Lighten Your Load

 

A characteristic a lot of high achievers have in common is a robust sense of responsibility. You feel responsible to help others when you can, to be the fixer, to have the answers, to make sure things get done the right way—the list goes on. Like most other habits we have, bearing the burden of responsibility becomes so ingrained that you probably don't realize just how much weight you're carrying around. You keep doing what you do until you realize that you're tired. Depleted by being the one the people in your personal and professional life are counting on for more than you can realistically give. 

Of course, I'm not suggesting that you should have no responsibility in life. That's neither practical nor healthy. But there's a tipping point beyond which what you're willing to take on for others is actually harmful for them as well as you. And those are the responsibilities that need to be re-evaluated and dealt with differently. 

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When you've created a pattern of taking on responsibility inside of a relationship, whether personal or professional, several things occur that contribute to the continuation of that pattern. 

  1. You establish yourself as the person who will make it right. 

  2. The other person establishes him-/herself as the one who needs your help to make it right. 

  3. You become overburdened as the other person substitutes your judgment for their own. 

  4. He/she experiences an erosion or continued decline of independence, unable or unwilling to make decisions that aren't directed by you. 

  5. Rinse and repeat. 

It can be easy to allow feelings of guilt or a sense that it's easier to do it yourself than push back enable you to continue with this pattern, but if you instead direct that energy at enabling the independence of the other person while letting go of the burden of responsibility, that's where the magical lightening of the load takes place. It's only easier in the short run for you to do it yourself because it's faster. All it does is add to your load in the long run. 

Here are a few examples to get you thinking about how you may be doing this and how to redirect. 

  1. Someone(s) in your life continually comes to you with questions that they can find the answers to if they try. You provide the answer because it's easier, but are annoyed with how often they come to you without doing their own research. What to do instead: Do the research, come up with answers or options, come back to you with researched answers, you can help refine. Only do this for a little while until they have the confidence they can find the answers on their own.

  2. Someone(s) in your life passes on tasks and activities to you that they are perfectly capable of handling independently. Next time they come to with something that doesn't require your input, tell them to handle it. Period. 

  3. There are people in your life you feel you can't trust to handle things in the way you want so you end up doing it yourself. First, if there is someone who's proven to you they can't be trusted, that must be dealt with accordingly, For instance, if it's an employee and you've been avoiding a tough conversation or taking action, that needs to stop. Do what must be done. But, if that's not the case and it's more of a control issue on your part, that's when detaching from the way something gets done is necessary. Even if it's hard at first, practice letting go of the details and being okay with the discomfort of letting someone else do it their way. 

Healthy detachment lessens your burden while empowering others. As awesome as you are, you must let others learn and grow. Take a step back, give some encouragement, and let the confidence and independence of others grow as you do so.