"Not my problem": when we take too much responsibility
My dear brother posted some new years' resolutions on facebook yesterday. Yes, yes, I know it's March, but hey, never too late, right?
He lives in a pretty wild part of the world at the moment so his resolutions reflected that somewhat. The three things he is trying to do this year are:
1) Not go to jail
2) Not get kidnapped
3) Sneeze less
Now while I know that some people just can't help trying for laughs on facebook, and while I certainly did laugh, it also made me think.
None of those things - including the sneezing - is within my brother's control. Sure, he can do his best to not commit any crimes and he could certainly try to avoid dark alleys at night or places where he might be more likely to be picked up for ransom, and he could, I suppose, vacuum his house and get rid of dust, but really, he can't change it if it happens. He can't control corrupt police, he can't stop kidnappers if they want him and he can't correct an involuntary bodily mechanism - much.
If these things did happen this year, I hope he wouldn't languish in jail (or wherever) thinking, "Oh, I should have tried harder to not get kidnapped!" Because he's not really responsible for that.
Something I've had to learn in my life is that I cannot change things that are not my responsibility.
I have quite a few responsibilities. I need to provide nutritional meals for my family and make sure they get to school, dressed and clean. I have a sub-editing job. I have responsibility to make accurate and helpful changes to manuscripts. These are all things I can do something about myself. I can be responsible for my own use of resources and time.
The things I'm NOT responsible for include: making sure other people are happy or fulfilling their responsibilities, motivating people to do things, changing people's minds or making them want to do certain things.
When I take on responsibilities for other people's feelings or actions, or think that I need to make sure everything around me is smooth and happy and convenient, I get weighed down with anxiety.
One of my favourite phrases is: "NMP." It means "not my problem." I don't say it to be mean, but I do say it to make sure I know exactly what I am responsible for and what I am not.
What responsibilities do you carry which you really don't need to?