Responsibility. That word sure does bring up some funky junk, if I do say so myself. What comes to my mind is a stern-faced boring person, making me do things I really don't want to do. It's got this daunting energy... it makes me feel like sighing. Though, I will say that even with my unpleasant associations, there are some things about responsibility that I can really get behind, especially as it relates to giving it fully to myself. The more I mature, the greater becomes my willingness to live my life in a way that honors how much responsibility I have... over things like, my health, and getting my social and emotional needs met, and making sure that I’m working enough but not too much so that I'm earning what I need to live a lifestyle that suits me while also getting enough sleep and movement and playtime and fresh air in my lungs. It feels crazy empowering to tune into myself and discover what my needs are, be an advocate for them, and show up for myself when it matters. That’s some golden gravy goodness in the responsibility realm right there.
And then there's this aspect of responsibility that I'm not so keen on, yet have been unknowingly participating in since about age three, as it turns out. I think this is what one might call a blindspot. My blindspot has been to unconsciously feel responsible for the needs, health, growth, happiness, you name it, of other people. I literally had no idea I was doing this. Until I did, and then could recognize all of the subtle and obvious ways it’s been playing out all this time. I’m still unpacking layers of this fresh awareness, and am having to call on lots of self-forgiveness during this excavation process, so bear with me here.
I was illuminated to this particular pattern of mine in a recent healing session with a shamanic practitioner, during what is called a Soul Retrieval. In a Soul Retrieval session, a shaman drums and rattles over and around your body while journeying to an alternate realm to retrieve any parts of your soul that have fled your body in moments of trauma. Keep in mind, trauma is relative, so being harshly reprimanded as a little kiddo could be enough to cause the soul to fragment up and out, searching for a safer place to go hang out. More often than not, our soul’s begin to fragment when we are quite young, which then creates patterns of dysfunction, unconscious obstacles, and stuckness on our paths. That is until those patterns are seen, understood, forgiven, and loved back into wholeness. It’s safe to say that we have all experienced some degree of soul loss. And it’s also important to note that we all have the capacity to retrieve our soul parts by doing our inner work. Shamanism is a route, and I’ve found it to be a powerful supplement to other healing adventures and modalities. In certain spiritual schools of thought, soul loss is recognized as the root cause of disease, disorders, depression, and anxiety. It makes sense to me that parts of our soul get the hell out of Dodge to lessen the impact of frightening moments when we are precious, vulnerable, fresh, new flowers of life. And it also makes sense that when we are operating at partial soul capacity-- our growth, energy, physical health, and ability to call in and maintain meaningful relationships are limited, so getting back to being as whole-souled as possible is a really big and important thing to do.
In my Soul Retrieval session, the shaman, her name is Jana, journeyed to my 3-year-old self. She saw a little girl feeling really responsible for the emotional and physical unrest unfolding around her. This is something that children do naturally, and the more sensitive they are, the more they are likely to internalize and absorb the strife of others. And so, my tiny, innocent, precious little self interpreted everyone’s problems as mine to somehow fix. This included a father on his deathbed, a sister with serious health problems, and a mom who was overworked and overwhelmed and learning really hard lessons about love and loss. None of which were problems that a 3-year-old could do anything about.
Through all the inner healing work I’ve done over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what’s mine, and what’s not, the strength and pliability of my boundaries, what’s in my personal power and control, and what I get to turn over to God-Energy-Love-Universe. And still, I needed this lesson at this particular moment in time because there are still traces where the tendency to take responsibility for other people’s ish shows up, which is ultimately depleting on my energy supply and takes me away from my sacred mission, and my responsibility to my own damn self which is the only responsibility that is actually truly mine (which includes my two fur babies).
By examining this pattern over the past couple of weeks, I’ve discovered a potpourri of flavors in which it has played out in my life. There are probably more to uncover yet, but this is where I’m at. And so, to be really freaking clear...
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR:
*Doing things to appease others when it doesn’t actually appease me. In other words, saying yes to something I don’t want to do to protect someone else’s feelings.
*Being too involved and invested in transforming an adult human being’s health, emotional, and/or lifestyle habits -- especially (and primarily) those of my intimate partners.
*Making sure that everyone in a casual group hangout or conversation feels comfortable, seen, safe and heard. (empath problems).
*Giving advice when it’s not requested.
*Anyone's negative attitude, aloofness, stress, or inability to show up.
Not my problemo yo.
In all of these situations, I can guarantee you that at least one or more people (which includes myself) are experiencing frustration, annoyance, resentment and/or disempowerment. And that is just not good juju to be fostering!
The other thing that happens when we try and fix other people’s lives, or protect other people’s feelings at the expense of our own, or internalize other people's limitations as some kind of reflection of ourselves, is we rob them of their soul’s perfect lessons and karma that they signed up to learn in this lifetime. Enabling is not a compassionate act. And if we try and fix it for them or take it on as ours, they will on some level a) resent us for not believing in their capabilities and power, and b) stay stuck in their limiting patterns because they need to fix their own shit to move on to the next level.
So instead of being responsible for fixing/solving/taking on other people's stuff, what I am rather is:
*A sacred witness to their beauty and process.
*A compadre/guide/confidant/cheerleader on the path to wholeness.
This goes for friends, family, clients, romantic partners, strangers. E’ry body.
And so it is.
May All Soul Parts Everywhere Return Home.