Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted because of putting everyone else’s needs before ones own has been a topic that has come up surprisingly frequently in my personal and professional life the past few weeks. As relational beings and perhaps more so for those of us who consider ourselves people pleasers, we often find ourselves feeling as though others’ well being and happiness is our responsibility to create, nurture, and maintain. Not only is this an incredibly ambitious undertaking, but in actuality, not humanly possible. Although sometimes it might be nice to have ultimate power and control over our spouses, children, parents (especially when they just won’t do things our way), unfortunately there’s this really interesting (and sometimes annoying) thing called free will.

Here then we’ll look at the concept of being responsible to our loved (and sometimes not so easily loved) ones as opposed to being responsible for them.  Try as we might, we are not responsible for ensuring others are happy, content, burden free, relieved, or satisfied. Believing and acting as though this is our responsibility is almost always bound to end up in us feeling exhausted, hurt, resentful, and angry because trying to control something or someone we have no ability to control is a discouraging and hopeless undertaking.

However, throughout our life’s journey we ARE responsible to be loving, respectful, kind, generous, patient, helpful, compassionate, and understanding. We chose to treat others how we might, and they chose how they will or will not respond. For better or worse those around us have the full right and ability to take what we give and do as they like.

In a shell of nuts, we are responsible to others and for ourselves.