Particularly in group settings, but also in families, and one-on-one with our partners, we find this phenomenon of both taking responsibility for others and transferring our responsibility to others. We’re overly responsible, some of us, in some situations, and we’re less than accountable, some of us, in other situations.
Possibly the greatest task of social maturity is balancing the acceptance of responsibility. When we accept responsibility only for that which we’re personally responsible, and yet are still available to help others, but not rescue them, we attain the right social balance.
In attaining the right social balance, allowing others to step up to the plate, to own their portions of responsibility for their successes and failures, we’re a blessing.
We’re a blessing because we’re being fair on others and allowing them to learn, by not pitying them. We’re also a blessing when we receive the full force of consequence, in being responsible, for the things we’ve done. When we adopt this as a solemn rule in our lives, we’re living fearlessly. Such an attitude and approach to life is personified leadership, and it agrees with God, come what may.
Resisting Temptations To Assume Responsibility
Sometimes we may rationalise that it’s easier to assume someone else’s load of responsibility than to keep them roundly accountable. We experience this a lot when we try to help people. We can try too hard. Our generosity can be too impatient.
There are so many things that other people do that we cannot control, even if we’re parents, managers in a workplace, or counsellors or coaches. Everyone has a choice regarding their attitudes and behaviours. We can never assume responsibility for someone else’s feelings, thoughts or acts. Though madly, we try.
We may only assume responsibility for our feelings, thoughts and acts.
This may be the hardest of things for most people—to accept responsibility when things turn pear-shaped. Nobody likes discomfort or pain. And to accept responsibility is to invite discomfort and pain. To take responsibility requires courage. And most of us, most of the time, might fail in our endeavours to be courageous.
Taking our responsibility, and bearing the consequences by both reward and punishment, is the obedient life of the mature. Truth is their guide.
We cannot control what other people do and, therefore, we cannot take responsibility for others’ thoughts, feelings, or actions. We can only control what we think, feel, or do. In an adult world, only what we do are we responsible for.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: weavingthemoon.