It’s a thing: being too accountable.
The concept of being responsible for your actions is a positive and empowering message communicated by good parents, respectable organizations, teachers, mental health professionals, leaders with integrity and many others. And it should be.
It is an important skill: to know how to be accountable. Knowing how to be aware, acknowledge and clean up when we have done wrong is a vital skill in having healthy relationships and being an upstanding member of society.
On the flip side, taking too much responsibility is often not discussed. Too much of a good thing is still too much.
There are some reasons why you might find yourself taking too much responsibility:
ONE: It has been unsafe for you to communicate your boundaries.
You may have had volatile relationships in your history where confrontation or any expression of anger was just not okay.
TWO: Others have not shown up and done their work in important relationships.
So you did it by trying to take responsibility.
THREE: You have been blamed a lot in important relationships.
So, this only feels natural.
There are some reasons it doesn’t serve you:
ONE: Your self concept becomes skewed.
Being accountable for things going wrong all the time might feel like you are damaged goods.
TWO: It feeds the false illusion that you can control and fix everything.
No one can do that. You and I both know that intellectually. However, you may, on a deeper level, wish for that control because it would just be easier.
THREE: You are residing in a disempowered place.
I know that seems counter intuitive. But, being responsible for something that is not within your locus of control ties your hands. If it is not within your locus of control, there is little you can do to effect change, leaving you feeling like a failure.
There are some reasons it doesn’t serve others:
ONE: They are not empowered.
They also feel like they are in an impossible situation that is never improving. They just might not know that it is not improving because the part that needs attention resides with them.
TWO: What is someone else’s responsibility is also an opportunity for their growth, even if they don’t see it that way at first.
If you continue being responsible for what is theirs, you are foreclosing on their chance to move through similar roadblocks in other areas of their life where you are not there to take responsibility.
THREE: It enables unhealthy behaviors, coping mechanisms or relationship dynamics.
That means you and everyone else around this person will have to continue to deal with crappy interactions. Be a blessing in this person’s life by holding them accountable. You never know… if the person you are allowing to carry their weight rises to the occasion, it could inspire others close to them or allow for a ripple effect of positive shifts.
All human beings will kindly accept the invitation of being free from blame or responsibility when they are in an interaction with someone who is willing to take the blame.
The person allowing you to be responsible for what is going wrong is not a jerk. They are only responding the way a normal human being would.
At the end of the day, just like having a healthy emotional system, there is a healthy range to operate within when it comes to being accountable.
You want to make sure you are accountable enough, that you are gracious with others in their shortcomings AND you want to make sure you are allowing everyone to pull their weight. To give yourself and them the opportunity to operate at the highest potential.
One person doing all the work never gets as far as you can when everyone pitching in.
Take some time to consider whether you might be taking on too much responsibility in your relationships.
And, stay tuned or subscribe so you don’t miss the next post on HOW to implement this insight in your most important relationships.