When Responsibility Feels Heavy

What beliefs do you hold around ‘responsibility’? Does responsibility mean duty and obligation? Are only ‘adults’ responsible? Is responsibility a burden? An honor? Are we only honorable when we take responsibility? Do you feel satisfaction after doing something ‘responsible’? Does it make you a good person when you ‘take responsibility’ for others?

Our beliefs about responsibility often show up in our conversations; ‘he is overly-responsible’, ‘when will she grow up and be responsible?’, ‘there is no way are you going to get them to take responsibility for that’. Responsibility is often tied to taking care of or being dutiful to others – whether we like it or not. In fact, many of us feel justified and righteous when we can be ‘responsible’ for everyone else and that is where our ‘value’ comes from. I once knew a man whose father, brother, and wife all had huge health issues. His beliefs about responsibility had him quit his job and focus on taking care of everyone else. He felt bitter, powerless, and underappreciated by those he cared for yet his beliefs about ‘responsibility’ told him that this is the only ‘honorable’ thing to do.

What if responsibility meant ‘our ability to respond in loving ways to whatever is happening moment to moment’? And what if those loving ways are about being loving to ourselves – not everyone else? When we remember that we are creating our own reality, then there is no need to be ‘responsible’ for others. We are the creator in our own lives and we are responsible for our own ‘response’ to what we are creating. Everyone else has the same ability to respond. Of course, we still tend to the needs of our children and those that need help with what they cannot do for themselves.  However, our aim is to empower them to ‘respond’ to each moment on their own, not continuing to do for them what they can do for themselves.

What if we actually undermine others when we try and take responsibility for them? What if they are fully capable of having their own response and dealing with the consequences of their choices? What if their choices didn’t really affect you and you could take care of your own needs? Could you let them ‘be responsible’ for themselves then?

What if we replaced responsible with respond-able? Our ability to respond. What would be the new skills required to be fully respond-able?

First, we need to be ‘here’. Present enough inside of ourselves to experience what is happening inside of us in the moment it is happening. Not lost in the past or focused on the future in our minds, but here, now. Once we are here, we can become aware of what feels good inside and what doesn’t including our thoughts, words, feelings, behaviors, and responses to others. Only we know what is OK and what is not OK for us. From this place inside, we get to choose what feels best for us. THAT is our responsibility. Choosing what feels best for us, moment-to-moment. Asking for what we want and saying no to what we don’t want, clearly and lovingly, without attachment to the outcome. Feeling light, fully respond-able… truly empowered.

In what ways can you be respond-able to what feels best to you today?


Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
WENDY is passionate about enabling individuals, organizations and communities to value themselves and each other in the ongoing process of change. Wendy has guided hundreds of individuals and over 750+ public and private sector organizations to achieve tangible increases in impact and performance. Her successful practice in mentoring and coaching has led to authorship of the book, ‘Live a Life You Love and Make a Living Doing It’. Over the last 30 years, Wendy’s skills have been honed in leadership roles at MTV Networks, The Rensselaerville Institute, and a variety of community based projects in her town. In 2015 she launched BeliefWorks and offers Belief Coaching as a way to address the root cause of what limits the results we can achieve both personally and professionally. This is an 'upstream' solution to change. Instead of changing limiting behavior, she focuses on changing the limiting beliefs that drive that behavior. In all cases, her clients and partners speak to the specific increases in achievement that her consulting, coaching and partnership roles make possible.

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