Are you too responsible? Not responsible enough?
We often associate responsibility with seriousness, effort, and duty. But finding true responsibility can offer us great power, because it is simply the ability to respond.
Though it is easy to get caught up in “shoulds,” “have tos,” and habits, we always have a choice how we respond. When we get stuck, it may be because we are being responsible for things we aren’t truly responsible for, and irresponsible when it comes to our true values and purpose.
To begin to find your true responsibility, try asking these questions about your life as it is now:
- To what or to whom are you responsible?
- What motivates you to be responsible?
Now, things get interesting.
For example, I have known people who crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” but were totally irresponsible when it came to earning a living. Others take care of everyone around them but cannot manage their own emotions.
When we are in balance, we are responsible according to our core values. When we are stuck in (often unconscious) worldviews that are not presently true for us, our sense of responsibility will accommodate those beliefs and we may suffer the consequences.
What are some of the ways responsibility gets distorted?
1). To avoid getting punished.
Consider these examples:
- Rushing to get to work or school on time, not because you want to be there, but so you won’t jeopardize your salary or good grades.
- Doing things you don’t want to do to avoid criticism from a family member, partner or friend.
- Rehearsing a conversation in your head 50 times before you have it, so you don’t look stupid.
2). To be validated, loved, accepted.
This may include:
- Taking care of others in inappropriate ways, for example where they don’t want it, or where this compromises your values or self-care.
- Becoming a performer, leader, healer, fire fighter, or other “super-hero”-type position, unless done in an attitude of service and greater purpose.
- Trying desperately to “fit in,” for example buying a fancy car or adopting certain values because others in your community do.
3). To control our environments
Many of us grew up in chaotic environments, for example where we moved a lot, where caregivers were abusive or unpredictable, or where those who were supposed to be responsible were not.
In such cases we may have assumed the role of parent while we were still children, and or we may have become hyper-responsible about things we could control in attempt to compensate for things we couldn’t.
Today, we may still be responding as if those conditions still exist, when in fact they don’t. For example, obsessions, compulsions, and taking care of others inappropriately all may fall under this category.
Do any of these examples sound familiar? Would you like to change your relationship to responsibility?
If so, try this:
Make a list of your core values and priorities.
- Ask yourself, “What can I do today to be more responsible in honoring these values and fulfilling these priorities?”
- Ask yourself: “What am I currently doing that conflicts with my values and priorities?”
- In daily life, pay attention when you feel a sense of burden or when things don’t pan out in fulfilling ways. Check in right then and ask, “To what or to whom am I being responsible right now and according to what motivation?” If your answer makes you groan, what can you do instead? You choose!
copyright 2007 Ann O’Brien- All Rights Reserved.