Why Do I Feel Overly Responsible to Others?

Why Do I Feel Overly Responsible to Others? why do i feel overly responsible to others?
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Sometimes, we can feel excessively responsible for others, leading us to neglect ourselves. This emotional tendency involves feeling an overwhelming sense of duty or obligation towards others. This feeling of being overly responsible can result in carrying the emotional burdens of those around us, taking on tasks and responsibilities that aren’t ours, neglecting our own needs to help others, struggling to set boundaries, and tying our self-worth to our ability to assist people.


It’s like being an emotional beast of burden, shouldering the heavy emotional loads and responsibilities of others as if they were our own. This emotional burden can be comparable to a beast carrying physical weight, often leading to neglecting our own well-being in the process.

In our relationships with others, like our kids, parents, friends, or even an abusive partner, it’s common to feel a strong sense of responsibility towards them. This leads us to ask why we sometimes feel overly responsible for their well-being, to the extent that we forget about our own needs and emotions

1. Fear of rejection or disapproval

Feeling overly responsible for others is often rooted in a deep-seated fear of disappointing or being rejected by the people we care about. We may believe that if we don’t constantly meet their expectations or fulfill their needs, we will lose their approval or affection. This fear can create a relentless drive to please and cater to others, even at the expense of our own well-being and personal boundaries.

Consequently, we may find ourselves taking on excessive responsibilities, striving to be indispensable, and neglecting our own needs to avoid the perceived consequences of not living up to others’ expectations.

To illustrate further, imagine a person, let’s call them Alex, who was in a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. Throughout the relationship, Alex endured constant criticism and manipulation from their ex-partner, who always demanded that Alex meet their needs and expectations. Due to the emotional abuse, Alex developed a deep fear of disappointing their ex-partner or being rejected if they didn’t comply with their demands. Even after the relationship ended, Alex continued to feel responsible for their ex-partner’s emotions and well-being. Whenever their ex-partner reached out with emotional pleas or demands, Alex felt an overwhelming sense of obligation to respond and try to help. This fear of disappointing their ex-partner and the lingering emotional attachment compelled Alex to remain entangled in the toxic dynamics of the past.

2. Low Self-Worth

Some people believe deep inside themselves that their worth as a person depends on how much they do for others. This belief leads them to take on a lot of responsibilities to prove their value. They think that the more they sacrifice and help others, the more important they are. However, this can be risky because they might end up neglecting their own needs and feeling emotionally drained.

Let’s explore this further, imagine a person named Sarah who feels that her self-worth is tied to how much she does for others. She constantly takes on additional responsibilities at work, volunteers for every social event, and puts her friends’ needs before her own. Sarah believes that if she’s not always helping and sacrificing for others, she won’t be valued or liked. She often neglects her own well-being and finds it challenging to say no to others’ requests, leading to feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm. In her mind, the more she gives, the more worthwhile she feels, but this pattern can be detrimental as she forgets to prioritize her own happiness and needs. Sounds familiar?

3. Avoidance of personal issues

Being a martyr or constantly sacrificing oneself for others can also be a sign of avoidance or hiding from one’s own unresolved issues. At first glance, it may feel fulfilling to see others happy and less disappointed, giving the illusion of being a genuinely caring person. However, deep down, there’s a realization that this self-sacrifice is not authentic, and it leaves aching emotions. The tendency to be overly responsible can serve as both an unconscious and conscious defense mechanism, providing a distraction from addressing one’s own unresolved wounds. The paradox lies in the belief that this behavior is a noble service to loved ones, when, in reality, it prevents us from properly caring for the most important person — ourselves.

Moreover, feeling overly responsible can also be emotionally addictive for you, as it provides a momentary sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when you meet the needs of others. This brief high of validation and being needed might reinforce the behavior, leading to a cycle of constantly seeking approval through excessive responsibility. However, it’s important to recognize that this addictive pattern can be harmful in the long run, as it may neglect your own self-care and prevent you from addressing your own emotional needs and well-being.

4. Societal & Cultural Influences

In certain cultures or societies, you may experience a strong emphasis on self-sacrifice and always putting others’ needs before your own. This can lead to feeling overly responsible for others. From a young age, you might be taught that caring for others is a sign of virtue, and this can make you feel like it’s your duty to take care of everyone around you. As a result, you might end up neglecting your own needs and feelings while carrying the emotional burden of others.


In conclusion, recognizing and challenging our negative behaviors, such as feeling overly responsible for others, is crucial for our personal growth and emotional well-being. It’s important to acknowledge that being overly responsible is often a learned behavior, influenced by various factors including personal experiences, family dynamics, and cultural norms. However, healing and positive transformation is done in the present moment and it comes through unlearning these patterns and cultivating healthier ways of relating to ourselves and others.

By understanding that being overly responsible is not a true reflection of our self-worth and value, we can begin the journey of self-discovery and self-compassion. This involves setting healthier boundaries, learning to say “no” when necessary, and prioritizing our own needs and well-being alongside caring for others. Challenging these ingrained behaviors allows us to break free from the cycle of self-neglect and emotional exhaustion, empowering us to cultivate more balanced and fulfilling relationships.

In our pursuit of healing, unlearning the belief that our worth is solely defined by how much we do for others opens the door to self-acceptance and a deeper connection with our authentic selves. Embracing the journey of self-healing and growth requires patience, self-compassion, and the willingness to let go of old habits that no longer serve us. As we gradually release the burden of excessive responsibility, we create space for personal empowerment, genuine connections, and a more fulfilling life journey. Remember, healing is a process, and each step we take towards unlearning these patterns brings us closer to a healthier and more balanced version of ourselves.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these subconscious patterns for good (in less than 2 months) using Mind Shifting, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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