Boundaries: You Are (Not) Responsible

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that you aren’t responsible for the happiness of your partner, spouse, family or friends. They are responsible for their own happiness. So phew, you can stop juggling that ball!

The bad news is the exact opposite of that; your happiness is your responsibility, no one else’s. In case I walked in on you blaming your parents, friends or the world for your problems. I know I know, life’s tough and so unfair! Tell me about it!

To break that down, you’re the one that has to create the boundaries in your life to not take on other peoples issues and problems. But that also means you also can’t blame anyone else and remember that your happiness falls on your shoulders. It’s one of those damn two way streets…

These two things sound simple in theory, but I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to put it into practise. This year has been a lot of learning how to for me.

You and I are different people and I don’t know your story. Maybe you have healthy relationships with every one in your life and you’re the King or Queen of boundaries. Though with all the angry, broken and selfish hearts roaming the streets, you and I included, I doubt that very much.

My story is that I spent years carrying people because I’m a rescuer. Growing up I wanted to make everyone happy and couldn’t stand to see the ones I love upset or hurt.  I’d run circles mentally and emotionally trying to fix everyone and everything. Angry at myself when I couldn’t, as if somehow I was lacking. The truth is that I was just a kid taking on responsibility that wasn’t mine to bear, and that no one has asked me to.

There’s compassion and empathy which is in our human nature. However, without clear boundaries  it can quickly turn into unhealthy rescuing. Pair that up with being a people pleaser (which is more or less most people, in varying degrees) and you have a very burdened person who is always fretting for someone else. Fretting for someone that has a mind, heart and the free will to make decisions for their lives. It’s interesting how often I forget this.

We all have within us the capacity to choose. Some people make good choices, others not so good. Whether you are making the bad decisions or watching someone else do it, look after you and do your life well. That’s the best thing you can do. You’re a better asset to the world and your future that way, not to mention your present life.

I’ve made some good decisions and some bad ones too, and they bought me here, to this very place in my life where I am totally humbled and deeply happy. I’m looking after me and making decisions that I hope will inspire others, but I can’t make them for anyone else. You are always being watched, remember that. Be an example to those who look up to you even if you never see who those people are.

When I was in a relationship, making my boyfriend happy stressed me out. I saw it as my job, my role to be his constant provider of joy. It was hard work for one reason: I was taking his whole life into my hands and buckling under the pressure, when I didn’t need to. He never asked me to. I just thought that’s how it went; that from day one it was my job to make him happy.

Obviously it came from a place of love and because I wanted to make this person happy, but that’s not what relationships are for! Romantic, friendship or family based; it doesn’t matter. Human relationships are to share, come alongside, support, uplift, love, bounce off and have fun with each other. To enjoy life together! They are a source of happiness, of course, but I believe that’s ones own responsibility. Not the people that they do life with.

I want to fix, please and encourage. I can absolutely encourage, but I will only die trying to do the other two. I will never fix anyone or please everyone.

Do your life well and empower others to do their lives well, but don’t do try to do it for them. Your happiness is on your shoulders and you have everything it takes to tackle the daily curve balls of life.

They are responsible for them and you are responsible for you.

Does any of this strike a chord with you? Have you experienced the burden of making someone else happy, or have you blamed other people? 


8 thoughts on “Boundaries: You Are (Not) Responsible

  1. This was such a great post and I really appreciate your honesty! I can relate to a lot of this, especially the line “I want to fix, please and encourage.” Lately I’ve been trying to be encouraging online, which isn’t bad in itself, but I always give myself a hard time when I’m too tired/sick/sad to comment on blogs or reply to tweets. So glad your happiness does not depend on my comments ;)

  2. You’re absolutely right. Human relationships are to support and uplift each other, and to enjoy life together. But the line can be so hard to draw. Do you throw in the towel when making someone happy is making you unhappy?

    It all seems very cold and calculated when you have to weigh up your relationship and analyse how much each person puts in and gets out of it. I guess by the time you’re looking at things that way, you’re probably not in a healthy relationship. Time to move on and find love that really works – when you’re together, you never stop making each other better and happier people.

    • Trading your happiness for someone else’s is never worth it. However, love is messy. It only really works in the long run when two people commit to it. If they are making each other unhappy for an extended period of time and it really just is NOT working, then yeah, maybe time to move on.

  3. Oh my gosh, this post is me all over. I have a passion for this topic, because it is so easy to get caught up in trying to keep other people happy, or conversely, blaming everyone else for not being happy. When I was with my ex-boyfriend, (there were a LOT of problems, but I’ll touch on just this one) I held him responsible for the fact that I was miserable. Admittedly, he didn’t help – thus being an ex – but I put all the responsibility in his hands. Now that I’m deliriously happy in my life, I realise how warped that was, and I am trying to develop good boundaries. A wonderful book that covers this topic (Although you have done an admirable job of summarizing the whole book) is “Boundaries” by Dr. John Townsend & Dr. Henry Cloud.

    • Totally! This is a big thing for me right now! I started Boundaries but never finished it. Need to pick it up again as it’s very good! Thanks for commenting, Michelle :)

      And I’m so glad to hear you’re really happy and doing well!

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