Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Protecting Your Self As You Care

"The most compassionate, effective route to healing people is to be a supportive presence, not to attempt to live their pain for them." (Dr. Judith Orloff)

As a young executive, Nors works as a personal assistant to their company's CEO. She carries extra weight, assigned to do work of multiple departments by her boss.

It's natural for Nors to want to please her boss-auntie. Even care to ease her boss' angst over serious personal problems and decisions.

But she doesn't stop there. Inadvertently, she takes it on. Absorbs everything. Suddenly she's the one feeling desolate and bereft when she's ok before.

When I was a beginning psychotherapist, I too would fall into the same trap. My clients would go home feeling better. And I'd be a sickly wreck from everything I absorbed.

This kind of "empathy" wasn't good for me as well as for those who see me for help.

I've learned therefore the value of protecting my self as I care. To be a catalyst for people's healing and wholeness without compromising my own well-being.

Wounded people themselves taught me a lesson: I can't attempt to live their pain for them. It's not my job. Nor it's yours or anyone else.

It's not love to deprive a person of his or her life experiences. And learning lessons or maturing from them. It's sabotage.


I knew this once with a situation with one of my adult children. She overspent from her job's salary and her car was about to be taken legally.

Feeling to be a bighearted Dad, I rescued her financially before. But this time, I noticed a fine line between helping my daughter and trying to do it for her.

In response to her pleas, I cared and got honest with her yet still let her be. I chose to honor her growth process.

Thankfully, my daughter learned an invaluable lesson and came out well. It would not had happened if I did too much for her.

Compassion, empathy, or the desire to help is human. But striking a balance to protect your self and the other is essential.