Every family is its own story, what role do you play in yours?

Why is it as adults, that when we talk about being responsible, the mood drops? And why over 50% of the population avoids things like home ownership or having children for the mere fact of being concerned over the ‘responsibility’ of it? How has responsibility has become such a dirty word?

We tend to polarize between being care-free or being stressed-out responsible as if it has to be one way or the other. I think there is another way.

In my psychotherapy practice, I observe and surmise that it is one’s relationship to responsibility that causes the stress rather than the commitment itself. This applies to owning property, raising children and everything in between. We need to change our attitude to change the experience.

“I think of responsibility as response-ability, the ability to respond.” SARK

How we talk to ourselves makes a big difference between burden and joy. The words ‘I have to’ or ‘I should’ most often come before common responsibilities such as…clean the house, make the kids’ lunch, or plan the summer vacation. This language brings out our inner teenager, who doesn’t like being told what to do. The result is to feel oppressed by our own strict inner parenting.

Instead, try inviting yourself to the task in a way that suits your needs in the moment. Mowing the lawn can be fun if you design it that way.

We spend time orchestrating the perfect date, adventurous vacation or a dinner party with just the right food and people. Why don’t we place that same pleasure focused attention onto taking care of responsibilities?

A few years back, my taxes were causing me a lot of stress. I recognized that I was the one in charge of how I felt about them. I decided to take my taxes and computer out for a glass of wine, to infuse the examination of numbers with a pleasurable environment and less pressure.

The cool thing about being an adult is that we get to do it our way. Despite this, many of us keep doing the things that need doing in a heavy handed and oppressive manner.

Also, we often approach being responsible with being only linear. When things don’t go exactly as the linear plan is laid out, we feel constriction and stress. Adding flow and play to our approach, can lead to a more fulfilling relationship to being responsible.

For example, I don’t like to clean my house in a linear manner, as my preferences frequently change. I first ask myself what would feel good to help me with this task. Recently, I put on my wireless headphones, clicked on my favorite pandora station, and started with organizing my cupboards. How we do it one day, doesn’t mean it will feel just as right the next. Just like taking a walk, having sex or hanging out with friends. This way, we can meet ourselves in the now rather than a script of the ‘right’ thing to do.

We could all use a little brightening and lightening up in our relationship to responsibility. It’s simply more fun that way.

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Valerie Tate

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