The Responsibility Dimension


There are three problematic patterns in the Responsibility Dimension—Victim, Powerless, and Controlling. You may click on each link to learn more about the pattern and then decide if you want to explore it, now or later.

The Victim Pattern involves playing victim—believing that you are the victim of other people’s harmful behavior, your life circumstances, or your own psychological pain, and there is nothing you can do about it. You are attached to the idea that people have done you wrong and harbor an unconscious hope that they will recognize this and take care of you. This pattern sometimes originates in circumstances in which you really were the victim of circumstances and had no power to change them. According to the Pattern System, you have the Victim Pattern only if you now have the power to change your life but are nonetheless invested in seeing yourself as a victim.

The Powerless Pattern involves allowing yourself to be powerless and at the effect of other people or situations while not taking any responsibility for changing your situation or making your life work, even when you could. This is different from the Victim Pattern because you don’t have any investment in being a victim. (This pattern is not yet in STJ.)

The Controlling Pattern involves believing that you can or should always control your situation and other people. You try to do that even when it is impossible and when it creates problems because you don’t flow with events.


There are two complementary healthy capacities in the Responsibility Dimension--Surrender and Responsibility. You may click on each link to learn more about the capacity and then decide if you want to work on developing it, now or later.

The Surrender Capacity involves being able to yield to the flow of events in your life. You recognize that events sometimes move in unexpected directions and that you can’t always control what happens to you. You don’t try to control everything in your life. Instead, you allow yourself to flow with what is happening in the moment, surfing the waves of change. (This capacity is not yet in STJ.)

The Responsibility Capacity involves being in charge of your life and having the attitude that you are responsible for getting what you want and protecting yourself from harm, within the limits of what a person can do. You are an active agent in your life.

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Go to Interpersonal Dimension Group