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Yesterday we discussed how confirmation bias can maintain your responsibility syndrome. Today we will have a look at how the fear of losing control influences your tendency to take on responsibility.


A person who takes on too much responsibility at work, at home and in social situations is probably afraid, consciously or unconsciously, that something negative will happen if he or she starts letting things go. 


Example

 

Jack, who always takes the lead in team efforts or projects at work, is afraid that the company will lose valuable customers if he isn’t there to check on other people’s work and hurry them along. 


Ann, who always makes it her duty to come up with fun conversation topics at work, is afraid to be excluded or less liked if the conversation stalls at some point. 


Amina, who helps her coworkers out with all kinds of things on a daily basis, is afraid to be perceived as selfish and cold if she isn’t there for them at all times. 


Evan is afraid that his family would never get together if he didn’t arrange grand sunday dinners and made sure to invite everyone. 


Amy thinks that her circle of friends will dissolve and that she will be all alone if she stops arranging activities


Core beliefs that “demand” perfection and achievements combined with the very human tendency for avoidance (i.e. trying to steer clear of things that risk triggering unpleasant experiences) can lead to a life where you are governed by fear and negative assumptions about yourself and the world, rather than what you would actually like to do. Such avoidance is an example of negative reinforcement – you momentarily escape discomfort, which in turn makes you keep avoiding things.


In tomorrow’s lesson we will get to the so-called “Miracle Question” to start looking at possible goals for you. 


Exercise


Now you will get to try what psychologists call a behavioral experiment. Try, for a couple of days, to let go of responsibility in one of the areas you wrote down yesterday. For example: “I won’t hurry my coworker along today”. 


It might be a good idea to start off with something that doesn’t feel too difficult (perhaps a discomfort level of about 5). 


Next, evaluate the consequences. Did someone else take over instead? Did anyone notice you were doing something different? Did anyone suffer from your experiment?