A few words about the pressure of responsibility, and finding ways to cope when things are getting very tricky.

Hello and welcome to the quiet corner. Pull up a chair, have a natter.

This week, I’m thinking about responsibility. A small noun for such a big thing. We all have it, to varying degrees. How we accept it, deal with, pass the buck on it remains up to us. Sometimes we really don’t want it, but have to shoulder it anyway.

The great god Google defines responsibility as follows:

  • the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
  • the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something

Sometimes these two definitions merge into one another. It comes at us from all angles: family, work, friends. Raising children safely and is as positive a manner as you can. Collective responsibility, such as the common wearing of masks in public spaces. Individual responsibility for our own health and wellbeing. Agreement on the best way forward to protect someone you love.

Some people assume responsibility like a mantle, they take control, order the players on the chess board into what they believe will be the most effective solution to a problem.

Other people can find it much harder. Some issues are so heart breaking or difficult that it isn’t easy to process them, let alone deal with the consequences. They may need help. They might be drowning.

Humans are messy, complicated. They don’t stay in their squares; they don’t follow set rules and patterns. They have independence of thought, that can cause conflict and unease. In difficult circumstances it can be hard to acknowledge this and come together from a common place. There can be a lot of chessboards flipped skywards.

The dynamics of what makes us human can bring us into conflict over the best course of action. It causes sleepless nights. Conflict and family brawls. Taking responsibility for another person’s wellbeing should not mean forcing your ideals or way of life upon them.

Room should be made to accommodate the wishes of others. If someone has gone through life hating tomatoes, they won’t start liking them because another person tells them they’re good for them, and that they will be in every meal from now on. They’re more likely to throw the tomato at the wall. Or the person who insists on giving it to them.

We all shoulder responsibility in different ways. Sometimes it becomes too much. I’ve been feeling that this month (year, forever). I don’t hesitate to take it up to protect someone or act in their best interests when I need too; what I’m struggling to deal with is the criticism, the chattering voices, the outside voices of others who don’t have to deal with my everyday concerns. My own sense of inadequacy, my own limitations, both physical and imposed by distance are fed by this, amplified and I find myself hung on a hook of definition number 2. To blame.

How to deal? Well, it’s back to my old faithful bullet journal. My to-do lists. To break everything down into component parts to be ticked off one by one, until they make a whole. To ensure that these actions include the views of others. Because I can’t deal alone, this time. Some issues are bigger than the individual.

And that’s hard. To admit this is bigger than me. To loosen up the reins and accept outside input and help. To gently dampen down the more strident voices while finding a middle ground that pleases as many people as possible. While not forgetting the primary goal is to ensure the wellbeing of a vulnerable person.

I’m so very lucky in life, to have good support, good friends, a wonderful partner with whom to screech into the void with. Family help too. If you find yourself in a similar situation as me, I hope there’s someone you can turn to for support. A way you have devised to take the pressure off (feel free to share below the line). Because responsibility is huge. It has many tentacles, pressing at many sore spots. It also has its rewards.

And if you are aware of someone you know who may be struggling right now, send them a message, a hello, a quick thought. It genuinely helps.

Thanks for reading, and wishing you all a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend.

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