Do You Ever Feel Trapped By Your Responsibilities?

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"And I realized how often the prison I feel is self-imposed. How often I say yes to things and then regret them. Or obsess over how someone perceived my communication. Or have a daily ritual like writing this blog but somehow feel like I can never play hooky. Or worry so much about what people think of me."

For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:


‘Responsibility’ has always been a triggering word for me.

As a visionary—as a person who’s felt “too much” or “not enough” for most of my life—I felt responsible for everything around me. It’s how I kept myself safe.

I’d feel responsible for other people’s reactions to me. I’d feel responsible for any time something went wrong in a relationship. I’d feel responsible for caring for everyone else before myself.

And I’d shame myself whenever any of it didn’t work out. When someone thought I was “too much,” I’d tone it down. When someone didn’t resonate with me, I’d internalize it.

And, certainly, whenever I couldn’t push myself to work more or felt tired, I’d shame myself and then push harder.

For me, ‘responsibility’ felt like exhaustion. So much so that I started to dread checking e-mail or Facebook.  Or ever answering my phone.

And the uncanny thing was I always found myself back in the same pattern. Even when I left my job and started working for myself, I still felt like I was responsible to everyone—clients, blog readers, Garrett, family.

I felt deep shame any time I wanted to stop to watch TV or go for a walk. Wasn’t there more to do? Wasn’t I responsible to more?

Ironically, in all of that obsession with responsibility, I never once felt responsible to myself or my own emotions.

Because, for me, ‘responsibility’ had a lot to do with self-worth. It wasn’t about things I was choosing for myself. It wasn’t about living from my genius. It was about obligations. What I thought I had to do to be worthy, loved, or powerful.

And, from that place, I was never actually living from my genius. I was never tapping into it at all. Because I wasn’t generous (which is, quite literally, sharing genius).

I wasn’t really giving of myself. I was feeling trapped. Giving only in exchange for someone to tell me I’m worthy.

Genius can’t come when we feel forced. It has to be allowed. It has to be the highest expression of ourselves. It has to be free.

If ‘responsibility’ felt like a triggering word, then ‘free’ felt infinitely more so. What the hell does free mean when we have bills to pay and promises to keep and obligations to fulfill?

I was so busy with all of my tasks and worries, that I rarely ever chose something for myself. Just what I really, really wanted in the moment.

It was like I was a prisoner of my life, not a creator. Things were planned out and so busy that I barely had a moment to pause and look at the bigger picture. Or check to feel if my genius was being shared.

This week in the Unique Genius Experiment, I’m exploring my Free genius. And it’s been pushing all of my buttons.

On Monday and Tuesday, I played hooky and didn’t write at all. Subconsciously, I must have been planning for this because somehow I have a two-week gap of almost nothing on my calendar—which just doesn’t happen for me. And I even blew off an event last night that I had planned.

And, in the space of freedom, I decided to offer up one-on-one sessions for the first time in over three years. I had the time. And, maybe for the first time in a long time, it didn’t feel like an obligation. It felt like an empowered choice. Like the freest thing I could do is play around with clients and get to know new people.

So I opened my private calendar to the public.

And I realized how often the prison I feel is self-imposed. How often I say yes to things and then regret them. Or obsess over how someone perceived my communication. Or have a daily ritual like writing this blog but somehow feel like I can never play hooky. Or worry so much about what people think of me.

That’s not freedom. That’s living a life of obligation for other people. And we visionaries are masters at that. Because we’ve always felt wrong, so naturally we take responsibility when things go wrong in our life.

But the great irony is that we visionaries have a genius—are brimming with genius. And yet we kept ourselves so obligated that we never get to access it.

We never get to skip work and drive to the beach for the day, only to come home filled with clarity. Or we never reach out to people we’ve always wanted to work with and declare our desire without worrying they’ll think we’re sleazy or manipulative.

We never let go of holding responsibility for everyone else. But not for ourselves.

Because we are responsible. I’d say visionaries are just about the most responsible people out there. We are constantly responding to the environment around us and trying to save it all. And we so often get lost in the shuffle.

Genius doesn’t come when we’re scrambling and constantly busy. It can’t. It comes when we feel free. When doing something is a choice—a choice from the deepest part of our soul. Our genius.

If we never offer ourselves that freedom—to speak without needing to control how  another perceives us, or say yes to only things that light us up, or just do what we feel like in the moment—if we don’t do that, then we’ll never have access to our full genius.

But if we knew that, in any moment, the greatest gift we can give the world is to access our genius, then we’d live life entirely differently. Because the most responsible thing we can ever do is access our genius. And generously share it with the world.

We do have a responsibility. To the world, to other people, and, most importantly, to ourselves. But it’s not one borne out of obligation. It’s borne out of genius. The place where our highest desire matches up with the needs of the world. That’s why it’s our genius in the first place.

There’s nothing more generative than a person doing something because it’s the only thing in the world that they want to do. It creates so much more life than was there before. And shares so much genius with the rest of us.

And that can only ever come from freedom. From freely choosing our own lives. And knowing that choosing genius is always the responsible choice.


Questions for Reflection:

*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:

Do you ever feel trapped by your responsibilities?

— Do you ever feel overwhelmed or busy with your responsibilities? Do you ever feel irresponsible for blowing something off, playing hooky, or saying no to a request? Do you ever guilt or shame yourself when you take time to relax?

— Think about the things you do in a typical day—how many of them do you do because it’s the thing you want to do most, and how many feel like obligations? Do you feel like you “have to” do everything and your mind immediately rationalizes why you can’t get out of it, even upon just reading this?

— What if the most responsible thing you can ever do is access your genius and share it with the world? What if genius can only ever come when you feel free and empowered to make choices? What if living a life led by what you authentically feel in any given moment is actually how you’ll make the greatest impact on the world?

Mike Iamele

Mike Iamele

Mike writes about how artists, entrepreneurs, healers, and visionaries of all kinds can actually build a life around the genius inside of them.

He's CEO of Mike Iamele LLC and Creator of Sacred Branding® and the Sacred Circle.

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