Do you do a lot of delegating? Are others frequently delegating to you? As  a highly sensitive person, do you find yourself expected to support others too much?

Do you ever feel that you are drowning in needs to be met and problems to be solved?

Why is that?

Reasons for Delegating

Delegating can be a challenging topic because it has many potential pitfalls. Sometimes it can be beneficial, especially when we delegate to people whose expertise exceeds our own on a particular topic. Most of us experience organized delegation at work. Obviously no one can do everything, so work and tasks are organized and compartmentalized and each department has a delegated function.

We humans have been delegating for centuries and it has provided us with greater knowledge and many accomplishments.

So far so good. So why might there be a problem?

Delegating Is Not Always Beneficial

Delegating is not always helpful. When we delegate tasks, we delegate the responsibility. When we delegate responsibility, if it is poorly defined, we may be creating a situation where we cannot accomplish our goals.

When we delegate tasks, we often give others power over us, when we do not have the knowledge to discern whether or not the task is being well executed. Do flowers pushing through snow to live and thrive delegate their growth?

When we delegate to others, we may be inappropriate. We should not delegate that which we should be doing ourselves, or allow others to delegate their rightful responsibilities to us. Inappropriate delegation is an important part of codependent relationships.

Delegation is also a factor in sex roles, where women have been delegated the emotional work and men the physical work.

Delegation is a major factor in any dysfunctional family, group or even nation. In these dysfunctional situations, there are inevitably expectations that have been solidified. For example, in abusive families and groups, putting up with abuse is frequently expected and enforced. One way that happens is that the emotional burden of shame is transferred from the abuser to the victim. It is a form of delegation. All forms of discrimination are kept in place by this mechanism.

Using Delegating As A Healing Tool

Delegating can be used for healing purposes. It can be treated as an exploratory tool that shows you how the social structures around you work. It can also be used to discover how your identity works: what you delegate and what gets delegated to you will explain a lot of about you and your environment. It can be very useful to take a step back and try to notice the delegating patterns around you. The patterns are there if you look for them.

Seeing and acknowledging these delegating patterns and noticing the pain you may have around the family and social patterns in your life can help you develop a life that is better suited to you. We have all been born into patterns that are negative, since we live in a very violent and aggressive world. Perhaps some of us have been more affected than others, but nobody is untouched by cultural patterns.

One way to start your healing investigation is by keeping a journal. Notice when you feel uncomfortable, angry, depressed, sad, and shamed by an interaction. See if you can identify a delegation pattern.

Here is one example: John comes home from work, and is angry about his day  – as usual. He then takes over the family space, adjusting everything to his liking. He is delegating the responsibility for his feelings to his family, who then are expected to placate him. If this is a pattern that is supported in the extended family and one that everyone was raised with, then the shift in control of the space may occur without an objection being made. It has become a habit. The family may feel angry but their feelings will often become buried under the task of placating the father/husband, since their feelings have been demoted.

This pattern is not unusual in that emotions are frequently used as a way to enforce social pecking orders. There is a reason why anger in women is not as easily tolerated as anger in men.

Using Delegating To Improve Your Healing Practice

There are so many ways to help yourself heal. Over the past fifty years, there has been a lot of investigation of patterns to help us understand trauma and dysfunction and develop ways of improving our lives.

Life is lived moment to moment and day to day. That is also how habits and dysfunctional patterns develop as well. Delegating and our feelings about it is a wonderful way to learn about the patterns that we have learned  and that control our lives. Whether through journaling or other methods, I hope you will learn about delegating patterns in your life to free yourself from harmful dysfunction.

When you see something as a pattern, it is easier to be appropriate in your response to it. You can recognize that you did not create the harmful patterns, although you need to change it. It gives you a window of compassion and forgiveness that lets you heal.

It is something you deserve.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Tom Johnston, M.Ed., LMHC on May 15, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Emotional delegation is also part of emotional projection. The person repressing his/her emotions projects (blames) them on someone else. Often, this form of abuse goes unrecognized in families because children, having to come up with an explanation, blame themselves. Sensitive children moreso. Their quest for understanding begins.

    Delegating parental responsibilities onto children is also common when parents abuse their power. A pattern parents used in the past was to saddle the oldest child with taking care of his/her younger siblings. The oldest child was thereby denied the experience of his/her own childhood. This pattern may still be in use, but it hasn’t been fully studied. Thanks for your article.

    • Maria Hill on May 15, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Thanks, Tom for adding your insights. These emotional abuses create a lot of burdens for people.

      All the best,