The simple answer is that we are responsible for ourselves. However, the reality is more complex. We have feelings, and they need to be validated because they are our feelings – both positive and negative. Often we grow up feeling responsible for the feelings of others, and we also expect others to take responsibility for the ‘hurt’ they have caused us e.g. ‘you make me so angry’, you have upset me’ etc.
But, we are responsible for how we behave in response to how we feel. No-one else is responsible for our behaviour. We can blame others, and indeed the way others behave may have left us feeling many things over the years e.g. not good enough, rejected, a disappointment. But these are our feelings and we need to work through the hurt and pain to reclaim our own lives and wellbeing. Often we need support to achieve this. You cannot change another person – we can only change ourselves. They touch a trigger in us and we get angry, hurt, upset etc. These are our feelings, and we have to own our subsequent behaviour in how we deal with the situation, and how we get our needs met.
We have responsibilities to others, but we are not responsible for their behaviour. Example – someone is upset by what you say. They sulk, don’t speak to you. You know something has upset them, but you have to guess what it is. Or not. You are not responsible for their behaviour in response to how they feel. To ‘rescue’ a person in this situation keeps the drama going and allows them to feel a victim. You feel a need to make things better for them, and they remain a victim because they are not resolving the situation for themselves nor learning to take responsibility for themselves. This, of course, applies to our behaviour as well.
We have feelings for a reason. They tell us what feels ok and not ok for us. We need to ask ourselves what we need to do to make us feel better about the situation; we have to own this ourselves, not project it onto someone else.