Thinking of a title for this article was difficult because responsibilities can also be linked to priorities.
If you want, you can make notes or take some minutes to reflect on the following:
At what age did you start taking responsibility gradually? What were the circumstances around that and what made you become responsible? Did you eventually become a person who took responsibility for everything you have done or encountered including your own actions and reactions?
Does any of the points below jog your memory on roughly when you started taking responsibilities on?
- You had to go to a boarding school.
- You had to leave home to go to the best university.
- Your home environment was toxic and the minute you had a chance you left.
- You were sent away abroad to live permanently so that you could get a better life.
- You were sent abroad for an education so that you could get a better life.
- You were sent to live with your father or mother. Your parents are divorced.
- The economic crisis forced you to find a job outside of your country.
- From a young age, you had a lot of responsibilities for being the eldest.
- From a young age, you had a lot of responsibilities because of poverty.
I am sure there are many situations than what I point out here.
Now reflect on your childhood and teenage years. Were you always causing problems at home? Did someone else always clean up the mess for you or had to help you even though you were the cause of these problems? Did you do as you please always? Did you act like a know it all? Where you a bully that even got to have your way with family members?
If you have carried out this exercise by thinking, reflecting and writing notes then that will help you a lot.
Congratulations to you if you find that you have been facing your responsibilities head-on always. You know it’s hard, we all feel the same, but it gives you something to be proud of. An achievement that no one can take away from you because you have done it yourself. No one ever knows how things will turn out. Yes, you can get advice, but it is up to you in the end. This is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. It cuts off everyone else from the blame game.
I am sure you remember how painful it was in the beginning but then like anything in life the pain subsides, is forgotten and taking responsibility becomes second nature.
If you have been running from your responsibilities, taking shortcuts, or the easy way out…
Running away from your responsibilities, taking shortcuts or the easy way out will eventually catch up with you and with those who have to keep helping you. You are robbing yourself the chance to take control of your own life and robbing others of the chance to put their energy where they most need it. Perhaps they still need to help themselves or another person. Other people need their energy for them. It is not reserved to serve you when you require. People can’t keep cleaning the up the circumstances you create for yourself and as soon as one is over you have a new one. Other people need space and time to figure their things out instead of helping you fix the problems you have created. They might look like they don’t have problems or look available to help but that does not necessarily mean they should be dumped with your responsibilities. One way or another you will need to take responsibility for your own actions and consequences. The sooner you start the better.
In patriarchal societies or in families (there are exceptions) where the male has the most power there is a controlling behaviour to raising children. There is often a different way to raising boys than girls. However, patriarchal societies put a lot of focus on family that even in crisis they stick together. The downside to it is that women are not treated equally. They are often the ones who have to make the most sacrifices, and because this has become a social norm the tendency is to keep doing for others as a habit. Saying no makes waves and they are often groomed to be submissive. Saying no makes them look like they’re the problem. They are often manipulated into believing they have to be on their family members side even when their family members are wrong.
A wake-up call…
- The minute you start to take responsibility for everything is when the saying, “God helps those who help themselves,” comes into play. Forget about the football matches, your favourite TV show, that barbecue your unmarried friends with no children are having, that trip your friends are making, going to the bar to have a drink and socialise after work, and putting people first who are not even genuine to you and to those who you care about. Stop planning when it is convenient for you to dump your responsibilities onto someone so that you can go and do those things and then giving people the leftovers to recover from your guilty actions. Stop expecting everyone to feel sorry for you or make them feel bad for not helping you. The circumstances you’ve created for yourself have priorities. Do them all yourself and see how proud you feel at the end of the day when you didn’t have to rely on anyone.
- Stop wining and dining the wrong people who didn’t do anything for you or your family i.e. the ones who spoke more than offering to help, the ones who were never there when you really needed help, the ones who used you and start respecting those who are there for you when you need/needed them.
- Don’t force people to help you and promise things when they can’t. You have no right to feel bitter about it or have bitterness for them. They’re too busy taking care of their own responsibilities.
- Everyone else has to take the long route, why are you so special? Want to take the shortcut? Be prepared … later you’ll have to pay up.
- Balance your life because others are also trying to balance theirs.
- Don’t burn your bridges because when you really need help no one will be there for you and one day that might be your own family.
- Start treating the people who were there for you from the beginning and that are still with you now better rather than looking after those who don’t deserve it.
Take responsibility now because later could be too late …
T. Dench Patel