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How much do others need to take responsibility?

Community Member
Hi all,

Wondering if anyone has any advice/thoughts on this topic. I am really confused about how much other people need to take responsibility and be mindful about someone with anxiety. I find in a lot of relationships, pretty normal standard things can trigger my anxiety particularly in social settings and family settings. So how much do the people around you need to be sensitive and how much do you need to try and manage your reaction? For example I have a sibling who is extremely sarcastic. Everyone else in the family finds it funny but it sets off my anxiety, largely because it has been at my expense over a great many numbers of years. The family consensus is that I'm too sensitive and need to take a joke better but it hurts that I don't feel safe in my own family and that they don't seem to be sensitive to my feelings at all. And this seems to be quite regular - I'm very sensitive to criticism and feel like everyone hates me if they criticise anything. sometimes it's justified but i feel like my defence and offence cant take even constructive criticism. How much of that is on me to work on and how much is on others to work on? Anyone have any ideas?

5 Replies 5

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi PilbaraMumma,

Thank you for your post and your question.

I think this is one of those 'How long is a piece of string?' type questions. I would imagine that it would vary so much, especially depending on how intense the anxiety is and how close/open you are in relationships.

As an example, I have a partner who couldn't be more supportive and parents who couldn't be more unsupportive. Some of the people I know will probably never change in how they support me or treat me, and others are open to feedback and adapting to what I need (like some extra reassurance or support). So I kind of have to adapt a bit depending on who I'm with.

In any case though, it's totally up to me (or you) to manage 100% of that reaction. I think managing that might be a little different though. Being too sensitive is a little bit of a manipulative comment, so that's not something we can work on! But maybe feeling like everyone hates you is.

I hope that this makes sense! I think it's been a bit of a tricky question to think about and answer, but know you're not alone in this one.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi PilbaraMumma,

As someone who also suffers from anxiety, I think it depends on the situation. I find that some people’s personalities set off my anxiety as well (if I find them to be sarcastic or fairly intolerant type of people), but I also thinks its unreasonable to ask them to change their personality , which I’m not even sure is possible. So I tend to just limit my time with them. But I think that can be hard in sibling relationships, which can be tricky as there can be a lot of tormenting patterns in there. Do you get on with your sibling otherwise? What is your history with them like? I think an important thing is to also take things in the spirit that they are intended.

Community Member
Hi PilbaraMumma. Taking responsibility for ourselves means we have choices to accept or distance ourselves from people who intentionally (or unintentionally) hurt us with inappropriate or unacceptable comments. My sibling was extremely sarcastic, as a child I took his remarks on board. I have since learned we can't change how people react towards us, we can, however change how we chose to react. Meeting sarcasm with further sarcasm simply invites further caustic behaviour. Being overly sensitive can be difficult if your family is unsupportive. I was extremely overly sensitive, however, now I'm older I make choices who I want as friends or acquaintances. We can choose our friends, but not our families. Maybe (if possible) pick a day to visit your parents when your sibling won't be there. If this isn't possible make an excuse to decline seeing them and let them draw their own conclusions. If they openly accuse you of taking too much notice and tell you to ignore, you have the right to keep your distance. We have to protect ourselves and this can also mean distancing ourselves from our loved ones. I suggest you keep in touch by phone (email, online chat). This way it's one on one, if your sibling wants to chat, politely decline and end the communication.

Thanks Juliet_84. It's not a great realationship anyway, and I live on the other side of the country, so I guess I'm trying to find ways of fostering a more positive relationship but find it hard to get through the barrier. I've had advice that I need to be open about what's going on to give them a chance to respond, as they might surprise me. But being so far away I'm scared of their reaction, and if it goes the wrong way it kind of sets the tone for the whole year because we see each other so infrequently. But it affects how they interact with the rest of the family while I'm not there. There's a whole lot of factors. It's just a hard situation, and one I probably need a bit more courage, acceptance and assertiveness and a little less sensitivity.

Thanks paddyanne. It's nice to know that someone else has been through something similar with a sarcastic sibling. You are right in the choices we have to react and who we build relationships with - something to think about. Thanks.