Assuming too much responsibility for other people

  • 8 Replies
  • 750 Views
*

blues_cruise

  • Member
  • 253
    • View Profile
Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« on: July 13, 2020, 10:47:11 PM »
I was recently listening to a podcast on the topic of taking too much responsibility for the actions of other people and it really hit home for me. I do this all the time and when someone mistreats me or does something offensive I end up obsessing over what has happened and scrutinising the memory for any inkling that I did something wrong and proof that it was my fault. I do this with memories of interactions with my father, even though I know he was abusive and that in reality I wasn't a terrible person who deserved it and that I couldn't have possibly controlled his poor choices. More recently I've been finding myself taking too much responsibility too for a friendship which has fizzled out, even though I logically know that the friend has also chosen not to make much further effort and that it's not entirely my doing. It's one of those scenarios where you just grow apart and need different things from social interactions and is probably understandable on both sides, except I'm uncomfortable letting go of people even when we're not compatible and I default to blaming myself! I think deep down I believe that I'm not worthy of friends and should feel lucky that anyone wants to know me, so I'm chastising myself for not making more of an effort even though what I'm logically doing in this particular situation is putting an emotional boundary in place.

I'm thinking this is all probably rooted in shame and an ingrained, hypervigilant fawn response which used to help protect me but is now rather outdated. It's so frustrating to constantly have that nagging in my head and feels like I'm constantly at war with myself! Does anyone else have this happen on a regular basis? For me it's daily/constant and it's so exhausting to constantly be trying to call myself out. I'm improving in that I can at least attempt to identify what the reality of a given situation is, however it's so hard to actually believe it at my core.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 10:50:40 PM by blues_cruise »

*

rainydiary

  • Member
  • 277
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 12:21:16 AM »
Yes, this is me too!  I was remembering a horrible afternoon around 4 years ago where my fatherís abusive side re-emerged with a vengeance.  It was horrible and honestly was probably the start of me really realizing what went on when I was a kid.  My mom approached me later and was trying to justify what my dad did and I said, ďI deserve it.Ē  Seriously??!!  I had done nothing to warrant his behavior.  And yet I felt like it was my fault.  I look back on that day and feel so sick about it.  No wonder I grew up so wounded.

That is an extreme example but I know I do this at work and in my personal life.  I have a friend that I feel like Iíve done all the work to maintain contact during the pandemic.  I finally decided to stop trying for a while.  Iím definitely in the stage of noticing this about myself and trying to figure out how to manage it better.

*

Slim

  • Member
  • 340
  • "No dramas"
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 11:47:40 AM »
Hi Blues_cruise
I agree that this is about feelings of shame that you cannot face yet.
I have similar behaviours, and am trying to manage my shame with a therapist

*

Kizzie

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • 8158
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2020, 05:17:28 PM »
Same problem Blues  :heythere:   What helped me is to run things by my H who is better at  recognizing when someone is shifting blame, behaving like a jerk, being abusive.  He has no problem is calling them out & not losing sleep over it. He does not let people shame him because he knows he is a good person. Like many survivors of relational trauma I wasn't so sure.

I started running people's behaviour by him that was troubling to me and hearing what he had to say and trying to see things through his eyes.  I found his perspective starting to connect with what my gut was telling me, that the person was behaving badly and I did not need to spend my time placating, listening, being accommodating, taking any responsibility ....  I could just walk away and not  internalize other people's behav.

Part of the shift involved really looking at whether I am a 'bad' person who should feel shame. I can honestly say now I am a 'good' person who is kind, respectful, considerate, etc., unlike many of the abusive people I have encountered. 

I've found members here to be the same in terms of kindness, compassion, empathy, respect, etc -  despite or maybe because we suffered abuse/neglect. 

All this is to say, maybe it's time to throw away that lens of shame so many of us developed because of the trauma we endured and look at who you truly are.   :grouphug:



*

buddy9832

  • Member
  • 189
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2020, 07:21:47 PM »
Hi blues, Iíve had similar experiences and Iím sure itís deep rooted in shame and guilt for me. I donít necessarily expect this out of others but it feels like I am intricately tied to the Butterfly Effect (paraphrasing but can a flap of a butterflyís wing contribute to a tornado in Texas?).

I feel an extreme sense of ownership and responsibility for others and my actions. For example, I am a project manager. When projects go wrong either due to the failings of someone on the team or just the natural flow of things I take it hard. I feel like Iím the root cause of the failure. If only I knew enough information at the time to prevent John Smith from doing x or if only I knew this key piece of information I could have prevented the problem. I find myself obsessing over the problem. Trying to find how I could have  influenced the outcome.

My previously life in the Navy was a breeding ground for this type of mentality. Ownership is drilled into you. You are responsible for the success or failings of your direct reports. Thatís why at least in the US Navy you will see Captains frequently getting relieved of command. Their ship could have collided with another ship while they were sleeping but since they are overall responsible for everyone on the ship it is their fault.

For me this translated to me being intimately tied to my sailors and their success. When they failed I failed. There were times sailors of mine would get DUIs. I somehow felt responsible. One of my colleagues was suicidal. Even after the Navy I felt responsible for ensuring his mental health was in check.

I guess what I am saying is I am sure it is directly tied to cPTSD. Itís been in me for as long as I can remember. Itís getting better now that Iím doing therapy and as Kizzie suggested I need to throw things by my spouse to get a gauge.

*

blues_cruise

  • Member
  • 253
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2020, 03:29:58 PM »
 :) Thank you all for hearing me.  :grouphug:

Yes, this is me too!  I was remembering a horrible afternoon around 4 years ago where my fatherís abusive side re-emerged with a vengeance.  It was horrible and honestly was probably the start of me really realizing what went on when I was a kid.  My mom approached me later and was trying to justify what my dad did and I said, ďI deserve it.Ē  Seriously??!!  I had done nothing to warrant his behavior.  And yet I felt like it was my fault.  I look back on that day and feel so sick about it.  No wonder I grew up so wounded.

That is an extreme example but I know I do this at work and in my personal life.  I have a friend that I feel like Iíve done all the work to maintain contact during the pandemic.  I finally decided to stop trying for a while.  Iím definitely in the stage of noticing this about myself and trying to figure out how to manage it better.

I relate to that, it is shocking when you start to realise just how wrong it was to put up with all the abuse and just how unfair it was to be blamed for things that should have been the responsibility of an adult. My own father also got back in touch with his abusive side after a few years of relative calm (which had been at the expense of me maintaining the role of golden child via excessive fawning). The first time I dared say "no" to one of his demands it was like a switch was flicked and the true side of him that I hadn't seen since my early twenties re-emerged. I had deluded myself for many years that he was "an okay person really" and that time had lessened his dark side but no, it was gutting to realise that the loving father was a mask and that this person only existed if I remained compliant. Absolutely awful, and rather than abating after several months his behaviour only continued to get worse from thereon.

A child is unable to comprehend or accept that a parent doesn't have their best interests at heart because they need the guidance and care of an adult for survival, so it's only natural that this coping mechanism is ingrained in us and very difficult to shake. In my case my reptilian brain reacts to perceived threat very quickly by defaulting to a shame response and it takes the logical part of my brain a bit longer to catch up and say, "Come on now, YOU are the one being mistreated here."

Friend stuff when it comes to boundaries is particularly difficult because they're not necessarily being a bad person, drifting apart just feels a bit "meh...well that sucks" rather than dangerous, so sticking up for my own self worth when there's not really that much on the line feels extreme. The only real boundary I've ever put in place with a person has been no contact with my father and it took so many years to reach that point. It feels hard applying this protective barrier to a situation where the person isn't actively being abusive and I think because of that it causes me a lot of uncertainty over how real and valid my feelings are.

Hi Blues_cruise
I agree that this is about feelings of shame that you cannot face yet.
I have similar behaviours, and am trying to manage my shame with a therapist

Yeah, shame is so overwhelming and automatic. I'm glad you've got a therapist helping you along with it.  :thumbup:

Same problem Blues  :heythere:   What helped me is to run things by my H who is better at  recognizing when someone is shifting blame, behaving like a jerk, being abusive.  He has no problem is calling them out & not losing sleep over it. He does not let people shame him because he knows he is a good person. Like many survivors of relational trauma I wasn't so sure.

I started running people's behaviour by him that was troubling to me and hearing what he had to say and trying to see things through his eyes.  I found his perspective starting to connect with what my gut was telling me, that the person was behaving badly and I did not need to spend my time placating, listening, being accommodating, taking any responsibility ....  I could just walk away and not  internalize other people's behav.

Part of the shift involved really looking at whether I am a 'bad' person who should feel shame. I can honestly say now I am a 'good' person who is kind, respectful, considerate, etc., unlike many of the abusive people I have encountered. 

I've found members here to be the same in terms of kindness, compassion, empathy, respect, etc -  despite or maybe because we suffered abuse/neglect. 

All this is to say, maybe it's time to throw away that lens of shame so many of us developed because of the trauma we endured and look at who you truly are.   :grouphug:

Hi Kizzie.  :) Yeah, running things by someone you know to be assertive but fair can be really useful.  I have been trying to do this lately, even if it's just looking online to see if anyone else has struggled with a scenario I'm not confident with. Often on places such as Reddit you can find past threads where people have asked for advice with uncomfortable situations and it can be really helpful and a comfort to see what guidance people offer. My H is also very assertive so can be a good reference point on what's acceptable and what's not. I'm always amazed at how blunt he's able to be with people and how much they respect him for it!

I think my subconsience holds on to its old belief system that I need to try to be perfect to survive. I'm trying to be gentle with and reparent myself in that respect, I've held on to this unproductive and unhealthy way of thinking about myself since I was a toddler, so it's only natural that there's resistance there I guess.  :Idunno:

Hi blues, Iíve had similar experiences and Iím sure itís deep rooted in shame and guilt for me. I donít necessarily expect this out of others but it feels like I am intricately tied to the Butterfly Effect (paraphrasing but can a flap of a butterflyís wing contribute to a tornado in Texas?).

I feel an extreme sense of ownership and responsibility for others and my actions. For example, I am a project manager. When projects go wrong either due to the failings of someone on the team or just the natural flow of things I take it hard. I feel like Iím the root cause of the failure. If only I knew enough information at the time to prevent John Smith from doing x or if only I knew this key piece of information I could have prevented the problem. I find myself obsessing over the problem. Trying to find how I could have  influenced the outcome.

My previously life in the Navy was a breeding ground for this type of mentality. Ownership is drilled into you. You are responsible for the success or failings of your direct reports. Thatís why at least in the US Navy you will see Captains frequently getting relieved of command. Their ship could have collided with another ship while they were sleeping but since they are overall responsible for everyone on the ship it is their fault.

For me this translated to me being intimately tied to my sailors and their success. When they failed I failed. There were times sailors of mine would get DUIs. I somehow felt responsible. One of my colleagues was suicidal. Even after the Navy I felt responsible for ensuring his mental health was in check.

I guess what I am saying is I am sure it is directly tied to cPTSD. Itís been in me for as long as I can remember. Itís getting better now that Iím doing therapy and as Kizzie suggested I need to throw things by my spouse to get a gauge.

Shame and guilt is a big factor, I agree. For my entire life my self-esteem has been based on what I can do for other people and bending myself backwards to accommodate what they want. There's always this overwhelming sense that something bad will happen if I don't try to keep other people content. I think I struggle to find the balance between trying to not hold other people up to these unrealistic standards while also not allowing them to take me for granted. This is where I really feel the loss of having never had what felt like a safe enough environment as a child to make mistakes and figure all this out. Being anything other than quiet and staying out of the way would trigger immediate rage.

From what you've shared I can really see how military life would compound misplaced feelings of responsibility, wow. I'm glad that therapy is helping you work through it.  :thumbup:

*

Kizzie

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • 8158
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2020, 05:27:02 PM »
Quote
Yeah, running things by someone you know to be assertive but fair can be really useful.  I have been trying to do this lately, even if it's just looking online to see if anyone else has struggled with a scenario I'm not confident with. Often on places such as Reddit you can find past threads where people have asked for advice with uncomfortable situations and it can be really helpful and a comfort to see what guidance people offer. My H is also very assertive so can be a good reference point on what's acceptable and what's not. I'm always amazed at how blunt he's able to be with people and how much they respect him for it!

 :thumbup:   

You can always run things by us here too.  In addition to helping you, it helps us. We didn't have role models to learn from about boundaries, etc., but we have each other now and can put our heads together and help figure things out together.  :grouphug:

*

blues_cruise

  • Member
  • 253
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2020, 11:20:33 AM »
Thanks Kizzie, navigating this stuff and feeling alone in it all gets really overwhelming! It's lovely to be reminded that we all have each other.  :)

*

Kizzie

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • 8158
    • View Profile
Re: Assuming too much responsibility for other people
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2020, 03:09:34 PM »
 :grouphug: