What is being responsible?
Be careful how you use
the word "responsible"?
Responsible as a toxic word
The word "responsible" can be fuzzy, ill-defined, or even have contradictory meanings. Consequently, its use can be toxic. I usually avoid using this word unless I am very clear about my meaning and I know the listener will be hearing the same meaning that I intend. Let me give you an example illustrated with a recent conversation I had with a friend.
A fundamental responsibility can veto a superficial responsibility
When my friend said that she thought it would be irresponsible to break a promise that she made both to herself and to her colleague, I said to her, "Yes, we commonly think that breaking one's promise is irresponsible. But have you considered this? When you made that promise, did you consult with you-Now to ensure that she was likely to be on board when it was time to fulfill on the promise?" She admitted that she did not.
I also asked her, "In making that promise, did you consult with you-Oneself to ensure that, in the process of keeping that promise you would be taking care of yourself and not sacrificing yourself for anyone else?" She confessed she did not.
I told her, "I know you may feel between a rock and a hard place right now, but if you don't know how to ensure that you-Now and you-Oneself (not just you-Next and you-Others) are both happy in fulfilling the promise you made, then revoking your promise could be the responsible thing to do in this circumstance. Does this make sense?" She admitted that it did.
Keeping your fundamental responsibility in place from the get-go
Of course, the easiest way to keep your "responsibility" and integrity in place is to create the consistent habit of consulting with you-Now and you-Others whenever making promises or plans, or setting up goals and projects.