Taking responsibility for other people’s experiences? Exhausting. Absolutely, positively, exhausting.
Also? It doesn’t work.
It looks like this: people tell you that you are “too much” of something, so you tone it down. That’s taking responsibility for their experience.
It looks like this: people tell you that you are “not enough” of something, so you try to…be better. That’s also taking responsibility for their experience.
What gets missed, in there? Your experience. Your sense of “here’s who I want to be” and how you want to live.
Feedback vs. Taking Responsibility
But aren’t we supposed to listen to feedback? people think. Wouldn’t it be narcissistic to discount the feelings of others?
Totally. We need to take feedback into account, especially when it shows up as a chronic pattern, over time.
But here’s the thing: we are not 100% responsible for the experiences of others. We can never edit ourselves enough to be likable for all. And on the flip side, when others have a positive experience of us, it becomes dysfunctional to let this inflate our sense of self-importance, too much. If we allow others to put us on a pedestal in any way, or all ourselves to rely too much on their approval, we set ourselves up for the most devastating kind of failure.
The reality is that we cannot be responsible for another person’s experience.
All we can do is show up with my hearts as open as possible, and do our best, and hope that we will be seen for our intentions as well as accepted for our humanity.
The flip-side is that if you are not responsible for other people’s experience of you…then you need to accept that others are not responsible for your experience, either. In other words? We can’t say to someone who has just told us we are responsible for their life’s disappointments, “Well, that’s the experience you’re choosing and I’m not responsible for that,” and then…turn around and tell someone else, “If you had done things differently, I wouldn’t feel so disappointed, right now.”
To release ourselves from being responsible for other people’s experience of life–to give up the rigged system of endlessly trying to please and inevitably failing at least some of the time–means no longer putting that pressure on anyone else, either.
My life + my choices to view behavior through a certain lens = my experience. Same goes, for everyone else.
Putting either favor or blame entirely on someone else’s shoulders is nothing more than drama–and distraction from creating something positive. When we stop making anyone else responsible for how we feel about our lives, we free up enormous creative energy.
What would it be like to walk fully in the shoes of responsibility for your life, your choices? If it were not someone or something else’s fault that some experience, or something in your life looks the way it looks, what would your life be?
These are the interesting questions when we start owning our own lives–our choices, what we put out into the world, where we show up. This is it–your life–and whether or not it’s a “good” one will remain, always, wholeheartedly up to you.