The subject of yesterday’s post was advice. I was aghast that some people would actually consider not listening to me, in my well-considered analyses of their problems. Today I want to discuss the idea of responsibility.
If my advice was actually correct, my advisee did not follow it and dire consequences occurred, how should I act? An “I told you so,” is not a productive response, although those words would probably be bouncing around in my head begging to come out. If the person who refused my advise is just an friend or acquaintance, a simple shrug of the shoulders might be appropriate response on my part, with a sincere, “So sorry things didn’t work out,” thrown in for good measure.
But what if the advisee is a loved one, whose welfare cannot be shrugged off? What if the consequences of not listening to good advise results in more responsibility thrust upon the spurned advice giver? The saying, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part,” might work for the purchasing department, but it does not quite translate to family, in my opinion.
What is one supposed to do?
I can imagine the complex feelings associated with this situation: insult, at not having one’s advice accepted; anger at the negative consequences to the loved one; anger at the consequences of added responsibilities.
What happens if one refuses to accept the added responsibilities? Perhaps it is not possible to provide the resources to assist the loved one after their mistaken course of action. Perhaps it has to be ‘Shady Pines’, the nursing home with which Maude, from The Golden Girls continually threatens her aged mother, should she not listen.
This is probably an issue that families and loved ones deal with on a routine basis. I can think of several possible responses to the situation I outlined above: 1) “I could help you but I won’t.” In other words, you must live with the consequences of your actions or inactions; 2) “It’s ok, I’ll take care of you,” Don’t worry, I’ll assume responsibility for your actions; 3) “I’ll help you get someone else to take care of you and your problem.” Transfer of responsibility; 4) “As much as it hurts me, I am not able to help you.”
No matter what course of action one takes, and there are probably more than I outlined above, there is the pain of seeing a loved one in trouble. Of course there are ways to distract one’s self such as compartmentalizing, burying one’s feelings, but I understand these are not a good options. There are no really good options.
The idea of free will is the topic of much philosophical discussion and an underlying theme of this post. I hope to address it in a forthcoming post.