Responsibility is a sign of maturity. It’s one of the markers of being a grown up. It’s ownership for the things that matter to you, the things that are in your care. It’s ensuring that you’re the one that has those things turn out. It does not apply to everything or everyone. It is a very focused nexus of power.
Responsibility is literally your ability to respond. Your ability to respond becomes stronger and more multi-faceted as you grow up and into the roles you take on. When you are younger, there are parents, teachers or other authority figures telling you what you are responsible for doing. As an adult, you have to figure these things out for yourself.
Children are sometimes given responsibility for things they are neither ready nor able to take on. Some kids are more mature and willing to assume adult roles before it is appropriate or healthy. If you were one of those kids, you may have carried that feeling of responsibility into adulthood, and feel responsible for others who are old enough to be responsible for themselves.
I was a very serious kid. My family emigrated from Cuba when I was almost two years old and it was clear to me early on that we lived by different rules. Both of my parents worked and we had chores and responsibilities. I remember that at first my only chore was sweeping and cleaning the table.
In our family everyone had responsibilities, everyone contributed. Laziness was not tolerated. My parents were very strict and big on discipline. There were serious consequences for slacking off on your responsibilities. No one did.
When I was 14 I got a job at the corner pharmacy. I remember my parents praise. They acknowledged my sense of responsibility and hard work. I had given up singing in choir because it conflicted with my work schedule. Responsibility was highly valued in my family. Kudos were rare in my family. Excellence was expected. I remember feeling so proud.
I’ve always been uber responsible. As someone used to taking charge, and being responsible, it’s been a particularly difficult challenge. I’ve had to learn to loosen up and let go of things that are not mine to do. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
I was one of those kids who was eager to help, and was given quite a bit of responsibility at a young age. One of the things I was held responsible for was watching my brothers, so they didn’t get into trouble. There were three of them and only one of me. Although it was an impossible task, I felt responsible for them, long after childhood.
As an adult, I defaulted to feeling responsible for other people and their emotions. As an empath, I usually knew when someone was upset, and felt it was up to me to figure out how to fix their problems and make them feel better. If someone was unhappy or struggling, even if I had very little relationship to them, I felt responsible for cheering them up.
One of my long-time mentors was a Buddhist. She taught me that you can only be responsible for what you can control. So, since I had no control over anyone’s behavior but my own, it made no sense to assume responsibility for other people.
Knowing this helped me to have healthier relationships with everyone from my mother to my clients. It also allowed me to create appropriate relationship boundaries with others. This is something I had struggled with, but once I understood what my responsibility really was, it became a natural thing to do. And it did wonders for my relationships.
The Goddess of Now
The Goddess of Now says, that which you choose to be responsible for, beyond your own needs, shapes and structures your life in important ways. Those kinds of responsibilities allow you to develop your character and invest in something that gives you a sense of satisfaction. You may choose to take on a garden, a project, or a role in a volunteer organization.
The Goddess reminds you that the things you have the ability to respond to utilize your gifts and talents, allow you to be in community with others of like mind, and generally energize your life. Appropriate responsibility, taken on consciously, and with a sense of adventure and purpose, is positively life-enhancing.
Creative Exploration: Responsibility
Before you dive into today’s topic take a moment to feel your connection to yourself, to one another and to All That Is. Feel responsibility as if it were a crown. Notice what your crown looks like. Is it gold and jewel-encrusted? Is it simple and unassuming? Imagine that the things you are responsible for are symbols on your crown. Notice what you are essentially responsible for. Allow it to be what it is. Notice how it feels when you place it on your head. Is it heavy? Is it light? Does it feel just right (just like Goldilocks’ porridge and bed)?
Through the Goddess lens of Commitment and Self Love, consider your relationship to responsibility. See if there is anything you would like to shift or upgrade.
Pick from the writing prompts below, or create your own.
I am responsible…
Write for 2 minutes (or more, if you like).