We all have heard of the late Maya Angelou’s powerful quote, “When you know better, you do better.” But that “knowing better” part of the quote can be a tough upward battle to achieve but we have to learn to face the challenge no matter how ugly it may get. I’ve learned that in order to truly know better in order to do better, you have to want to know better and you have to want to do better.

Once you want it bad enough, you will do whatever it is that you have to do in order to avoid a repeat cycle of pain, hurt, anger, guilt or frustration. When we make a mistake in our lives or experience a challenging time then it is human nature to place blame on others. When someone is going through a divorce, then it’s really easy (and once again natural human nature) to blame your spouse for your mean, hurtful and vindictive behavior. It’s easy to blame the absence of your father for your issues with bad relationships. It’s easy to blame your sister for your dysfunctional relationship with her and it’s easy to blame your business partner for the failure of your business.

This is what I like to call ordinary, basic human behavior because it has been happening since the very beginning of time. We all know the story of Adam and Eve and when Adam ate the fruit, he didn’t say “I take full responsibility for my part in the mess” – no, he blamed it “on the woman that God gave him.” See, since the beginning of time, we have had a problem with owning our part of our mess. It is so easy to see the wrongdoing of others but another thing to actually take the time to think of how we played a role.

Of course I am not saying that EVERYTHING is your fault and yes others are surely involved and they have fault too but in order to really know better and do better in life and learn from our negative history to achieve a successful future it is crucial to fully own your part of the mess. I noticed that if we do own our part, it tends to be a small piece of the pie. That is not what I am talking about, I am talking about really taking the time to sit with yourself and write down what role you played.

Perhaps your role in your business partner making bad deals was that you were not responsible enough to double check your accounting numbers or you failed to listen to your gut about going into business with this person in the first place. Or perhaps your role in your dysfunctional relationship with your sister was that you judged her and rejected her so in turn she was mean to you out of her pain. Perhaps you did not listen to the wisdom of your friends and family when they warned you about getting married after only six months, but you were so fixed on proving them wrong that you did it anyway and unfortunately you are experiencing a painful divorce. Maybe you tried to mask your insecurity by spending more than you had so that you can appear to everyone else that you were doing well and now you are in debt.

It is so easy to be enamored with our part of the story and run to tell anyone who will listen, that we fail to stop and analyze our part of the mess.

I want us as women to own our ish! True success is not about all that you attain and achieve, it’s about the person who you become in the process. Who cares if you have all the success of the world but you fail to have a good character. Character is those moral attributes that control your actions and reactions. Therefore, you are no better than the person who has hurt you if you choose to act hurtful back – take ownership for your part.

We become servants to the choices that we make. We can choose true freedom, forgiveness, responsibility or we can choose anger, the blame game and bitterness.

So how can you begin to own your ish? Start by drawing a circle and inside of that circle, I want you to draw your “slices” of the mess. Under that circle, write down what those slices represent in full sentences. Take the time to do this exercise with an honest and pure heart. If you discover something that you did not see before then seek guidance on how you can learn from it and deal with it in a healthy way.

I know that it’s natural to blame others but if we truly want to become women who are bold, successful and embracing our legacy then we have to learn to be true with ourselves and work on first becoming the person we want to be so we can then honor what we have been called to do.

You attract who you become and it’s time to do better.




Maria I. Melendez