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Feeling too responsible for other people


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#1 Pablo

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:06 AM

So I was talking to my psychotherapist and he says that it could be possible that if you have parents who can't handle strong emotions like anger, rage and jealously etc that as a child who is completely dependent on them for love and survival you might start hiding these emotions from a very young age as a means to protect them, so as a baby you actually start to parent your parents and protect them, it could even be something as simple as seeing the look on your mothers face when you get angry which makes you start protecting them.

The fallout from this is that when you are an adult you still feel overly responsible for the way other people feel and you feel other peoples emotional states are your responsibility. Where this leaves you is that you don't know what your own real feelings are having repressed many of your raw emotions and what is your responsibility and what isn't, what is you and what is not you. I feel this may be the case for me as in social situations I often take too much responsibility for the atmosphere and vibe of the situation that I should be correcting things if they aren't right and harmonious and I take on too much how I make other people feel.

Anyone relate to this? take on other peoples stuff too much and get confused about what is yours and what isnt?

#2 violetgirl

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:18 AM

yes! that makes perfect sense to me

since recovering, if anyone even remotely tells me 'just stop thinking about it' or whatever before i'm done expressing myself, i get so aggro.
like i now have the ability to express myself, and i won't tolerate anyone telling me what to think or do. i've gone the total opposite.

like in my family, we had to be 'nice' we were never allowed to talk about our feelings. it was always 'you are this' etc. i didn't grow into my own person.

#3 Pablo

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 09:08 AM

Yeah i'm really trying to work on expressing myself and reminding myself that im not responsible for the way other people feel in social situations, but I keep repeating old patterns, like trying to make people feel better when they are feeling troubling emotions. I always thought I was being compassionate by trying to relieve other peoples suffering and make them feel better but my therapist pointed out that it is more likely that I am trying to stop the way I feel when I see other people in those sorts of states, im actually trying to relieve my own anxiety. So im trying to learn to let people suffer without taking on any responsibility for them, I will listen to them and not ignore them but I try to separate myself as an individual person.

#4 snow storm

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 09:46 AM

Yeah. It can also make it difficult to express anger etc to people cause you want to protect them.

#5 Pablo

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 10:42 AM

Pablo, this is a significant issue and something I'm working on too. After a lifelong habit of this it's hard to refrain from 'caretaking' other people and their emotions. I agree that some of it may be to relieve our own distress at seeing someone in pain or discomfort. I also think that those of us who grapple with this are extra sensitive to other people's emotions, we are empaths. Some things I've found to keep in mind in dealing with this:

1. Try to tolerate the discomfort of other people's discomfort. We're stronger than we think.

2. Figure out who 'owns' the problem. Whoever owns it is ultimately responsible for dealing with it, although we can lend an ear if necessary.

3. Other people are stronger than we think. So many times I've provided help and advice only to find that the person finds their own way in the end.

4. I read somewhere in Buddhist literature that to caretake or rescue someone can interfere with the path they are on, maybe their path is to learn to manage their emotions, and by jumping in, we are preventing their growth.

5. What do I need to do to take care of myself? Something it means conserving emotional energy, stepping back and not giving everything to try to help someone, it's all about balance.


Yes I very much agree, thanks for the great tips. I do think that those of us that do this we are more sensitive and naturally open hearted, but I think it's worth considering how much of it comes from a selfish place, also if you have been raised like this where you have to parent your own parents emotions it can give you a very distorted ego if as a child you have power over your parents states then as an adult you may think you have power over things you don't and it can be quite intrusive to some other people taking on their stuff when they haven't asked you to.

I think now that I am older that we actually keep people weak and in a childlike comfortable place by taking on their emotions, but infact often it is better for them in the long run for us to get angry at them even if it causes them distress or let them suffer without trying to relieve it because then it forces them to face up to it and deal with it themselves, so in a way its tough love to force them to grow up as well even if it is so uncomfortable for us.

#6 surf

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:33 AM

Anyone relate to this?



Absolutely. 100%

#7 babybowrain

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:57 PM

Yes I can relate. But you know I think it still means you are compassionate if you feel anxiety at other people's feelings because some people feel nothing at all and that just seems cold to me.

#8 Dyna

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 01:39 PM

Absolutely. 100%

Me too!

#9 Guest_whatsmyname_*

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 06:13 PM

Thank you!!

#10 howmuchforhappy

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 06:34 AM

I completely relate.

#11 Guest_Delicate_*

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 02:26 AM

I've never really thought about this until today, but I have always been too happy to give advice to people and care for them.... A lot of the time this got taken advantage of. So yeah, I can completely relate.

#12 wise

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:43 AM

I think that some people will take advantage of kindness and empathy, they'll see it as weakness. At the end of the day it's an opportunity for someone unscrupulous to exploit, through scapegoating, projecting and abusing all because there's someone willing to listen to it all. Let's not forget and be too naive, we live in a sadistic twisted world and being too empathetic, well, we're sitting ducks.




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