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My Stay Puft Marshmallow Monster

I am super responsible.

I’m the kind of person that you want to do a project with because you can count on me to get my sh*t done. No matter what the cost to me personally or how late I have to stay up I am not going to let you down.

In some respects that is a good quality and I am proud of it.

Sometimes it’s like the Stay Puft Marshmallow guy at the end of Ghostbusters and grows to epic proportions….meaning my sense of responsibility grows well beyond what is actually mine to handle.

That is not a good thing. It usually results in me feeling like I’m on a spin cycle trying to handle everything which leads to me being short with myself and those around me; feeling overwhelmed and generally not pleasant to be around.

I want to be clear, I don’t take this on because other people have put it on me. I do it because as I’ve said many times before I am a recovering good girl-perfectionist-people pleaser. That is the side of my personality that drives me to take on obligations, activities, perceptions or outcomes that are not mine and frankly that I usually have no control over.

My awareness of this tendency and recognizing whose business I am in has helped with this tremendously. If you don’t know what I’m talking about author and thought leader Byron Katie (whom I love) says that we cannot control the thoughts or actions of another person and what they think or do is really none of our business. It is liberating to realize and accept this.

A trip with my husband’s family really hammered this concept home for me. To celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday a group of us went to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. As is usually the case with planning for a group there was a lot of back and forth on dates and accommodations. Trying to get 11 people to agree on anything is a feat but we did it. My husband and I suggested an all inclusive resort to make everything easy. Then I stepped out of the picture and let he and his siblings sort it out.

The resort was gorgeous and we all had a really good time. The one downside and the biggest complaint from everyone was the monotony of the mediocre food. I’ve done all inclusive before so I didn’t have high expectations, but I didn’t disagree with the complaints. We were limited on which of the various restaurants we could go to because we were such a large party and ended up in the same places, with the same food and it did get a little old. But here was the interesting piece, I kept wishing everyone would just stop complaining. I was so sick of hearing about the food. But, I wasn’t having a normal reaction to the griping. It was almost like I was taking the grumbling personally… took me a few days to really tap into what was going on.

As I listened to them I realized I did feel like it was personal. Now let me be very clear here, this was all my perception, no one in my family did anything wrong or said anything that reflected this. It was my overblown sense of responsibility going Stay Puft monster on me. My husband and I had suggested all! I started feeling like everyone was miserable and it was my fault. (I wish I could insert the cartoon sounds of brakes screeching here!) I did a double take, shook my head and had a “come again” moment with myself. Somehow because we’d suggested that an all inclusive resort might be easy (which by the way it was) that I was responsible for the mediocre food and that people weren’t happy. My rational side jumped in...I didn’t even pick the place AND even if I had, their experience was still not my responsibility.

This is not new. If I suggest a movie and it stinks, if I choose a route and there’s traffic, if I want to go to a concert and the band is having an off guessed it, it’s my fault. My overblown sense of responsibility got a swift kick in her Stay Puft arse that trip. I had been watching for when it was coming up and that trip was the perfect opportunity for me to see it in real time.

I’m not perfect (duh) and never will be but this particular aspect of myself has had a major overhaul. I’m much more aware of it and able to reign it in faster these days.

Do you see yourself in this? Have you experienced this over the top sense of responsibility? What (if anything) have you done to slow it down or stop it? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear.

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