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Feeling Responsible for Others' Feelings

- Feeling guilty when someone else is upset

- Making sure everyone in a social situation is having a good time

- Trying to make things better for someone having a hard time

- Thinking over conversations constantly, hoping you didn't offend someone

- Being overly sensitive to others' reactions

- Picking up someone else's slack at work so they don't look bad

- Inability to say "no"

Does this sound like you?

If it does, you can know that you're not alone, and that you don't HAVE to feel like this. Many of these over-responsible feelings can be a result of emotional neglect - perhaps from childhood.

When we experience emotional neglect, it means that our feelings are overlooked, unvalidated, or less-important than someone else's. This can lead to you feeling disconnected from yourself, ignoring your own feelings, or unable to speak up for yourself. You learned, somewhere along the way, that your feelings were less important than other's.

And so, you became overly-responsible. You started believing that other people's feelings and actions were somehow related to you. You began noticing every little change in mood or behavior. You tried to cater to other's needs before something "bad" happened. You want others to be happy and enjoy things, while you sit in the corner and stew over every little word.

If this is you - I'm sure you already know all of the little things that you do. Let's talk about some ways you might be able to change things, care for your own needs, and let go of the immense burden you give yourself.

  1. Learn to say no. This can be really hard, especially when you're worried that someone else might be disappointed or put-out. Remember, you don't have to do everything - you can't!

  2. Practice this: "I am not responsible for how other people feel." It might seem obvious, but your actions prove that you don't believe this. Remind yourself that the only person you really have control over is YOU. No matter how much you worry or fuss, you can never really change how someone else feels.

  3. "I'm allowed to make mistakes." A lot of these responsibilities make you feel like you aren't allowed to be human. You might worry that you have said something "wrong" or made someone upset in some manner. If you did, which you might, remind yourself that you are just like anyone else!

  4. "What do I need?" It might feel scary to ask this, it might make you feel "self centered". Not true! It's good to think about your own needs and feelings, especially in relationships with others. Being able to communicate your needs opens the door to vulnerability and connection.

If you struggle with the effects of emotional neglect, be sure you get some help! You don't have to live with this crazy responsibility - you can change it!

As a Cognitive Behavioral Coach, I can help you get back on track. Feel free to schedule a free consultation call with me!

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