Co-dependency, a label that has been used to sum up many behaviors and traits, and one I  have had personal experience with, is one spot on a long continuum that suggests to us to examine our often

well-intended behavior which may include over-giving, stepping on another’s space to choose and be responsible for their own behavior, and forcing us to put the focus back on ourselves (ugh.) 

There have been situations where, and truth be told, sometimes long after the fact, I needed to examine and understand what is stimulating my response, to better understand how I got caught in the ‘to versus for’ web.  

I can proudly say I am pretty good at going through this process rapidly and avoiding many pitfalls, though I inevitably provide for myself continued learning opportunities when it comes to:

boundaries, obstacles, caring and communication – the elements behind the power clause ‘to versus for.’

I’m moved to share some thoughts on these powerful words, in other posts I’ll share some of my favorite techniques new and old, to work through the ‘to versus for’ process.  

Most tricky is the process for parents, who have to grapple between overdoing or overindulging, versus acknowledging your child’s needs and meeting them.  This is the ultimate ‘to versus for’ decision tree, and it includes the age of the child, safety issues, and more then I can touch upon in this blog post.  Suffice  it to say, that incorporating into your decision tree the value of your child knowing that ‘failure’ means they got into the game and tried, that we all learn from difficult decisions, and self-examination of one’s own set of boundaries with no abuse issues (or not) are all key power criteria  in determining your responsibility to your child versus for your child.  (Extreme or life consequential situations aside.)  

‘To versus for’ was encapsulated by an ex-employee of Amazon (I do not know anyone who works at Amazon, just using the national news story) who spoke of a culture of harassment and the various opinions that ensued from various employees including those of Amazon.  What is the companies responsibility to it’s employee’s versus for.   Retorts included support for the employee who voiced their feelings about their experience, and many retorts from past or present Amazon employees saying this was not their experience at all, to many others saying ‘deal with it.’  I was a bit surprised in the number of responses who said “deal with it,” are you?

I even thought about ‘to versus for’ when watching the Gandhi movie the other night, as he navigated being responsible ‘to’ his country and the plight of the people, and how he thought about and acted upon being responsible ‘for’ their actions.

It’s often clearer to see how a close confidant gets entangled in the ‘to versus for’ dilemma in personal relationships (haven’t most of us been there at least once) – being so consumed by and responsible ‘for’ the other person, instead of placing the emphasis on being responsible ‘to’ the other person, keeping the focus on our actions (communication) while not taking on what is the others responsibility.

Here is an example, say a good friend is throwing a dinner party and your mate is upset, again, because they have over scheduled themselves (a conversation you have repeatedly) and they cannot make the dinner and they feel sick from ‘running around so much’ – this time you decide to both listen with quality to your spouse and let them know you are going to the dinner, a ‘to versus for’ decision.  

Or as an employer, being cognizant of the culture of the company (which of course is open to interpretation and perception) though I believe most employee’s can pretty much describe the culture of a company as to what type of behavior is acceptable or not,  while recognizing that there will be employees whose work style or contribution is not what is needed.  Taking a mindful approach, examining the  ‘to versus for’ in this scenario, can make a difficult process at least respectful.  I have seen hardship, potential lawsuits for the company and added stress for the employee diverted by using a more mindful approach.

In my career, being conscious of  ‘to versus for’ helps me provide my best to my client, with thoughtful respect.  I greatly want to see each client succeed (obtain their goals, feel better and get their desires) while allowing, and not just allowing, but holding the space and honoring that each individual choose and deserves the space to manage their own transformation.  Honoring the idea of ‘being responsible to’ the other but not ‘for the other,’ being responsible how ‘I come to or facilitate’ but not ‘responsible for’ the individuals success.

It’s often complicated, and full of gray lines (which makes it interesting) and why I love my work.

Here is a short podcast from my new iTunes page, (absolutely enjoying but still getting use to creating podcasts.)  Of course, all of this is food for thought and I welcome your ideas.