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  • Nick

Are you Responsible? It can be complicated

Do you hold responsibility for people that you have no damn business doing so?

Responsibility is easy, you are responsible for yourself and that is pretty much it - oh maybe your children… and your partner… your family maybe? How about your second cousin? How about your dog? How about the war in Ukraine - are you responsible for the war in Ukraine at all?

How many times have you thought about saying something to a friend or a family member and said to yourself - I can’t say that to them because it will upset them, or I can’t go and see that film as they don’t like that actor? How about if you don’t like an actor and still you end up in a boring film because you don’t want to upset them (picking up a theme here)?

I have several clients who filter themselves; not a single word they speak is actually what they want to say. Another client will sacrifice their health to a point of exhaustion instead of telling an elderly relative that unfortunately they can’t take them shopping this week. The elderly relative is financially secure and has other people to ask, so they could get a cab, they could ask another person, but my client just can’t say no. The confusion for most external observers is baffling and logic states that their saying no isn’t a problem, but the thought and feeling attached for my client is fundamental to her sense of self.

That might sound like an extreme situation, but people live through hell just to avoid saying no. The reasons why people take on responsibility can be down to self-worth and/or the fear of fracturing and ending relationships and that fear can be so strong that we start putting in strategies to prevent it. In addition, fear of being seen as mean or selfish, maybe ingrained in us from childhood and be a powerful retardant to be honest.

The fear of upsetting someone or fear that your words will make people upset or angry makes me want to ask a rather simple question – says who? Who says that what you say will upset them? Who says that they will fly off the handle if you actually say what you want? And, even if they did, why is that your responsibility? If you honestly feel a certain way, then tell the other person how you feel, how they react and behave isn’t your responsibility.

There is a caveat here, in that with some people, history has taught them not to speak honestly; a history of being shut down, of abuse or being dismissed or shamed. If that is how it feels for you then maybe, we should talk as that could be signs of more troubling behaviour.

We all have a bit of self-doubt from time to time but if you carry on putting other people before your own best interests then the problem is probably much deeper; that you are acting on instinct and not thinking about what you are doing. Maybe as a test, ask yourself ‘what would it feel like to say no?’ and if the answer brings unsettling feelings then I would suggest you aren’t making a conscious decision and you aren’t in control. Seriously, it is time to talk about breaking this down and giving you back control of your life.

There is hope, that you can say ‘no’ and your world doesn’t fall apart; I know that and deep down you do to, as people say no to you all the time and you still love people and you still talk to them.

At The Mind Mechanics, we offer bespoke and expert therapy in the Evesham and Drotwich areas. We offer face-to-face and online session for individuals and couples who are struggling. We offer a 30-minute free session so you can get an idea of what counselling is like. Book directly below or give us a call on 01386 571 114 or 01905 671 264

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