If we overcooperate with other people, they will rarely complain about it. We rarely hear others say, "You're just too easygoing!" However, we will soon discover that when the pendulum of our psyche swings too much into overcooperation, eventually it swings back the other way, into undercooperation. This shift may take a few days, weeks, months, or even years, but sooner or later, it happens.
In the case of undercooperation, we either go into complete while withdrawing emotionally. Unless corrected, this can lead to the death of a relationship.
Happily, relationships suffering from traumatic or chronic cooperation issues can be saved or, in some cases, resurrected. The "miracle" involves finding a new balance between giving and receiving-establishing a mutually supportive relationship. Open communication can lead to a more equal sharing of responsibility, lifting the psychological burden from the shoulders of those with codependent tendencies. The major responsibility for establishing a new balance, however, rests with those who have such tendencies.
Responsibility in itself seems a desirable attribute, but those of us who feel overly responsible-who feel compelled to overhelp-need to shift our attitude and actions and find our balance point in order to achieve a state of true cooperation and balanced responsibility.
The most powerful form of cooperation and support may sometimes mean encouraging and empowering other people to do things for themselves. The best assistance often includes making the right demands.
The Law of Responsibility serves as an essential reminder of the value and ultimate necessity of finding, respecting, and working within our own comfort zone. While we're all here to stretch our comfort zone, we're not here to ignore it. This law reminds us to respect our intemal values and to find our own point of balance.
Let's take the example of Rosalyn and Tanya, each mother of two young children. Both Rosalyn and Tanya were formerly advertising executives who commuted daily to work in San Francisco. Rosalyn decided to stay home with her children, putting her downtown career on hold; Tanya, on the other hand, continued working downtown and found a good nanny to take care of her children while she was at work. Rosalyn and Tanya made different choices. The issue here is that neither woman chose what she most deeply wanted to do; instead, each chose what she felt she was "supposed to do"
Rosalyn felt frustrated at home, but she believed that she had to remain with her children all day to be a "good mother" Tanya hated leaving her children every day, but she wanted to be a "modem woman" with "equal opportunities,' not "tied to the home" the way she felt her own mother had been.
Both women were, in a sense, overcooperating with someone else's values and ideas of what they "should" be or do rather than listening to their own needs. Happily, each has now found a balance that works
well for her. Tanya has found a way to work at home so that she can see her children more, and Rosalyn is back in the office, working part-time and loving it, and she better appreciates the time she has with her children because her other needs are being met.
In applying the Law of Responsibility, we support others, but we also accept support; we find a balance between the two. We find the difference between what we think we "should" do or be and what our heart really desires. We do what we can feel good about inside; if we don't feel good inside, we state our feelings and reach a compromise: "I'll do this much, but you'll have to do the rest" That's the heart of responsibility and the soul of cooperation.