I’m not responsible for others

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My daily prayer is to be peaceful. When I lose my peace, I go within to see what I’m feeling and what I need to change. I know I cannot change other people, I can only change myself. I’m grateful for the tools I have such as prayer, meditation, journaling and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to get me back on track when I lose my peace and slip into old codependent behaviors, like I did this week.

Until I learned to love and appreciate myself, I struggled with codependent behaviors all the time and for many years.  A simple definition of codependency is when I’m focused on someone else at the expense of myself.  It’s like someone else’s needs are more important than mine. I had a lot of “shoulds” in my life and felt guilty when I focused on what I wanted and needed.

Codependency comes from a place of insecurity, self-doubt and lack of self-love. I didn’t love myself and looked to others to fill the hole in my soul.  It didn’t work because it was never enough. Only Love, God, Spirit can fill the hole in the soul.

Whenever I want to “rescue” someone or give unsolicited advice, I know I’m into old codependent behaviors because I’m not allowing them to experience the consequences of their behaviors and actions.  Of course, I don’t want to see people I love suffer, but that doesn’t give me the right to give advice or try to rescue or fix them. What someone else is doing or not doing is none of my business.

I have learned to Say NO and change my mind when it doesn’t feel right and I don’t want to do something.  In fact, saying NO has become quite comfortable. With that said, I was really surprised what popped up for me this week. I said NO to a friend when she asked me to do something for her. I knew I didn’t want to do it, but felt guilty and like I SHOULD do it. The little voice inside said, “What kind of a friend are you?” I really struggled, but knew it wasn’t in my highest good to do what she asked me to do. I needed to focus on myself. I also knew “shoulding” on myself and feeling guilty were old codependent behaviors.

I’m learning the difference between feeling responsible FOR others and being responsible TO others. We are responsible TO our children, but not when they are adults and capable of handling their own lives.

When I’m feeling responsible FOR others, I may feel resentful, exhausted, judgmental, overwhelmed, anxious, guilty, self-righteous and fearful.  I want to manipulate, fix, rescue, give advice, care-take, demand and bully. I want things to go my way and control circumstances and outcomes. In other words, I want THEM to change.

When we are responsible TO others, we take care of our own business. We trust them to take care of their business. We show empathy, kindness and understanding. We encourage and empower them to follow their heart. We share our experience and we listen.

When we are responsible TO others, we feel peaceful, trusting, connected and we accept what is.  We let go and let God, send love and respect the other person and their ability to take care of themselves.

I am grateful that I continue to learn and grow. I know I’m not perfect and that is ok. I’m doing the best I can and I am a work in progress. I know that old behaviors will pop up from time to time and I deal with them and move on.


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Pat Hastings

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host

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