Taking Responsibility for my Part in a Fight

conscious parentingTaking responsibility is a critical relationship skill to learn if you are in long-term relationships. The quickest way out of any fight, is to acknowledge where I went awry. When I take responsibility for my part, you feel validated and there’s no longer a need to go on the offensive with me. This is the mature, conscious adult way. And, it is challenging.

Couples can really struggle with this one. It can be so tempting to sneak in some finger pointing thinking I’m taking responsibility. I might say “I feel like you….” And I actually think I am taking responsibility for my experience. I am not.

For example,

I feel like you are attacking me.” Will typically elicit a defensive response.
“I feel attacked.” Can’t be argued with. Responsible. Doesn’t mean you are being attacked, just means you are identifying a trigger that is about you.

“I feel that you are…” nope
“I feel discouraged.” Yes.
“They are messing with me.” nope
“I feel scared, attacked, and manipulated.” Yes.

When we keep our statements about ourselves and make that a primary practice, we can get to what needs attention and healing on our side. We relax out of the habit of making the other person the problem. The other person is doing their job—triggering you, so you can heal your unfinished business. Thank them and come back to you.

More tools here


  • Alyssa

    Reply Reply January 11, 2015

    I’ve worked hard to implement this kind of language in my relationship with my fiance, but it seems to aggrivate him.
    If I say something like, “I feel hurt when someone doesn’t value the work that I do,” I’m trying to make a broad statement about my feelings, without being accusatory or placing blame. But he tells me I’m being passive aggressive and that I should just tell him. Its like he wants me to accuse him, like he’s seeking out criticism from me, but he’s also extremely sensitive to criticism and often takes things personally. I just don’t know how to express my needs and feelings effectively to him in a way that he will receive well. I’ve started avoiding expressing my needs because I’m either met with defensiveness or indifference.

    • KR

      Reply Reply January 17, 2019

      I wonder if you could take even more responsibility in your statement- for instance “I feel hurt when *I perceive* that someone is not valuing the work I do”

    • Kai

      Reply Reply January 17, 2019

      I know that this is a super old comment, but I noticed that in reading your example statement, I actually felt slightly triggered. I think that your statement actually fits the ‘nope’ example in the blog post (“I feel that you are…” nope) because it seems to imply that the person you are speaking to is not valuing your work. (finger pointing)

      I wonder if you could take even more responsibility by saying something like “I feel hurt when *I perceive* that you are not valuing my work”.

  • Jill

    Reply Reply September 27, 2020

    I shared the concept with my boyfriend that it’s important to be face to face to discuss conflict. He agreed. However he is incapable of doing so. When I tried to communicate my feelings about his inability to communicate his feelings, he doesn’t want to go there. He wants to run away or get off the phone. He is angry and defensive although trying to be better. This has been going on for a year. I can’t do it anymore. Hopeless

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