As a reader of my blog you will easily identify the title of this post as the subtitle of my blog, right? I’m writing about it today because of a very interesting conversation I’ve had recently with a friend of mine. We were talking about my blog and I was showing it to her as she was neither aware of the blog nor did she read any of my posts yet, of course. However, I introduced it to her because she most importantly is a really nice person and also a very experienced marketing
professional with very good views on daily life and business. I do value her very much both as a human being and a professional. So we were talking, she gave me some feedback and all was very nice, positive and helpful Very good inspiration and professional input. But at one point in time she said: “But Markus, I absolutely disagree with the subtitle of your blog! I think it’s completely the opposite!” Wow, that was a very strong statement and I was absolutely surprised. Why?
That’s easy: When I’ve set up the Blog and created the title, to me it was absolutely clear. If everybody in life would take care of himself then life can be almost fun. Mostly and even difficult situations, put into the right relative, will just turn into ‘a part of the game’. When I say ‘taking care of oneself’ I’m not talking about selfishness. I’m convinced that it neither increases our satisfaction in life nor it would makes us better humans. Oppositely, helping others can be extremely satisfying and is definitely worth to make it a principle in your life.
However, my friend was thinking about it in a different way. She herself is in a really difficult situation herself. No need to go into the details here. But, her life is really challenging and she must consider so many things permanently to make her life enjoyable. She said that she cares a lot about herself and her life is still difficult. Then she told me about her cousin who travels around, does whatever he wants to do and is only enjoying his life on full speed. Aahh, now I understood where she was coming from. Very interesting!
Also, she said that she is that kind of person who feels to take over responsibility for everybody and everything. A person who feels bad when she isn’t able to deliver when she was supposed to deliver, whether she was in control or not, whether the reason was serious, or only an excuse. It is just this kind of “I feel guilty for everything bad that happens in the World or to somebody, hence I must help everybody”.
That gave me some clarity about her interpretation and it happens so often with so many people. Sometimes with big issues, sometimes for little things. But that doesn’t matter because it has the same impact on a human beings health condition. That behavior creates a slowly increasing level of dissatisfaction and frustration and often people themselves don’t realize this happening and even not the consequences. Why? They don’t perceive it as such because many people are not sensitive to it or feel unable to change. And the longer this circumstance remains, the stronger the impact is on the health condition. The outcomes can be very serious e.g. can lead to the Burn-Out syndrome, depression or, even worse, into suicide.
In psychology this behavior is called codependency. Codependency describes a phenomenon with people who are taking responsibility for incidents or situations they are not responsible for, or they cannot control. The reaction to it is like: “I take all the burdens to make sure everybody else is doing or feeling well”. The problem with it is basically, that all the energy a human being has, is spent to solve problems which are not problems of themselves, which cannot solved by them and finally NO energy remains for oneself. BUT the feeling, the perception of what has been done is the same: I did my job, I did something good, I’m a good human even though I didn’t care of myself, my problems and my life!
Life’s of people with this behavior getting absolutely out of balance. Their definition of ‘being responsible’ has been turned into the complete opposite as it is supposed to be. We have to take responsibility for OUR lives FIRST. This is true for everybody. Again, I’d like to repeat myself for this: I’m not talking about and/or meaning selfishness! Taking care of oneself means doing things and focusing the energy onto things that lead to a well feeling for oneself, without hurting or damaging anybody else. Helping others can be part of it but, again, we can’t take responsibility for their problem. As an example, if a person has problems in his/her job, then we can listen and try to understand the reasons, backgrounds etc. and perhaps we can advise (even though I would recommend to only reflect the situation and to guide the person to find the solution themselves). But we cannot take the responsibility because we’re not in their position and role, hence, we cannot control and finally it’s not us.
If we take care for our life then we’re busy enough and we’re not selfish. We do want to keep ourselves in a good condition and invest our energy at the right place on the right level. This, well handled, leaves us plenty of opportunities to help others by being present and willing to listen. Responsibility is left with them. Finally, our Life becomes EASIER because we CARED!
HELP means HELP, not being RESPONSIBLE!
- Everybody is responsible for himself/herself, for what himself/herself is doing and for the consequences out of that.
- Help means Help, not taking responsibility for what somebody else has done or what one cannot control.
- Help means helping in difficult situations, not taking the ‘garbage’ away.
- Taking responsibility for oneself is and means self-responsibility.
- All, that one is doing for himself/herself is only the right thing to do as long as nobody else suffers.
- A Good thing is, when the outcome of something being done is Good for everybody involved.