Confusion about Responsibility in Relationships
Many negative emotions are the result of confusion concerning "who is responsible for whose reality." If we believe that others are responsible for our reality and how we feel, and they do not "create" our reality as we would like it to be or do not give us what we want, we feel hurt, bitter, disillusioned, powerless, fearful, resentful, angry, and even hateful.
When we believe that we are responsible for their reality, and we are not able to make them happy, healthy, successful or satisfied, we feel failure, self-rejection, shame, and guilt. We might even feel anger toward them when they do not cooperate with us to create the reality we believe they must have in order to feel that we are successful and thus worthy as parents, teachers, saviors, healers, etc.
Both beliefs create codependence, resulting in conflicts which prevent both parties from maturing emotionally.
We will all be much happier if we create relationships of conscious love, cocommitment and mutual support rather than burden each other and ourselves in these ways.
Beliefs that Cause Codependency
1. I am responsible for the others’ reality for their safety, happiness, health, success, satisfaction, etc.
We then believe we are failures if they are not well. We also become angry with them when they do not cooperate in creating their own well being, which we need in order to feel worthy.
2. Others are incapable, unable, and lacking inner guidance or the capacity for managing their lives properly. They need me.
We believe they cannot be okay or proceed in life without our guidance and effort. As a consequence, we undermine their self-confidence and self-worth, and wear ourselves down doing for others much of what they can do for themselves. We obstruct their growth and strength.
3. If the others are not well, happy, successful, satisfied, etc., then I am a failure.
In such cases, we get trapped in a vicious circle with the others, seeking to pressure them to live their lives in ways that we believe will make them happy and well. We do this, however, not only out of love, but also out of our need to affirm our self-worth.
4. If the others are not well or satisfied, etc., I am not worthy.
5. If the other is not well or happy, I do not have the right to be well or happy.
This often does not help the other, but instead adds to the negativity in the environment. I remember a man once who expressed the need to be not well and to express it without his wife going to pieces.
6. If I love someone who is suffering, unhappy or not well, I should not be able to be happy or well.
We can help others much more effectively by being positive rather than negative when they are not well.
7. My self-worth depends on what others think of me and on how satisfied they are with me.
We then lose our sense of who we are, what we believe and what we want to do with our lives. We waste our lives seeking to be who we believe others want us to be. In the end, we lose our happiness and are usually bitter that after all that self-suppression, we are still not getting from others the love and respect we desire.
8. My self-worth is dependent on how successful my efforts are toward health, happiness, material comfort, social acceptance, professional success, etc.
9. Without the others:
a. I cannot feel safe.
b. I cannot feel socially accepted.
c. I cannot succeed.
d. I cannot enjoy myself.
e. I cannot be sure what to do.
f. I cannot be happy.
10. Others are responsible for my:
Discovering our own Tendencies Toward Codependency
The next step is to determine where exactly who we are expecting to create our happiness, success, and satisfaction, or where we are dependent on others for our feelings of self-worth or security.
Then we need to discover for which people we feel responsible for their health, happiness, success, safety or satisfaction.
Completing the next exercise will help us prepare for putting order to our keys of responsibility.
1. I feel responsible for the following in relationship to the following persons:
(Health, Safety, Happiness, Success, Satisfaction, Self-worth
Perhaps it would be useful here to give some examples of possible answers:
I feel responsible for:
a. My children’s health, safety, happiness, satisfaction, success in life and their behavior toward others.
b. My spouse’s and parents’ happiness and satisfaction.
c. My boss’s satisfaction with my work.
d. My friends’ satisfaction with my friendship.
e. My siblings’ being satisfied with me, and also for their health, happiness and security.
Programmed in this way with the above feelings of responsibility, I cannot feel happy or worthy unless:
a. My children are healthy, safe, successful, happy, satisfied, and are behaving properly toward others.
b. My spouse and parents are happy and satisfied with me.
c. My boss and friends are satisfied with me.
Author: Robert Elias Najemy