“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.” ~Pema Chodron
I’m a fixer. I want to solve all the world’s problems. Those of my kids, my friends, and even those in the world (hence my umbrella project, for those of you in the know). And we have this belief that when our loved ones are in pain, that should trump everything – even our own needs. Their pain gets our top priority, and whatever goals and dreams we’ve been working are put to the wayside as we help them. I used to think that was love. Sacrificing of myself. It is but as the old saying goes – “too much of a good thing ….”
This form of self-sacrifice has always come naturally to me. I’m lucky, right? I’m an inherent caregiver. So transparent that I even surprise myself at times. You know those caretakers in your life. The ones who make you feel safe and cared for. The ones who can be there and listen at just the right moment.
But, as with anything, there are some downsides to trying to solve so many problems. It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming nature of taking it all on. I get that sometimes love calls on us to invest our energy and time into tending to another’s pain. But at what cost? That’s the big issue here – can you take care of yourself and others at the same time? If not, it’s time to pay attention to this issue.
While it seems like chaos out there, we are not (and cannot) be responsible for the world’s pain. We can give of ourselves and can look internally at what we can do to make a difference – but there’s no magic healing powder we can sprinkle on every person walking in our sphere. I wish it were that easy.
Compassion may mean saying no sometimes. Generosity has to have some of it allocated to the giver. And Kindness – well some should be reserved for the one who is giving it out. Saying yes to your own needs will obviously mean learning to say no to others who have become accustomed to our availability and accommodation. This is hardest with your closest family members who have come to rely on you (Dad – not talking about you here!). So recognize the guilt you might feel but don’t allow it to make your decisions
Look, I’m thankful that I have the ability to be transparent (very) and can be a giver … a wound-tender. Sometimes blindingly so. But even I need to tend to myself at times. So friends, this is my gentle reminder that you all should do the same.
Yes, give your love freely and deeply. But, also give it freely and deeply to yourself.