What You Are and Are Not Responsible For

I often hear from people the misconception that they are responsible for way more things than they actually are. And by taking on responsibility for things that are not in fact our obligation, we can experience symptoms of stress, burn-out, resentment, depression, codependency, etc. We have enough on our plate as it is trying to take care of ourselves.

Since when did you become the proprietor of other people's feelings, reactions, behaviors or duties? Who taught you that you have to take care of everyone else instead of yourself? Was it modeled to you by your parents? Did someone tell you you are responsible for your boyfriend's feelings, your mother's alcohol abuse, your friend's self-esteem? I'm here to tell you that you are not responsible for anyone else or anything else other than you, your emotions, your reactions and your behaviors. Period. End of story.

Let me simply break down for you the things that you are and are not responsible for:


  • What you say

  • What you do

  • How you feel

  • Your emotional reactions

  • Your mental, emotional and physical health


  • Other people's emotional reactions

  • How other people feel

  • What other people say

  • What other people do

  • What other people think of you

More specifically:

  • The state of your parents' (or any other loved ones') marriage or relationship

  • Solving others' arguments

  • Fulfilling a role in society that either your parents or someone else told you you had to accomplish

  • Another person's health

  • The consequences of another person's actions/choices

  • Listening to other people's complaints

  • Another person's wellbeing

  • Another person's alcohol or substance abuse

  • How someone spends their money

  • Another person's decisions

  • Taking on another person's shift or duties at work

  • Another person's self-esteem

  • Another person feeling left out

I could go on and on. I think you get the gist.

Given this information, take some time to write out what people, things or areas in your life you have been assuming responsibility for that do not fall within the "yes" category. Although it takes time and consistency to break any thought or behavioral pattern, by becoming more aware of what your patterns are, you can begin to change them. Codependency is the chronic neglect of self. How can you no longer neglect yourself?

The flip side of this is gaining the understanding that no one else is therefore responsible for how you feel, what you do or say, or how you act. No one can make you feel any type of way. No one can force you to do anything. Your feelings (and other people's) are always valid. However, think about what aspects of yourself/your life have you been blaming on others?

Every person is responsible for their own emotions. And they are the only person responsible for their emotions. Just as we are the only one responsible for our actions. We cannot expect to change how somebody else feels or change how or what they think. The only person who can do that is themselves. By adopting this truth, your relationships and overall wellbeing can improve drastically.

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