How to Handle Adults Who Take No Responsibility for Their Actions
We have all heard about the law of reaping what you sow. It is much like the law of cause and effect.
For instance, if you smoke, you most likely will suffer the harsh side effects such as cancer, heart disease or emphysema.
If you overeat, you will most likely gain weight. If you overspend, you will have no money left over to pay the bills or buy food.
The same is true on the positive side. If you eat healthy and exercise, you’ll get in shape. If you budget your money, you’ll have enough to pay rent and afford dinner.
We all know the consequences of our actions, but what happens when someone never learns to accept them?
Well, they never learn. They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, without ever figuring out how to avoid negative consequences in the first place.
How does this happen? The most common explanation is that someone else is interfering.
It’s a frequent occurrence that someone can interrupt the law of cause and effect on someone else’s life. An example of this could be a mother constantly stepping in and saving their adult son or daughter from a difficult situation, such as continually paying off their bills.
The mother is shielding their adult child from the harsh reality of reckless actions. The adult child is being encouraged to not learn their lesson and is very likely to do it all over again. In fact, there is no reason not to.
They aren’t reaping what they sow, and this situation can get too comfortable.
So many people get used to not dealing with life by putting negative consequences in someone else’s hands. It’s not fair to anyone involved.
We call someone who continually saves another person from their consequences, codependent. Most of the time codependent people don’t know how to stop, or are afraid to confront the irresponsible person.
However, just confronting the person is not enough.
Merely confronting someone will just feel like an annoying nag and won’t cause them to feel the real pain. Only consequences can do that.
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townshend, in their book Boundaries, say that an effective way to deal with irresponsible people is to set boundaries for yourself.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that will encourage you to set mature boundaries so that others can accept the consequences of their own actions:
Whose responsibility is this, really?
Am I really serving this person by suffering the consequences of their actions for them?
What will happen of this pattern continues on forever?
How will this person benefit if I refuse to suffer the consequences for his actions?
How am I sabotaging myself and other concerned parties by taking too much responsibility?
Stop taking on unnecessary responsibility for other adults and require them to deal with their own actions. Only then can they learn from their mistakes, and be motivated to avoid making them again.
Let them reap what they sow.
Bundrant, M. (2013). How to Handle Adults Who Take No Responsibility for Their Actions. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2013/09/how-to-handle-adults-who-take-no-responsibility-for-their-actions/