It feels irresponsible not being responsible for everyone

I once read a fascinating medical book about dangers of painkillers. 

Pinsky, the author and board certified addiction medicine specialist, introduces the book by reflecting on his first opportunity as a young doctor to administer an opiate to a patient. 

I cannot express my satisfaction at having been able to help this man so vividly and quickly. This is what those of us who enter helping professions expect and hope from our careers. Rarely do we get to experience this sense of triumph so thoroughly as with our ability to take away pain. 

You don’t have be a doctor to relate to this moment. Any of us with the desire to help others, be of service to the world and improve people’s lives can understand that experience. 

But the irony is, the satisfaction of being the helpful hero who saves others from their problems and is valued for their ability to fix people, that’s one hell of an opiate too. Which means it’s highly addictive too. And if we’re not careful, it can provoke deep anxiety. 

It’s like my boss once told me during a performance review:

You need to let these things be other people’s problems. 

Meaning, you are not responsible for keeping the whole company on track. 

Meaning, extricate yourself and delegate those tasks to others. 

Meaning, free yourself from the stress of having to be a godlike being who has all the answers. 

Meaning, sidestep the swollen egotism that arises from viewing yourself as the chief executive rescuer. 

You need to let these things be other people’s problems. And once you get rid of all that stuff, you can be lighter for the journey in front of you. 

Remember, in a world that puts extremely high value on improvement, progress and results, it’s hard for us to admit that many things in life are okay just as they are. 

That they don’t need our help. And that it’s not irresponsible not being responsible for everyone.


Are you accepting of the almost endless list of conditions that are not humanly possible to change?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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