Having recently completed another Meeting the Shadow series, I reconnected with the importance of one of the core concepts – responsibility. Responsibility is taking ownership for what we have created in our lives, both the good and the not “as good”. Yet, many people may not realize there are boundaries in taking responsibility, just like with anything else. The boundary lies between taking ownership for too much, versus deflecting and blaming everyone else.

People who take on too much responsibility, also take on ownership for situations that do not belong to them. Think about where you would place the boundaries of responsibility when someone lashes out at you in anger based on something that you said or did:

  • Is your reaction to the person’s angry outburst your responsibility or theirs? It is YOURS.
  • Is the behavior of lashing out your responsibility or theirs? It is THEIRS.
  • Where does responsibility lie for using feedback from the situation for growth and change? WITH BOTH OF YOU.

If you took responsibility for all three parts, your responsibility boundaries need a review to create a more balanced personal perspective.

While some people take on too much responsibility, others do everything they can to say “not me”. Take the same example of someone lashing out in anger.

  • Maybe you react by saying to a 3rd party, “look at how that other person lashed out at me”. If you do, you are playing the victim and not taking ownership for your part in the situation.
  • Perhaps you find ways to blame others for the person’s outburst. It wasn’t my fault, see what that other person did, I couldn’t possibly be responsible for that..” In that case, you are deflecting responsibility.

These are some common ways that people deflect. They always seem to find a way to avoid any responsibility sticking to them; like Teflon.

Consider whether you have a tendency to:

  • Say it is all my fault
  • Be the first to apologize
  • Beat yourself up


  • Can never do anything wrong
  • React strongly when someone blames you
  • Blame everyone else

Taking responsibility requires a balance of being able to own your part in a situation without deflecting, blaming, or overreacting. You can’t own everything, nor can you own nothing. If you are lacking a balanced sense of responsibility, please sign up for the Meeting the Shadow wait list or contact me to discuss options for transformational coaching.

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