Being responsible is a good thing, but how do you know when you have tipped the scales into over-responsibility? Do you trust others to make their own decisions? Do you feel responsible for things that are out of your control? Do you feel that you are the only, or the most, responsible person in your life? Are you healthy? Do you nurture yourself or run around trying to make everything perfect?
Definition of Responsibility
Dictionary.com does not have a definition of over-responsibility; however, their definition of responsible includes being accountable for one’s actions and decisions, and being the agent or cause (of some action).
My definition of responsible is consciously making healthy choices and compassionately allowing others to make choices for themselves; being the healthy change agent in your life.
“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Over-Responsibility and Trust
I believe over-responsibility and trust are correlated.
– Do you trust that you can make good choices for yourself?
– Do you trust that you can handle the choices of others?
– Do you trust that everyone is doing their very best?
– Do you feel responsible for the feelings, thoughts, choices, or outcomes of others?
– Do you trust in an abundant universe?
When there is a lack of trust there is often a need to control and move in to over-responsibility.
“Forcing an issue often spoils the desired outcome.” Abraham Lincoln
Over-responsibility has the essence of control, force (versus flow), fear, and lack of trust (in yourself, others, the universe). This is very different from offering assistance, or being of service, to yourself and others. In fact, being of service to others is part of a healthy and rewarding life. As discussed in “The Volunteer Wellness Effect”, the higher your serving consciousness (in other words, the less your ego is involved), the greater the wellness effect for others…and for you.
Over-responsibility is ego-driven and a sure path to burn out.
When are you Being Over-Responsible?
You are being over-responsible when you:
– Take responsibility for the feelings and choices of others
– Judge the decisions, feelings, and thoughts of others
– Take credit (good or bad) for others
– Give unsolicited advice (verbally or non-verbally!)
– Compromise what you believe is healthy for you
– Blame others for your life’s choices, situations, or results
Responsible Actions to Assist others:
It is natural for us to want to assist others. Here are ways that you can assist others without being over-responsible:
– If someone CAN do something, let them (regardless of their age or the situation)
– Genuinely offer assistance to others (without attachment to the outcome and without judgments)
– Follow through with your assistance
– Remember that assistance does not have to be something huge- it could be a smile or sitting in silence with someone
– Provide input (not advice) if asked
– Let others have their experience- people learn, and build self-esteem and self-confidence by experience
People grow by effort- do you want someone to grow or do you want to control? Look at how beautifully the woman in the picture is allowing the little girl to have her experience while silently holding for her.
Very Smart Girls are responsible for themselves and compassionate towards others.
photo credit: nlnnet