonely, too hungry or too tired, (HALT is the acronym used by 12-steppers) keeps us from being able to respond. Instead we lash out or renege or give up. Being too wrapped up in our own personal drama, which is often whipped into a froth by our egos, keeps us from being able to find a reasonable response.
While a reaction is sometimes necessary to a situation, it works best when the situation has been planned for, and the reaction practiced, such as in a fire drill. Being responsible means planning what kind of response might be needed. That is why leaders need training, why being a supervisor is different from a line worker. Both are responsible, but one must plan further ahead.
Reducing the stress in one’s life makes one more response-able. Everyone gets into the squirrel cage at one time or another, running on the spinning wheel and getting nowhere. The key is to recognize what is happening, stop, take a breath, and do something else to break the chains of a thought-pattern that keeps us running in circles.
The fight-or-flight response we have to immediate stress gets in our way when facing long-term issues. Being able to resist the adrenaline rush to run away or to freeze gives you brainpower to think. Engaging the brainpower lets you direct the muscles to respond. You become response-able.
Being response-able is most important when you are responsible for yourself and others.