How responsible are you and have you got the balance?  

Some people are scared of responsibility.  Others take on too much and it becomes stressful and draining.  

It can happen in business, as a parent, in relationships, when you volunteer and when you provide any kind of professional advice, coaching or therapy. 

This article provides insights into what's going on for you. Sometimes changing can be really easy and sometimes there's a deeper source which may need attention for an easy shift to happen.

So grab your cuppa and read on!   

It can take as little as 5 minutes to help you discover what’s going on for you with responsibility - if it's enough - or too much, and what you can do about redressing the balance.  

Fi head shot low res   Fiona Sutherland Coach, Founder of TPM Europe and Great Transfromations   

Mini Exercise 1. 

Consider which apply to you, and ask yourself which responsibilities do you enjoy and which are a burden?   

Delivering a work project

Sorting / dividing the restaurant bill

Organising and preparing Sunday lunch

Chairing a meeting or facilitating an event

Taking action to respond to human rights abuses

Organising social events/ walk/ meal out/ party / holiday 


Your health (do you take care of your body or wait till there’s a problem and then ask professionals to fix it for you)

Making money / generating business

Your finances / your families keeping it all in order/ budgeting

Your relationship with significant other(s) in your life.  

Keeping the house tidy and in order


Looking after a friend or family who’s in need

Sending birthday cards etc and keeping in touch with friends  

Overseeing children’s homework

Driving a car / boat / caravan    

Sharing knowledge / teaching / giving professional advice to others 



Do you avoid responsibility?

Do you find you shy away from taking responsibility? Not want to take things on or actually fear them. If so, there may be a pattern going on. I met a lady who became scared to drive a car. It began as soon as she had her first baby in hospital. It was linked to the fear of the responsibility of looking after that child and keeping them safe.  She had learned somewhere in the past that responsibility was too much for her.  This old fear was restricting her life. 

Other people fear that they are stupid, or not good enough and they miss out by not putting themselves forward.  In Thought Pattern Management I’d help them reprogram the reference memories that have led to their generalised conclusion. It could have been something a teacher or parent said and the child took it on as true without question - as children do.  We sometimes need to stop battling with ourself and upgrade our programming to allow us to live more freely in the now. 

Fotolia 31315773 M Taming brain

When responsibility IS good for us

It’s rewarding to be the one who’s responsible for making something happen. We like to influence things, to create and make a difference.  When we do a good job we get recognition.  Our egos like to be stroked and inside we are still like little kids who love to get a gold star. 

Positive psychology has found that people who contribute in some way to help others are generally happier than those who don’t.  Giving makes us happy. I know my Auntie gets very overwhelmed by paperwork and anything to do with finances. I’m pleased that as her power of attorney I can take all those worries away from her. Also, because I used to be a financial adviser it’s a responsibility I can perform easily with minimal effort. It's a good match. 


There can come a point when the responsibility becomes too much. 

Our threshold tips when we have too much responsibility. It could be we’ve taken on the things that overstretch us.  Such as a role or project that’s right outside our comfort zone. Or the actual projects may each be achievable it’s just the sheer volume of them that makes them overwhelming. 

Either way, here are some symptoms 

Mini Exercise 2.  Which symptoms apply to you? 

Feeling overwhelmed



Fed up

Bad tempered

Taken for granted

Aversion to tackling a job/project

Wishing to do activities that require little attention (eg watching TV)  

Fearful that we will fail so we are scared to take on the responsibility in the first place  


So if you’ve taken on too much responsibility what can you do about it? 

The best thing is to be very aware of what you say yes to in the first place. 

It’s good to grow and stretch, but when what’s required of you is right outside your comfort zone, or when you don’t have adequate resources, or when the results are partly dependent on others doing things and they are not accountable, is a recipe for stress.  

tool box iStock 000011703762XSmallbought2.8.12 

Here's a useful process you can use

Ask yourself.


Q. Do I have the skills / knowledge / resources to do this?

Q. Is this best use of my time and energy?

Q. It’s within my control and influence?   

Q. No one else COULD do this?

Q. Is it important that I do it?

Q. Is this something I would enjoy?


If you have answered NO to some and you still feel you have to do it then maybe it's a work or parent thing that you have to do - or maybe you have fallen into a bit of a martyr or control or other pattern (see below).

If you really HAVE to take on responsibility, because no one else will and it MUST be done, ask yourself how can I make it easier for me?

At home, if you are a nervous chef, don’t take on responsibility to host a dinner party with complicated homemade dishes for every course. Instead do one course you have practiced and buy the others ready-made. It will be much more manageable and enjoyable for you. Do what's fun - your responsibility is to make your guests feel comfortable - not to produce a gourmet meal!

In any context at work, home, volunteering what are the bits you can manage easily and what can you delegate? 

If you need co-operation from others to achieve something you might want to make sure there are scheduled review meetings and clear accountabilities/expectations from the outset.   

signpost iStock 000010828462XSmallbought2.8.12 copy

Could you have become over-controlling or a bit of a martyr? 

If you take on responsibility then it means others can’t. You take their power away. This could be because you are running a pattern that others can't do it as well as you can. Perfectionists struggle to let go. You fear they will make a mistake and it will have a knock on effect on you/your business/your reputation and you will lose everything.  Or maybe there is some other underlying unconscious fear? 

If you enjoy being a perfectionist workaholic with low staff morale then carry on. 

If you enjoy being a martyr and doing everything for everyone then carry on.

If you want to change this - give me a call!  Often we are not aware why we do this and we can try and make logical excuses for the behaviour but often the real source of the pattern is from the past.   With Thought Pattern Management and Theta Healing ( another modality I also use), this can be changed very quickly.  


Is it misplaced responsibility?  Parents, solicitors, financial advisers, coaches, therapists,

all advisers + helpers - beware!

I do feel for parents who want their kids to study and do homework. You may feel responsible for them, yet ultimately they have to learn to take responsibility for themselves.  I heard an interesting statistic that kids from comprehensive schools are more likely to complete their degree compared to kids who go to schools with lots of extra homework and monitoring. The ones with the structure struggle when it’s all up to them at Uni. 

Some adults were told when they were much younger that they had to look after younger siblings.  Sometimes a child may also take on misplaced responsibility to look after a parent (eg if the parent was struggling in some way). These patterns, if not checked, can continue into adulthood and the adult automatically feels it's their responsibility to take care of everyone else and forget their own needs. They find it difficult to switch off responsibility.  This can be changed by lots of talking therapy or some of the other methods of chaining unwanted patterns. Apply your own wisdom to what's right for you. 

Appreciate the privileged position you are in to hold responsibility 

Parents, teachers, Doctors, and other professional advisers and therapists, you have massive influence over others. Others look to you to guide them with your knowledge. If they could do it themselves they would. They pay you and in many ways look up to you. It's built into our psyche to believe what experts like Drs and others tell us. When I was an IFA my farmer clients would dress in their best suits to come and see me they held me in such high regard.  Giving advice is a big responsibility it's also a privilege, because your knowledge can make a big difference.  

Do you recognise that it’s an honour to be in this position?

I do with every client. Whatever you do as you serve others, do it with grace and responsibility, you can make a huge difference.   

I also have sign to remind me and my clients to not believe anything unless it's right for them. 

Believe nothing IMG 3119


Could you be a bit of a people pleaser who’s scared to say no?

Q. Do you find it hard to say no even when you know you don’t want to do something?

Q. Do you find it difficult to ask others to do something for you in case you might offend them?

Q. Do you enjoy the recognition from others when you do things?


Sometimes we fall into the habit of taking responsibility when we should say no

You know that phrase - if you want to find a volunteer to do something - ask a busy person.  It’s fine if those busy people know when to say no.  

Unfortunately, some may like the positive acknowledgement so they take on too much. Sometimes people find it challenging to say no and take on things that they don’t have the time or resources to deal with - yet they are still wanting it to go well so they have the double whammy of pressure to deliver.   

It's a very valuable skill to be able to say no because by saying no to one thing you are saying yes to something else - like peace, relaxation, balance, time with loved ones.  Only you can know what is a truly valuable use of your time.   Only you can know if you are at that choice or are feeling the fear to say no. 

Gold man on hamster wheel Fotolia 6005764 S 

Is taking responsibility a habit you’ve fallen into linked to serving others?

I noticed that I had fallen into the pattern of volunteering to be the responsible one in lots of ways. 

I’d sort out practical things for my elderly Mum instead of sharing the responsibility with others. I’d offer to do things automatically for groups I’m involved with.

I’d organise the social events. I’d sort the bill at the end of a meal out or taxi ride - that is until I made a conscious decision to leave it to others sometimes.


***  Here’s the thing 

We all follow patterns that are almost unconscious and it's good to check in if they are what we really want.   ***

In many contexts I AM very happy to use my talents to be of service to others as a coach, a trainer, a landlord, daughter and power of attorney. But I think my unconscious mind got carried away and started applying this ‘be of service’ pattern to more and more contexts. I forgot to check first and ended up taking on a few too many things.  If you work with clients - check that they have not fallen into a similar pattern. 

As soon as I became aware, I stopped volunteering so much. Started delegating more and asking others do things instead of me. Change can be easy and I'm feeling better for it.  


Priorities change 

Sometimes priorities change over time. What we want to put our time and energy into changes and we may need to catch up by changing something. For example A client I coached who used to thrive on the multi-million pound initiatives she led, became emotionally intelligent enough to recognise that she’d proved herself, made good money and now wanted a quieter, easier career with less responsibility and more time to play. 


Mini Process 3 getting the balance right for you

Reflect on what you've learned and decide what you wan to be different 

What do you want to stop/start taking responsibility for?

Awareness is the first step to change.  

You have had some things to consider

What do you want to change?  Jot them down somewhere - it proved to you and the world energetically that you intend to do something about it. 


NB   If after becoming aware you want to change this and you still can’t, it may be you are being affected by a past oath, vow, experience or promise of self sacrifice or service. Get in touch as this can be cleared easily and quickly when you know how.  


I do hope you this helps you get your balance right for you

Best wishes 

Fiona Sutherland

For more info on the Thought Pattern Management and up coming training and free videos got to 

For info on coaching

or call me 01202 671954