Dependability and Responsibility

“ Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical” -Zig Ziglar 


 What is the difference between Depend-ability and Response-ability?

Dependability is defined as the quality of being able to be counted on or relied upon. As with many other life skills we initially learn in childhood, the quality of dependability was role-modeled by our caregivers. As children, we were highly dependent upon those caregivers for survival and the supply of our basic needs. We quickly learned about trust, reliability, and dependability, setting the stage for our future behaviors.

Regardless if we originally obtained quality life skills, such as dependability and responsibility, disturbing life events can change how we respond to situations and how we manage our responsibilities. Trauma-inducing situations that involve the loss of control, feelings of betrayal, abuse of power from authority figures, emotional or physical pain, confusion and/ loss of the familiar, whether people, places, or things, can and often do elicit post-trauma symptoms. 

Trauma, at any stage of life,  is a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms your ability to cope. It creates self-doubt, causes feelings of helplessness, and diminishes your sense of self.  It often diminishes your ability to feel a full range of emotions and reduces the capacity to trust new experiences and be self-reliant.

Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms are subjective and vary quite dramatically from person to person. These life events alter our experiences. They do not need to be at the global level of war or natural disaster, or on the individual scale of personal assault to affect profound changes. There is no formula to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms since it is so subjective. It is important to bear in mind that the initial trauma creates a resulting post-trauma behavior as a coping mechanism, often called a coping skill. Trauma interferes with our ability to respond to situations in a more balanced manner.

 These coping skills and mechanisms can be revealed in many ways.

 Some examples are:

  •  Overachieving or over-committing
  •  Co-dependency or people-pleasing
  • Being domineering or autocratic
  • Being  undependable or unreliable
  • Developing addictive behaviors
  • Being consistently inconsistent

While depend-ability is the ability to be depended upon for a response or action, response-ability is the ability to respond in a particular manner. These are often confused and used interchangeably.  Note, responsibility and dependability do not mean that you must take on all the tasks and commitments of others.  Regardless of how it may be misinterpreted or seen as socially acceptable, these are still coping mechanisms. And although these trauma responses are coping mechanisms, now redefined or relabeled as coping skills, they can create dysfunctional results. It does not mean it is a balanced response.  It is a learned or assumed behavior to cope with the initial trauma.

 Three steps toward change:

  • Awareness-There can not be a change without initial awareness. 
  • Acceptance-Acknowledging the requirement of change to create greater awareness
  • Action-For personal growth to happen action steps must be applied

Why is it important for us to be aware of our actions? 

Zig Ziglar noted that ability is just a portion of being successful.  Through observation and a willingness to create greater, change must happen. You must be willing to leap beyond all of your past limiting beliefs and behaviors to create greater. Unless there is an awareness of where patterns of coping mechanisms are being used then behaviors will stay the same.

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too”-Paulo Coehlo