We cannot take on another’s journey any more than another can die our death for us. – James Hollis
Jackie is afraid to tell her husband the truth. She’s afraid that if he knew how disconnected she felt from him and how she was considering leaving the marriage it would destroy him. He may never recover…he may never love or trust again…he may never feel anything other than sadness and loss. Her husband is a good man and a great father and doesn’t deserve to be hurt like this.
She feels the weight of responsibility for his pain and she thinks the only way to avoid that is to bury what she wants and what she feels.
No wonder she’s stuck. She’s been attempting to make that work for years by burying, denying and avoiding. She’s been trying to find the perfect answer where neither of them suffer.
I don’t attract sociopaths, so I’m assuming that if you’re a part of my community, you care about other people and aren’t trying to intentionally hurt them.
Who I do attract are women who overtake responsibility for other people’s feelings – to the point where they will not pursue their hopes, dreams and desires for themselves if it means someone may have feelings about those choices.
That is where we cross the line into overtaking responsibility.
We have learned to adjust our actions in order to please other people (or at least not upset them) – even when it means hurting ourselves, betraying ourselves, and causing suffering to ourselves.
We think we’re doing the good and right thing, but we’re actually not doing either of us any favors when we overtake responsibility for others:
- We deny our soul’s desire…
- We stop trusting ourselves…
- We repeatedly constrict ourselves in a myriad of ways, making ourselves smaller so that others will feel more comfortable…
Which means we lie to the people we love about who we really are and we lie to ourselves and pretend that we can control how others feel. In doing so, we teach them to rely on us for their happiness and well-being.
If you do the things I want you to do, I will feel the way I want to feel.
If you could actually control how others feel then…
- Why haven’t you helped all the people who feel depressed? Why haven’t you helped them feel happier and more hopeful?
- Why haven’t you helped all the people who don’t believe in themselves to feel more confident and trusting?
- Why haven’t you helped all the people who are negative and hateful to feel more positive and loving – towards themselves and others?
If you – and you alone – are responsible for managing emotions for anyone other than yourself, then you should get busy. Take that gig on the road. Help millions of people who desperately need you.
Why haven’t you? Because you can’t…
It doesn’t work that way. And you know it.
We cannot feel for anyone else and we cannot control anyone else’s feelings. Of course, as human beings, we influence one another; I’m not denying that.
But overtaking responsibility and contorting yourself and your life in order to manage the feelings of other people isn’t the answer.
Here’s a rule I try to live by that you may find helpful:
I’m going to love you and take loving actions where you are concerned, as long as it doesn’t require me to abandon or betray myself in the process.
Ready to stop betraying yourself? Let’s talk.