What is My Responsibility, And What Isn’t?

How To Set Healthy Boundaries.

I’ve been thinking recently about responsibility and boundaries. What is my responsibility? And what isn’t?

A lot of us have unhealthy boundaries. I certainly used to.

I struggled through PTSD between 2018 and 2019. It was the hardest time of my life.

I was a textbook case of trauma: I pushed people away, had panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, tried to numb my mind with substances, and stopped behaving like myself. It was horrendous. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

The thing about trauma and healing is that there’s no magic pill that will cure you. I still struggle sometimes. I go through periods where the nightmares come back, and I get ‘triggered’.

I had to set boundaries with other people, and stick to them. I could no longer take on other people’s responsibilities as my own. I never should have in the first place!

What Helped Me Set Healthy Boundaries.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I’ve had two courses of CBT now, thanks to the wonderful NHS in the UK. My first therapist was unprofessional, and I had to make a complaint. My second therapist, however, was life-changing. Don’t give up on therapy if you don’t find the right therapist the first time!
  • Self-Care. It’s not about pampering yourself, although sometimes that’s great! For me, the most important Self-Care was radical acceptance and self-love, even at the darkest times.
  • Supportive friends and family. They understood that I was struggling and were able to listen, give me space, and push me to get professional help.
  • Medication. Sometimes you do need medication to help with mental illness. This doesn’t make you a failure. I’m still taking medication, nearly two years later.

What is My Responsibility, And What Isn’t?

It’s astounding that I didn’t truly understand what my responsibilities are until my 20's.

I’m 25 now, and I still sometimes blur my boundaries with other people and their responsibilities. This is definitely a journey.

A useful first step for setting healthy boundaries is to consider what your responsibilities are. This is one of the very first things my therapist asked me to write down.

I got a lot of things wrong.

He pointed out which things I had incorrectly claimed were my responsibilities. Understanding this is essential, both for you and for the other people in your life.

I’ve made a simple graphic to highlight what your responsibility is, and what it isn’t:

Taking on other people’s responsibilities as your own leads to unhealthy boundaries.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care or support others — in fact, the opposite.

The problem is when you believe that the responsibilities of your friends, family, or other people you know are yours. Other people’s burdens and responsibilities aren’t yours to carry. You’ve got enough to deal with on your own!

What Is My Responsibility

  • My Actions.
  • My Mistakes.
  • My Words.
  • How I Treat Others.
  • My Ideas.

What Isn’t My Responsibility

  • Other People’s Actions.
  • Other People’s Beliefs.
  • Other People’s Mistakes.
  • Other People’s Words.
  • Other People’s Ideas.

This isn’t an exhaustive list! Have a think about what your responsibilities are, and what they aren’t.

Here’s the key point to remember: set healthy boundaries, and stop taking on other people’s responsibility as your own. When you do this, you will provide better emotional support for your loved ones.

Write about it in a journal. I really recommend writing down your thoughts. Journalling truly does help with mental health and mindfulness. The simple act of taking time to reflect on your thoughts is powerful for self-care and personal growth. I swear by it.

Have you ever thought about what your responsibilities are, and what they aren’t?

Originally published at https://emilyunderworld.co.uk. Printable version of the graphic available on author’s website.

Melancholy creative who wishes she owned an apothecary. https://emilyunderworld.co.uk

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store