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3 Beliefs About Being Responsible That Are Making Life Heavier Than It Needs to Be (and How to Shift Them)

3 Beliefs About Being Responsible That Are Making Life Heavier Than It Needs to Be (and How to Shift Them)

I wasn’t letting the oxygen go all the way to the bottom of my lungs. I wasn’t allowing the muscles along the back of my neck to let go.

I wasn’t letting myself relax because I thought I couldn’t.

But I was wrong.

As my husband Mike and I reinvent our relationship after nearly 10 years of being all up in each other’s business (the one we’ve built together), so we can both expand in ways we haven’t been able to while running the day-to-day together, a lot is changing.

With all of the shifts, I’d taken on an identity that made me feel strong and proud at first:

Primary breadwinner.

I’d drive up to my house and look at it and think, “My ideas bought this house.”

I’d think about our team and think, “Wow! Isn’t it so cool that my business supports not only my own family, but also, at least in part, the families of these incredible women, too?”

I’d think back to being in my early twenties, turning my back on my mounting credit card debt and feeling like I was “playing business,” and revel in how far I’d come.

Then a couple of weeks ago the scales tipped, and I no longer felt strong and proud.

I’d started wearing the identity of primary breadwinner as a martyr, not as the heroine of my own story.

(And when I dug deeper, it wasn’t even an accurate identity.)

It started to feel like a burden. 

The things that I’d been holding with pride began to feel heavy. Really freaking heavy.

It came to my attention that there were 3 insidious beliefs hiding just under the surface of my “primary breadwinner” identity that were responsible for the extra weight.

I’m sharing them because I’m likely not the only one who’s found herself having thoughts that are making her life harder.

I’ve taken the liberty of turning each one of the insidious beliefs into a supportive one, so you don’t need to do those mental gymnastics. 

3 insidious beliefs about responsibility swapped out for supportive ones:

This “Lone Ranger” archetype I’d put on was making me feel lonely in my significant responsibility. With the help of my coach I put my attention on all of the community I have around me contributing to bigger mission (including my amazing husband, even if our work relationship is changing.)

Hello, instant relief. I no longer felt isolated. I no longer felt over-burdened. Instead, I felt excited to contribute to the greater whole, knowing that the greater whole is not exclusively up to me. I’m simply responsible for showing up for my shift.

When you’re carrying a really heavy tote bag and you let someone else hold the other strap, you instantly lighten your load by 50%. I was riding so high and mighty on my “primary breadwinner” horse that I’d forgotten the 3 keys to effective delegation, which I find myself telling my friends and clients all the time (that I’ll also be sharing in the masterclass I’m leading this week).

Focusing on letting others take over the things that you’re not even the best person for is one of the most freeing things for you– and empowering things for other people– that you can do.

The belief that our primary purpose as adults is to make money has been drilled into us by toxic capitalism. It’s a lie that keeps us grinding, exhausted, and orienting to the world through the lens of lack.

I’m not saying that money doesn’t matter. I’m saying that deluding ourselves that making money is our purpose (and that the only way to do it is to put in more hours and work harder) perpetuates the very system that has indoctrinated us to believe that we have to suffer a certain amount in order to deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor and rest.

Instead, I’ve reprioritized plugging into Source (more on the specifics of how I do that on the blog next week – make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it).

The result? I found myself saying the following to a friend last week:

Nothing in my life changed, but everything suddenly feels easier.

Imagine it’s tomorrow. You’ve had a 60-minute mind-blowing experience where you’ve rearranged your internal landscape so that now you’re relating to your workload, your responsibilities, and time in a completely different way. And you find yourself feeling that exact same way: that nothing has shifted externally, yet suddenly everything feels better.

Sign up for my brand-new masterclass, 3 Ways Overworking and Going It Alone Are Destroying Your Business (and How to Fix It!), and that experience is yours for the taking.

Being human is a lot. But there are things that we do and think that make it harder than it needs to be.

For me, identifying as the primary breadwinner was one of those things.

So I decided to put it down.

Nothing else actually changed. But essentially everything did.

Which one of the 3 beliefs about being responsible resonates the most with you, and which new belief are you going to carry with you instead? Since it’s my first week back on the blog in almost 2 years, I would LOVE to read what this brought up for you so leave a comment!

So happy to be back here on the blog with you,


  • Susie Pettit says:

    All three!!!! #1 for sure as I moved into being a single divorced mom of 3 sons. Have reframed that yet still today am challenged by number 3! Thank you for the work you do (I’ll be on the webinar today!!) as it’s helped me tremendously

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m so glad this resonated Susie – it was so great to have you on the Masterclass. You were an awesome participant. I hope it was helpful for you!

  • Diana Gomes says:

    You are such an inspiration Kate!!!
    You have the gift of putting in words what so many of us feel!!

    Thank you for sharing!!
    Blessings to you ;)

  • Nicole Lane says:

    Hi Kate – all 3 of these beliefs resonate so heavily and intensely for me. I’ve been the primary bread winner of our household for our entire relationship … and now with two young kids at home it’s too much. I can’t do it all and I know that I need to be able to shift some of the responsibilities and feelings of burden off my shoulders… but I have a hard time letting go, trusting others to do the job, and feel guilty for even saying that I can’t hold on to so many things. I’m looking forward to your webinar.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      It’s definitely a practice Nicole. And you can do it. Step by step, bit by bit, you can let go. You can be held. Sending you love!

  • What a great blog – ‘nothing in my life changed but everything feels easier’ and the whole I’ve so much to do and I’m the only one who can do it – both hit the spot. I’m at a place where I know I need/want to change my mindset about the domestic stuff. There’s SO MUCH to do with a 2 year old and a 4 year old and building a new business and writing a book and I don’t want to be worn down by the martyr complex that I end up inhabiting too often. Can’t wait for the masterclass tonight! xxx

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Thank you for being here Rebecca and for coming to the masterclass. I hope it was useful for you!

  • Nadina says:

    I am excited about your new phase on life and business. I consider you my mentor. Your steps help mine. I’d love READ about you. And I am thinking about reduce my ecosystem of communication with my clients. In a Do Less way, looking for effectiveness.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m so glad this resonates with you Nadina! I’m excited about this new phase of life and business too. And yes to reading it. Glad this resonates with you!

  • Kirsten says:

    So interesting that the smallest reframe can create so much relief! Thanks for sharing Kate.

  • So happy to see you back on the blog! And thank you for this message. The part about re-prioritizing a connection with Source really hit it home for me.

  • Kate, Reading your blog today was so nourishing. The first belief has resonated a lot for me in the past. I’ve been happily shifting that narrative and welcoming in more team work. Thank you for your words and the work you do in the world, helping us put them into action to live our purpose with more ease. Grateful for you!

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Thank you for being here Sheila and for always being such a beautiful champion of this work!

  • Fiona Lovely says:

    Woah. And yes. So much yes! I didn’t even know I was carrying around this pride over being the breadwinner and yet wondering for years why I am so tired and crispy all the time. (Figured it was peri-menoopause!) This struck deep in my belly like a gong. Thanks Kate for bringing my attention to this. Releasing and letting go of this heavy mantle.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Oh Fiona – I’m so glad that my realization could become OUR realization. Lay it down, sister.

  • Can I add loneliness to your list? In my early 20s this was something I felt really really family. And I remember feeling exceptionally alone. I’m so glad I don’t have to feel that way anymore! Excited for your new master class to Frank’s

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Yes – loneliness. That is such a big one. I’m excited you’re coming to the masterclass!

  • Kate! THIS. So much head-nodding over here. Especially #1. I’ve seen how powerful it is when leaders make this shift, it’s like the burdens of the world are lifted :) And it transforms the dynamic in teams to be more generative. Everyone feels it!

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