It’s Your Responsibility

I think it’s interesting how people in the social media space often speak about similar topics at similar times.

Whether it’s because someone else brings it to light or a mention helps solidify another person’s opinion, I find that there’s a lot of overlap in what people postulate online.

I have a running list of post topics that I add to as I think of something. Sometimes there are concrete ideas, but other times it’s a huge run on sentence with parentheses and question marks because I haven’t quite narrowed down what it is I’m trying to say.  This post was one of those nebulous ideas, with “it’s your responsibility how you react to things (disclaimer on post and things)” as the only descriptor.

I read Alexis’s post on the fleeting fad that is the Unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks and that’s what solidified it for me. In a nutshell, she spoke against food shaming but also that it is each individual consumer’s responsibility to either drink or not drink it. It’s important for people to figure out for themselves how they want to fit it into their lives (or not) and leave it at that.

It was that plus a comment I received awhile ago after I apologized for a post that indirectly triggered someone that solidified what I wanted to say. The comment told me that I had no responsibility to apologize for how someone else read into a post.

So here it is. The world is a tricky place — online and real — but ultimately it is each person’s responsibility to take care of his or her own feelings and reactions.

It’s easy to point the finger and say that someone else’s actions or words made you feel a certain way. That’s fair to say as a statement of what you’re experiencing. What’s not fair is blaming them for your negative reaction.

In recovery, we are taught that once we stop using, we are responsible for our recovery. Everything that happened before has happened, there’s no changing it, and we can’t control that it happened. What we CAN control, however, is our recovery. Our behaviors. Our thoughts. Our decisions.

I’m reminded of several older posts I’ve written about playing the victim and my thoughts on the social media controversy, and I think that it’s important to remember that we are our own individual beings. No one else can make us feel anything we don’t want to feel.

As a recovering addict, I’m not going to put myself in situations where I know I can be triggered. I’m not going to hang out with friends in bars. I didn’t finish watching The Wire until last year because Baltimore was where I found drugs and I knew watching that show would take me somewhere I didn’t want to go.

As someone who has struggled with over exercising and disordered eating, I make it a point not to follow people who advocate for forcing yourself to exercise and who shun the idea of balance in the form of processed foods. It’s not realistic for me and I don’t need a broken record of what I’ve already put myself through. To each their own, but I know it doesn’t work for me.

If you know that you are easily triggered by discussions of dieting or images meant to idealize body shapes that aren’t yours, it’s your responsibility to stop reading or unfollow accounts.

If you inadvertently trigger a negative response, don’t blame that person. Use whatever tools you have to examine the situation. What are you feeling? What made you feel that way? What can you do differently the next time? Pointing the finger at someone else doesn’t help you improve as an individual.

Of course, as much as I’d like to make it black and white because that’s what I’m best at, there needs to be a little gray. If you’re writing about a subject that you know could potentially impact others in a negative way, consider adding a disclaimer at the beginning. Put a little bit of thought into the content you create, but remember that ultimately you can’t control other people and you will absolutely not please everyone in this world.

Be mindful of your words and remember to take a look at yourself before reacting against someone else. Figure out what’s important in your own life and let the rest go.

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

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16 Comments

  1. April 26, 2017 / 5:29 am

    Erin, I think you are spot on and it’s helpful to read this post. Sometimes when writing my blog I worry about what I’m saying – “is this going to offend someone?” “what is everyone disagrees?” Equally I’ve had to quit reading and responding to things that get me angry. I do love your blog and your posts. And you are inspirational in that you’ve overcome so much and so positive in your outlook

  2. April 26, 2017 / 5:30 am

    This is so, so important. The only person who is obligated to look after ourselves, is us (after we hit 18..). You take the blame for 100% of what you expose yourself too, whether it be a negative trigger or a positive catalyst! There are a couple blogs I can’t revisit because they creates bad habits in me, but luckily there are so many, like yours, that promote healthy choices that fit my life. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. April 26, 2017 / 5:38 am

    In life it is (just about) always YOUR CHOICE. If you want and like to drink that unicorn frap, you do you, child. If you don’t want to, shut up and don’t! I’ve been shamed for the most inane things in my life, and you know what? I wasn’t harming anyone (including myself) by doing them, and if I wasn’t doing harm, why did you need to get involved? it was my choice!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Mental Strength with Celebrity Trainers Chris Ryan and Wes Okerson (Coaches Corner)My Profile

  4. BJacsobson
    April 26, 2017 / 6:02 am

    well, reading your blog and shared experiences almost always helps me… thanks erin.

  5. Dee
    April 26, 2017 / 6:27 am

    Erin,

    This post was terrific. As someone who can relate to much of what you describe, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on building a new life in recovery. I have let go of so many of the toxic people in my life and now I find that I’m lacking relationships in general (other than my husband). I’m seeking ways to meet other women for friendships. Are there any types of groups you belong to or how did you navigate this piece of your life?
    Thank you for all that you share. I always look forward to your blogs.

    Dee

  6. Tammi Lewis
    April 26, 2017 / 7:04 am

    👍

  7. April 26, 2017 / 7:09 am

    This is a great post, Erin! It’s so easy to blame someone else for triggering us or making us feel a certain way or do something we don’t want to. In reality, it’s our own responsibility to stay away from what hurts us. We are responsible for our own recoveries. Great points!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Welcome to the World Baby ShowerMy Profile

  8. April 26, 2017 / 9:17 am

    This is such a good reminder; I’ve been learning this this year and have unfollowed people because I’m triggered by certain things. We can choose what we fill our minds with, and this is that kick (that I need) to be careful of what I fill my head with; because there is so much information out there.
    Emily recently posted…Eating Disorders Like Food Ruts (How To Get Out of Them)My Profile

  9. April 26, 2017 / 9:42 am

    Love this! I’ve been doing a whole clean sweep of my Instagram lately. Not that I get triggered but I don’t want to follow people who don’t have similar views as me around balanace and non restrictive diets.

  10. April 26, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Erin this was spot on! Sometimes I hesitate to write things or post certain pictures because I don’t want to offend anyone or trigger someone with an eating disorder. But, I was also taught in treatment that recovery is YOUR responsibility! Of course I want to inspire and not promote any disordered behaviors, but other than that I am free to post what I want because it is MY life and MY recovery. Thank you for this!
    Sarah recently posted…Health for Me Looks Different Than Health For YouMy Profile

  11. April 26, 2017 / 10:10 am

    Yes yes yes!! The blame-game is too easy, and it takes responsibility for us to own our behaviors and attitudes towards _____ (fill in the blank!)

  12. April 26, 2017 / 11:35 am

    We must be on the same wavelength because I also had a similar idea for a post!

    I feel like we’ve come to a place where we feel the need to apologize or add 90f5707 disclaimers to a post just in case someone reads it wrong. Nope. Sorry. I assume most people aren’t saying something with the intent of being an asshole and as such they deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to these things.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…WIAW – Surviving a Weekend of Barre Instructor TrainingMy Profile

  13. April 26, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    Agreed! I also think when we add disclaimers and call out how what we write is our opinion/experience and not prescriptive, we’re showing empathy that is sometimes hard to translate by written word. When talking or speaking in public about such topics, we covey it nonverbally for the most part.
    Bri recently posted…Why I’m still diligent about tracking exercise and nutritionMy Profile

  14. April 26, 2017 / 12:34 pm

    Amen sister! Seriously. I just talked about Easter shaming – saying “when did Easter turn into Christmas?” If you don’t want to do, eat or be something – DON’T. It’s really that simple. Thanks for laying it out there…:-)
    Allie recently posted…Injury Prevention for Runners – Run It WednesdayMy Profile

  15. April 27, 2017 / 8:56 am

    Great post. Kudos to you for being open and honest. Ultimately, there are infinite triggers and we have to be responsible for what we expose ourselves to. I think you have taken a very mature stance and I admire that. I shared this post.
    Runwright recently posted…Book Of The DayMy Profile

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