Do you feel responsible for your friends and family members’ well-being? Are you always the person helping everyone with all their problems? Do you take on their emotional load? Chances are this began as a childhood coping mechanism and in this episode I share how you can stop the pattern of overresponsibility (I struggle with it too!) You aren’t responsible for the decisions of people around you and this episode will help you get clear on that!
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Episode 431: How To Stop Being Overly Responsible with Sahara Rose
By Sahara Rose
Namaste, my name is Sahara Rose and welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast, a place where we discuss what makes You, Your Soul’s Highest Evolvement.
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I love to bring to the Podcast topics that I’m working on in my own life, and one that has been a major theme over the past couple of years, that really deserved its own Episode, is the concept of over-responsibility.
So, what does that even mean? So, over-responsibility, to me, means then you feel like you are responsible for other people in your life, whether they are your parents, your friends, colleagues, and you actually take on a sense of self-worth from being responsible for people.
So, most of the time, it starts as a child. For me, being the eldest daughter, often times it’s the eldest in the family, they were told “You’re the big brother”, “You’re the big sister”, “You need to be responsible”, “You need to take care of everyone”.
So, being the eldest, for me, also coming from parents who had just moved to America and English was not their first language. So, often times it’s children of immigrant parents, who often need to be the translator and don’t have anyone they can go to for common, ordinary scenarios, that your parents just like, they didn’t grow up with prom, they didn’t grow up with a lot of the things that are in this country, so you have to take a sense of responsibility.
So, often, immigrant parents; often, children who are going to college or receiving a form of education for the first time. It can really show up in a lot of ways, but what happens when you’re a kid is, you are given love for being responsible, you are told that you’re a good girl, you’re given a pat on the head, or you simply may not have had another choice. Perhaps there was a parent of yours that was struggling with mental illness, or was working several jobs, or was just not available, whether it was emotionally, mentally, physically, and that caused you to need to take on responsibility for your own survival.
So, if any of these things are resonating, they’re hitting home with you, chances are, you’ve developed a coping mechanism of over-responsibility.
So, how that can show up is in so many ways. In my own life, my father was border-line autistic, he has Asperger’s and it was always something in my household that was unspoken, but I could feel that he was not emotionally there, emotionally able to connect, able to read cues. And as many gifts as he has, there’s also a lot of struggles that come with that.
So, for me, I needed to learn how to be the responsible one (emotionally), that I needed to fix any fights that happened or heal his anger outbursts, or if my parents were fighting, I needed to be the one to be their therapist, I needed to be the one to make sure my mom felt loved and got what she needed. And you just take on these different ways of you feeling like you are responsible for the well-being of your caretakers.
So, because of this, for me, I often found myself in friendships that I was the therapist. From the time I was a kid I was the one everyone would come to whenever they had a problem, and I would sit and listen, and I actually loved it. I found a lot of worth in doing it, it made me feel important, it made me feel mature and adult-like, and that became my pattern.
Now, I share this because there is a lot of light that comes in that, if you’re listening to this, and I know a lot of listeners, they also are the therapist of the friend group. You might be the coach, whether you’re doing it professionally or not, but you have found a sense of purpose in helping others, but maybe it’s also coming from this unhealed wound of feeling like “If I don’t show up in this way, then I won’t receive love; then I won’t be connected to people around me.”
So, I want you to really observe where is it coming from and think of, maybe, a handful of situations where you were helping someone with their problems, but it may have been coming from a place of “Well, I don’t want them to leave me” or “I need to be doing this for their love, to fit in”, or whatever it is. And over-responsibility, while it is empowered, it also is related to people-pleasing, because when we function at a level of feeling responsible for other people, we’re doing so because we want to please them, we want to make them happy, we don’t want them to abandon us. So, we feel like we need to take the extra load so this person can remain in our lives in whatever capacity.
So, for some people, that may feel like being responsible for your relationships. Maybe you attract partners where you, basically, are their caretaker and you are making sure everything is done in the house and you’re taking care of them emotionally and you’re nurturing them, and you, basically, are acting as their mother.
So, you may have been taught to be like that from one of your parents. Maybe you had a parent that you had to mother them, that you attract people in relationships, who mirror that same wound that hasn’t been totally resolved.
Or maybe it’s in friendships, you are in friendships with people, who, every time you meet, they just talk and talk and talk about their problems and they never ask you about your own, and you don’t feel comfortable sharing your truth and you feel like your value in the relationship is you simply giving them advice.
Now, that being said, yes, in healthy relationships and friendships, there are times that you will be helping the other person, absolutely. So, I am not saying completely let go of helping anyone, what I’m saying is, notice if this is your pattern, notice if the moment you meet someone new, you’re like “So, tell me about your life and tell me about all your problems”, and you just instantly go into this coach role because you just don’t know any other way to be in relationships, and try to take a different role.
Maybe you get to be the friend who’s really fun and people call when they want to go out and have a good time; or maybe you get to be the friend who does art projects with people; or the friend that, at least, has a reciprocal relationship where you can hold space for that person and that person can hold space for you.
But if there’s someone in your life that you already know, “Well, there’s no way they could hold space for me”, when I say hold space, I mean sit, listen, make you feel comfortable, like creating an energetic container for you to speak.
So, if you are in friendships that you’re like “Well, I wouldn’t even take advice from this person”, then the question I have for you is, why are you in that friendship? Because if you’re simply in friendships because you’re afraid of what it would look like to drop them, then those probably aren’t your highest friendships.
And yes, when you go through a spiritual awakening, there is a clearing of house that happens, absolutely, that maybe the friends that you resonated with before your awakening, you’re no longer in alignment with and you’re trying to find some way to stick together, so you have taken this role of teaching them everything and helping them with everything and being that responsible one. But now you’re realizing that you don’t want to hold all of the weight, but you’d rather have friendships where it’s more mutual and reciprocal and you’re helping them and they’re helping you, and then you can also just enjoy each other’s time and not just have to be helping each other.
I’ve noticed, so much, especially in female friendships, that the friendship is based off of “Okay, you off-load your problems on me, okay, we’re done? I off-load my problems on you, okay, well, I’ll see you next month!” And that’s not actually genuine connecting, it’s using one another as sounding boards which, again, does happen in healthy friendships, and I love being that supportive role, and it’s important for you to also talk about things that you’re excited about, things that you’re thinking about, curious about, talk about topics rather than just occurrences that have happened in your life or lives of other people, because, I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely left coffee dates and just felt really drained after the interaction because it was just – and I take responsibility, but was just the holding space and like, oh my God, all these things happen and you just leave feeling really heavy.
So, notice if this is your pattern, if you constantly go places and you end up in these really, really intense conversations where you’re helping them change their lives and you don’t feel good after, because that is a sign that it’s coming from your over-responsibility.
As well as the pattern, if you end up in relationships with people that you’re like “I will fix you, I will change you, I will heal you, I will make you better”, and that is your relationship pattern rather than a moment in time. Because, yes, there will be times in relationships where one person’s up and another person’s down, and you hold each other’s hands and support each other, but the relationship shouldn’t be your job to change that person or make them happy, or manage their feelings, or manage their behaviors, that’s actually their responsibility. And there often is this distortion that’s created in childhood, especially if you did have a parent who maybe wasn’t happy; maybe you had a parent that suffered depression, and as a child you just wanted mom to be happy, so you did everything that you could and you got things for her and you took care of breakfast and you ran all the errands, because then, maybe, the mom will be happy. And then when she was happy, you felt good about yourself, like “I did that! Because of me and my hard work, she’s happy now”, and then when she’s sad “Because I did that, because I wasn’t there for her enough, she’s not happy.”
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So, notice if that is your pattern because that means that it is coming from this place of you feeling responsible and actually sacrificing yourself, because, while we think it’s coming from an altruistic place, it’s actually even coming from this place of control, of “If I am not in control, things won’t go the way that I want them to go.” And we hold on and clutch and feel like we need to fix and heal and help because we’re not willing to accept that maybe that person just doesn’t want that, maybe that person just isn’t ready for that. And that is such a hard pill to swallow, especially when it’s someone that you love and you want to be there for them and you have all these tools and you want to help them, but if someone doesn’t want the help, there’s nothing you can do.
In fact, for some people, awakening is just not in the schedule for them in this lifetime. And I don’t know why, there’s many different reasons, some say it’s related to Karma and maybe the last lifetime, they had a lot of ups and downs, they’re like “Yo, I just want to chill in this lifetime”, or maybe they tool the soul contract of “I’m actually here to be the instigator and the awakener of this beautiful being who will incarnate as my child, so I will show them, firsthand, what anger or depression or deep, deep unresolved trauma looks like, because I will be that ignition, that flame beneath them that makes them see what they don’t want to become and actually create that change.”
So, don’t feel like every single person needs to be on the life plan that you’re on. And people will awaken at different states. Some people, it requires them to hit certain levels of rock bottom for them to change, and you can’t control that, and you can’t be responsible for that. And you actually can’t prevent people from learning the lessons that they’re here to learn, you can’t do it for them.
In fact, that actually gets in the way of their Karma, because, let’s say I needed to learn the lesson of “What does me, dishonoring my boundaries, look like? And if you keep trying to protect me and stop me from making these mistakes, and I’m unwilling to listen to you, well, I’m not going to be able to learn that lesson that I need to learn.”
So, the best thing that you can do sometimes is to love someone, to listen to them, but not make yourself responsible for healing them. Of course, if they ask, if they are open to it or if it feels like they would be receptive for you to you sharing it, absolutely, we are here to inspire each other. And if that person isn’t going to take the stick, you can’t do the work for them.
So, if you have felt this over-responsibility, maybe you feel chronic feelings of anxiety for your family, for your friends, maybe you feel this hypervigilance, this hyper-aroused nervous system where you feel like you can’t come down, you can’t chill, like there’s this sense of urgency with everything that needs to happen because you feel like your safety is on the line. And that feeling, it doesn’t allow you to relax, it doesn’t allow you to be creative, it doesn’t allow you to channel your Dharma. In fact, when you’re in that feeling of “I’m responsible, I need to fix everyone, I need to heal everyone”, you carry that out in your work, you are in hypervigilance that you can’t trust, you can’t even align with the right team members or job or area that you want to work in because you’re not open to receiving that. And that’s going to echo in your relationship, that’s going to echo in your friendships, that’s going to echo in every single pattern that you have in your life.
So, if you’re feeling the sense of over-responsibility, I want you to ask yourself, would you want someone else to feel responsible for your life?
Imagine if you knew that your child was sitting there, anxious, about the decisions that you’re making. Wouldn’t you be like “Wait, don’t worry about me, I’m good, I’ve got me, I’m an adult”? So, then, why are you worried about decisions that another adult is making?
You know, sometimes when we’re overly responsible, we think we know better oft what’s right for people, than people know for themselves. How do we actually know? Maybe that person is living their best lifetime. Maybe they’re doing exactly what they need to do here. How do we know that going to therapy is going better, how do we know? How do we know that being on a spiritual journey is what everyone should be doing? It’s not everyone’s life plan. and just because it’s working for us, just because it’s been supportive in our own journeys, no one forced us to be here, we took that initiative ourselves, the path unfolded. If you were able to awaken without someone else forcing you to, then can we trust that that same source, that same power that guided you, can also guide that person in divine timing? And that power is far beyond you.
So, trust that Source will do what Source needs to do, and you, in fact, just being an example of what is possible, is the greatest healing that you can do. You can’t change people by telling them what to do, but you can change how they interact with you. And that isn’t how you show up in your own energy.
So, instead of, maybe, telling your parents “You need to go to therapy, you guys are fucked up, you guys need to go to healers, I’m not going to talk to you until you’ve done this”, instead, you show up with the boundaries that you wish were in place; you show up with the inner father that wish you had; you show up with the inner mother that you wish you had; you show up with your inner child inside of you, knowing that she is protected. You don’t need to explain to them, and you actually don’t even need an apology from them. You can trust that you got you, and rather than feeling like you need to control everyone else, all you can control is your reaction. People are going to do what people are going to do, and it’s impossible to change everyone around us to fit our criteria of what we desire. Instead, we can choose and transform and up-level how we respond, and that comes from doing the healing work; that comes from diving into what it is that’s triggering us so much, that’s making us on this hypervigilance, that we feel like if we’re not responsible, then everything’s going to fall apart. And go into that fear and ask yourself “Is it true, am I the one who’s actually responsible for this? Did my soul sign up for its mission to be responsible for this person’s lesson? Why do I feel like I’m responsible? And who do I feel is responsible for me, then?”
So, we can see that no one can be responsible for you, just like you can’t be responsible for everyone else. And people don’t want to feel like you’re there simply because you’re afraid of what will happen to them if you’re not. People want to feel your presence out of love. And you, giving people your love, without conditions, is the greatest gift that you can do.
And it’s hard, it’s hard to watch someone make decisions that hurt them. And we can show them an alternative, but we can’t be responsible for making sure that they do it. And we can’t learn the lessons for them.
So, know that it’s coming from a really beautiful place. I feel you because it’s within myself too, of like, you just deeply care about people and you want them to be okay, and you know some things and you’ve dove into this own path so you just want to share with other people. And give that healing love to yourself, to your inner child that still feels like they are responsible for the people around them, who still feels like they have to parent their parents, who feels like if they are not responsible and hypervigilant and on alert and on urgency, that everything’s going to fall apart. And let your body know that it is safe. It is safe to unwind, it is safe to let go, it is safe to let people make their own decisions, even if you don’t like them. Take care of you, be gentle with yourself, be loving with yourself and know that the greatest healing gift that you can give the world is you being an example of what is possible. And people will change, simply by being in your energy, of seeing and witnessing you transform, it makes them become curious of “Wow, how did she do it? I remember she used to be reactive like me, and now she’s so peaceful and so on purpose. How did she do it?” And that will actually inspire someone to change so much more than them feeling like “Oh, she keeps telling me what to do, so I need to do it” or if actually someone tells you what to do, you want to do the opposite. If someone keeps telling you “Go to the gym, go to the gym, go to the gym”, it makes you not want to go to the gym. So, you’re actually creating the opposite effect if what you want through over responsibility.
And the other thing that happens is, then, even if you start doing the thing for them, they rely on you and they don’t carry their own loads.
So, let’s say you’re texting your dad every day, “Stop drinking Coke. Stop having sugar. Stop doing it”, you go to their house, you get rid of all their sugar, you get rid of all their stuff, well, guess what, now you’re the one who is going to be responsible for them in every single meal that they have and every single decision that they have, they’re going to need you, right next to them, swatting that McDonald’s out of their hand, because they haven’t the lesson themselves. That desire is not actually coming within, and in fact, probably, when you’re not around, they’re going to binge.
So, here you are, thinking “Well, because I’m giving them all my energy, they’re going to stop doing this thing”, but actually, it just makes them become more passive in their own healing.
So, we can only change when the desire is coming from within ourselves. And when someone is carrying the load for us, we actually become crippled. So, trust that people are connected to their own source, that that guidance is coming from within them, and even if it’s guidance you don’t understand, even if, maybe, they’re not even receiving the guidance, you cannot be responsible for other people’s decisions. And the greatest gift that you can give yourself and them, is to just to lead by example.
So, thank you so much for tuning in. I share this with you because when I share a Podcast like this, it really is just a reminder to myself, it helps me with my own integration of like “Yes, bitch, I need to be…”, it’s like I’m channeling some Source that is like “This message is for you too, honey. So, I feel you!”
And I have another amazing Episode that I did with Hailey McGee, all about people-pleasing and how that might show up. So, if this Episode resonated with you, I will link that Episode below because that’s another really good one of diving more into that people-pleasing that shows up and the ways that we, again, we just don’t want to let people down, so it’s easier for us to carry the load or override our emotions than actually do what’s right for us.
So, I feel you, it’s a never-ending journey! Let me know if this resonates, let me know if you want more on this, if this is a topic that’s of interest to you. And I’m so grateful for you to be here!
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I hope that you loved this conversation, share it with people that you think it may resonate with and I’ll see you in the next one!
Episode 431: How To Stop Being Overly Responsible with Sahara Rose
By Sahara Rose