It Is Not Always Your Fault!
Whenever anything goes wrong in life, it’s my fault.
This is the narrative I’ve been telling myself since I can remember.
All misfortunes and disappointments, great and small, are my responsibility.
I failed. This was me.
That’s how I used to think.
And it’s only now, in adulthood and after lots of personal development, that I realize… It’s not always me.
Sometimes I go back to that, but I’m a lot better than I used to be.
So, yes, it’s not always me.
In fact, much of the time, it has literally nothing to do with me.
Not because it’s someone else’s fault, but because there’s plenty of stuff going on over which I have zero control.
Do you do this too?
Why do we keep telling ourselves it’s our fault?
Being a responsible person is usually a good thing—it means you’re committed, dependable, accountable, you care about others, and you take pride in your work.
It’s the opposite of shirking responsibility by pointing fingers or making excuses.
But sometimes we can go too far.
Do you take on other people’s tasks?
If someone you love is grumpy, do you automatically assume it’s something you did?
Do you apologize when someone bumps into you?
Your Responsibility vs Not Your Responsibility
Owning what’s yours—mistakes and blunders included—is a sign of maturity.
But owning everybody else’s mistakes and blunders, not to mention tasks, duties, and emotions, is a sign of over-responsibility.
You can tell you’re overly responsible because you are probably quite often near the edge of burnout.
You’re scheduling your life and everyone else’s.
You get annoyed by how irresponsible others seem. You keep reminding others of their responsibilities. You keep reminding yourself of all the things you should be doing.
You resent those who seem to feel entitled to your generosity.
The moment anything goes not-to-plan, you feel the entire weight of that outcome on your shoulders.
The idea that you are responsible for things beyond your control and becoming obsessive with this sense of responsibility for others, is sometimes linked with actual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Actual OCD can be much more severe and may need a doctor’s care. I’m obviously not a doctor, so if you need help, please get it from a professional.
Where does this idea of being overly responsible come from?
Like most beliefs and habits, it often starts while you are still a child.
Kids who get blamed for things they have no power over, like their parents’ emotions, finances, or relationships, start to believe they are indeed responsible.
When you grow up hearing things like, “Look how upset you made your mom,” or “Buying Christmas presents this year is really making us broke,” or anything else along those lines, it can make you start to believe that it is always your fault.
Being Overly Responsible Can Play Out in our Lives in Many Ways.
It’s appropriate to feel guilty when we’ve hurt someone or something, whether it was on purpose or not.
But in over-responsibility, we feel guilty when things out of our control go wrong.
Even if it’s something we couldn’t have foreseen, we still feel as though we should have known to act differently
Conflict Avoidance –
In trying to keep the peace, we’d rather shoulder more than our fair share of the burden than risk a difficult conversation, or confrontation with someone.
It’s easier to expand the scope of our responsibilities rather than to risk upsetting or disappoint someone we care about.
Feeling Used –
This one can be hard.
Of course we want those around us to trust that we’ll cover for them – we’ll drive our teenage to school if he’s running late, help a co-worker finish a project when she has to leave early, or maybe even work a second job to make up for our spouse’s bad financial decisions.
But then we end up with an unending to-do list and a thousand details to attend to.
It’s important here to understand the difference between demands and priorities.
Priorities are the things you want to do; demands are the things other people expect you to do.
Too many priorities lead to boredom, while too many demands lead to resentment.
And resentment is exactly where the road of over-responsibility takes us.
Even though we may have brought this on ourselves by always volunteering to pick up the pieces, we can start to feel used.
Take Self-Responsibility Instead
You are not to blame for everything, but you are responsible for yourself.
What do you have control over?
- Your thoughts.
- Your words.
- Your actions.
Although sometimes, it may not feel this way.
You might often act out of habit and long-standing emotional patterns.
But if you decide to take full responsibility for yourself, you can learn to step back from these patterns and make happier and healthier choices.
Stop beating yourself up for everything that goes wrong.
Instead, commit to being fully responsible for yourself — for your own thoughts, words, and actions.
The thoughts may still rise up in your mind.
You might feel responsible, especially since you’ve been thinking those kinds of thoughts for a long time.
You don’t need to feel guilty about a single one.
Just know you can choose whether to give it power or let it go.
Be Your Own Self-Advocate
One of the kindest things we can do for ourselves is to be a Worthy Self-Advocate.
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
Your self-talk may sound something like this”
- I am doing enough! I am a good enough parent, business owner, spouse, child to your parents, sibling.
- I am behaving adequately! It may not be perfect, but that’s okay.
- I’m making progress because I’m a work-in-progress.
- I don’t need to be fixed anyway.
- I’m having a human experience that is meant to be messy and dysfunctional at times.
- I don’t have to be happy all the
It’s a process, and as long as you’re getting better and moving forward every day, you’re on the right track.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Did anything I talked about today resonate with you?
What things help you to remember that it’s not always your fault? You’re not responsible for everything?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
I would love to hear your stories.
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