Understanding Responsibility

Written by
Michael Wells

Understanding Responsibility

Written by
Michael Wells

Understanding Responsibility

Written by
Michael Wells
Why do I feel "creepy" about expressing attraction to someone? Won't that turn them off, piss them off or make them think I'm some kind of pervert?

Originally written as an answer to this question on Quora...

"My dad is abusive and his whole family hates me for running away. It's been two years since I left, but I still feel so much pain when I think about it. How can I get over this?"

Responsibility is a funny thing.

You’ve learned to take full responsibility for yourself, protect yourself, make tough decisions, even walk away from your immediate family. At some point in your life you realized that no one else was going to look after you, and that it was up to you to take full responsibility for yourself.

Nice choice :) you’re halfway there.

Taking responsibility for yourself gives you power and freedom, but taking responsibility for others can do the opposite.

It can be crippling.

Right now, you are concerned about your family’s feelings. You feel attached to the idea that they should understand why you needed to protect yourself. That they should appreciate your reasons for leaving. That they should be thankful that you have managed to create a life where you are safe and happy.

But they don’t. Or at least, none of them can express it openly, because the others would turn against them.

Honestly, that’s totally OK … because only you get to choose who & what you take responsibility for.

Let other people have whatever emotions they want. You get to have whatever emotions you want.

They key thing to realize is that you are not responsible for them, or their emotions.

This is a choice you make.

How do I Choose what to be responsible for?

In general the pattern below works best for most people…

Things to be responsible for…

  • Yourself, including your health, safety, and emotions
  • Your young children
  • Your pets
  • Your partner, e.g. when they are sick
  • In some cultures, children accept responsibility for their parents once they have retired. ( e.g. if you are Chinese, this is a bit harder for you because you have to confront your cultural programming on top of everything else )

Things NOT to be responsible for…

  • Other people, including your parents, cousins, aunties, uncles …
  • ANYONE else’s emotions, including your child’s, pet’s, or partner’s

Good luck! Learning what to take responsibility for, and what NOT to take responsibility for, is among the most enabling & freeing perspectives you can develop in life.

How's your pain level?

Contact me for a free trial coaching session, if you want some change in your life.

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Unanswered Questions

Do other mammals also experience lineality, and the doorway effect? Or is this a human mind function?

Is it possible that the doorway effect, and the lineal nature of the mind, is stronger in males, than females?


Of course, manufactured food has changed that equation drastically, since its easy to hack the minds evaluation of good and bad.

Identify the highest value resources

Avoid spending time on the lowest value resources


Figuring out who we are in the context of the world around us

Like looking at a map.  

Friend v. foe

Danger v. not danger

Like me v. not like me?

And we do the same thing with places this is my property. That's your property.

Identity and Lineality

These reporters, we do that with things even though we're all human. We define racial boundaries and identities, we defined national boundaries and identities, we defined religious boundaries and identities. Because the question of who our people overall what makes them different, and how do we manage that? Who am I? Where am I, within that group? are two key questions that our brain constantly seeks to understand? Now, I'm not here to discuss whether or not that's actually a useful thing to do. Certainly, we're very preoccupied with it racism wouldn't exist without it. Norway nationalism or borders? Probably most laws would evaporate along the way. And yet the human mind finds these things absolutely essential and central to our experience of being human.


Are autistic people as lineal as non-autistic? Is Autism a natural evolution in which the mind is attempting to break down those lineal walls and expand the amount of information that we have access to at any given time?

The reason I suspect this is that the autistic savant- those few people who are "successfully" autistic, and have the ability to process ridiculous amounts of information in ways that our non-autistic minds cannot.

Synasthaesia is a great example of this- the ability for example see mathematics as colors and shapes, which most of us would separate as entirely different experiences.

single single tasking only focus on one thing at a time, planet stresses out quite easily if you try to overload it, which explains things like test anxiety you end up with a mental square peg round hole problem quite often when your brain tries to understand and manage emotions, which are not rational thought constructs in a direct way.

So, perhaps the the reason that we are so obsessed with linear reality with linear realizing our world is that it makes it possible for our system to mind to function as efficiently as possible on a very scarce resource, which is attention.

In fact, this idea of memories attached to space is so powerful, it's the basis for an entire technique known as the memory palace.

In this technique, you imagine a large house, every room is different, and each room has things in it to that you can visually remember.  A painting on the wall.  A table with 3 books on it.

All of this, purely imagined, and you walk through it in your head.

So the concept of lineality is not a physical thing- it's entirely mental, and 100%

Not just figuring out how to stay alive, but how to stay alive with style - lineality and judgement also help us Identify the highest value resources.

Does a cake taste better? or a brussel sprout?

Most people would go for the sugar- because your brain knows that sugar has more calories, and is therefore "better" for survival.

It takes rational awareness and understanding to overcome this mammal-brain reflex.

Quantum Reality and the Doorway Effect

You can totally ignore this. It is probably meaningless. I kind of rather hope it is totally meaningless.

But the little I know about the Observer principle in Quantum Physics suggests that reality only exists when you are aware of it.

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The quantum reality perspective on this is NO, it does not. In fact, the tree does not even exist as atoms until someone is there to observe it.

But consciousness, attention, awareness, observation- these are quite vague concepts that carry deep significance both in religions like Buddhism, and in quantum physics.

What does it mean to be aware of something?

If I enter a room, and close the door, and no one is outside that door, does the rest of the universe disappear, since I can no longer perceive it?

A fascinating rabbit hole of philosophy and science, to be sure.

The reason I bring this up is that it raises an unique corollary question in this article. Is it possible that when we're "in a room" in our head, that in essence the reason those other rooms unload is that they literally blink out of existence in some way.

I'm not proposing this as likely, just as... a fascinating thought.