Is Being “Responsible” Costing You Your Business? On Responsibility Vs Codependency

A while back, I wrote about how “Being Responsible” may be crimping our creativity. My bone with “responsibility” doesn’t end there. It has become apparent to me, as I work with clients who have more of a “nurturing” inclination, “responsibility” can be costing them financially in their businesses.

Let’s start with our conditioning, what we have been told as “good”, and how we try to get approval and acceptance by doing what others are considered to be “good.”

Even though we were conditioned to consider “being responsible” as a “virtue”, few were taught where to draw the line. What responsibilities do we pick up? Where do we draw the line? How to discern the “should’s” from what truly comes from our heart, that we really do want to take on?

We got slapped with the big words “responsibility” and were left to figure it out on our own at some tender young age. (How Irresponsible was that??!)

We were praised for taking on responsibilities, so in order to gain approval and acceptance (we all do, to a certain degree, that’s human nature) we sometimes say “yes” to things that are not ours to take on.

What have you taken on that are NOT yours to bear? Look at the baggage you are dragging around… are you carrying other people’s crap mistaking it as your own?

“Responsibility” and Codependency

Being “responsible” out of “being good” or “being approved/loved/accepted” may set off the booby trap of codependency that will cause you not just your sanity but also potentially your business.

People with a predisposition to be a codependent enabler often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs. Codependency often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. (Wikipedia)

Codependency can show up as:

  • Undercharging – you feel responsible for giving everyone access to your service and you have the belief that you can “help more people” by charging less. (You are trying to give everyone your stuff whether they want it or not – and this, is a violation of the other person’s boundary.)
  • Over-delivering (e.g. going overtime or providing “out of scope” deliverables without being compensated, writing pages after pages of support emails, “throwing in” extras) – you feel responsible for your clients’ results even though they need to do the work to succeed. Because you feel responsible, you would bend over backwards – compromising your own boundaries in order to “help” that person with the misconception that somehow, you can do the work for your client (Remote kale-eating, anyone?) (By the way, the client may or may not want to be helped, so in a way, you are violating that her personal choice.)
  • Constantly discounting – you buy into the client’s money stories and somehow made felt responsible that your fee will turn into the cause of her distress so you discount to make yourself feel better. (By the way, you have no rights to decided for the other person what she can or cannot afford… it’s her priority and her decisions to make.)
  • Giving away services for free – this is martyr mentality and can turn into victimhood that kicks you off the driver’s seat altogether.

We all know that just reading about “charging more” doesn’t get you very far. If so, we would all be doing it already. It’s one thing to learn about “how to charge more” but it’s another thing to actually DO IT. To state your fees confidently and stand by it.

What’s in the way? If we know the “how” intellectually, why do we still fall into the codependency trap?

Poor Boundary and Disempowered Voice Rooted In Fears

Simply put, if we don’t get good as saying “no”, we are going to take on everything others lay upon us. We hold ourselves back from speaking up because we are afraid of:

  • Rejection or disapproval
  • Losing love or not being liked
  • Being judged, criticized or exposing our vulnerability
  • Being worthless if we don’t constantly “prove” or validate our value
  • Ending up with nothing – money, relationships, respect etc.

Understanding why you are afraid of speaking up can help you cultivate the awareness to break the pattern.

Our Nurturing Nature

We are genetically programmed to be nurturing – particularly for women and anyone who are empathic and choose to work in the “helping profession.” There is nothing wrong with that and I don’t believe we have to “suit up” and “act all Type A” to succeed in business. However, this nurturing instinct may drag us into codependent relationships if we are not mindful of our boundaries.

Of course codependent relationships can take the form outside of money, but I am going to use financial codependency in this exercise because frankly, numbers don’t lie. You can also equate time with money, especially when it comes to your business and your relationships with your clients.

Answer these questions to help you acknowledge and embrace your nurturing nature, without compromising your boundaries:

  • If giving money were not an option for you, what other ways could you help the people who are important to you?
  • What are 3 relationships that (often) require your financial support and what would these relationships look like if you were not involved financially? (Watch out for your fears and the assumptions you make.)
  • What would your life be like in 3 years, 5, years and 10 years if the support you provided others was not financial?

Ling Wong, Mindset Provocateur at, helps the Maverick Entrepreneur to build a business that is a full expression of their creativity and individuality.

Ling helps her clients supercharge their actions not only through practical strategies and marketing tools, but also through their growth and development – so they not only grow their business, but also LET THEIR BIZ GROW THEM. Through her “left brain meets right brain” approach, she helps her clients uncover their truth and tap into their intuition, then ground those light bulb moments with practical strategies and marketing tactics.

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