Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Crippling care? To coddle or butt out?

My Lord! This is the season of hacking and stiffness, death and bugs. Recently I'm realizing how my energy effects others. When I worry, I come with a whole set of automatic behaviors. I ask a lot of questions. "Are you drinking enough water?" "Did you exercise today?" "Do you think you're ready to go out?" Are you taking care of yourself? I might bring vitamins and tea. I suggest some stretches. I hover and gauge how my "patient" is progressing. It feels like caring. But sometimes its effect can be annoying.

Jeeze. Why?

I stopped to consider this phenomenon after I picked up a "tone" from a couple of people I deemed to be in need of some TLC, some intervention attention. So I journaled and meditated and journaled some more. Then it hit me. There are a host of individuals who don't enjoy associating themselves with weakness, sickness or loss. While some like to revel in the attention that comes with being under the weather, others (myself included) do better with the personal space needed to be stronger, to grab one's bootstraps and plug along. Plugging along, for many, is the best medicine. Constant reminders of being in a weakened state can keep you focused on that weakened state.

With this insight. I backed off and stopped focusing on the "condition." I stopped asking all those questions and resumed treating individuals like whole people. Instantly, the tone changed. The energy got lighter and more pleasant.

So, yes, some people do enjoy the coddling. But be mindful of who you're dealing with and act accordingly. Sometimes care can be crippling.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Concern for others or fear for self?

I'm often the problem solver in my family and friends circle. When someone talks about an illness, a problem, a conflict, etc. my antenna rises, and my mind churns overtime. I can't count the hours that I've mulled over somebody else's hardship of the moment-- unable to rest until I'd shared some possible solutions.

Why? Because I love them. I want them to be happy and healthy and free of worry. I don't want anybody to fall into depression, sickness, or poverty, nor do I want them to give up. If I can't solve it, then I can at least be a cheerleader. 

But lately there have been rumblings in my soul that question my true intentions. I'm starting to suspect that my motivation may be less honorable than I'd imagined. There are actually two sides to my modus operandi. Yes I do love them, but the other side of that coin is fear for myself.

A while back, my close friend (We'll call her Nora.) was overwhelmed by being a single parent away from her home up north. She was a part of our close inner circle of parents who supported each other regularly by babysitting, sharing about issues, and getting together to socialize. Whenever Nora mentioned going back home, I ticked off a list of reasons why our little city was better for childrearing, education, travel, making a living, and making ends meet. She always felt better about where she was by the end of the conversation, but I now realize it was never resolved for her. Most of what I said was probably true. But the underlying impetus for my aggressive counterarguments was fear that Nora would leave. That I would miss her and her children. That my life would change in a way that I wasn't ready for.

So sometimes my investment in other people's problems might mask the question of What will happen to me? 

I now see that the answer to that question is What happens to me isn't important. 


It's true. Everybody gets to have their journey. They get to move, fall off the wagon, waste their money, eat lousy food, overmedicate, break the law, ignore their health, lose their minds. Whether I like it or not. My late night phone calls and amateur coaching does not spin other people's lives on a dime. 

I know that's true because I definitely reserve and protect my right to do whatever the hell I please. It's my life, and it really is nobody else's business how I live it. If I'm not hurting anybody, then so be it. 

My point: Having relationships means limited involvement in other folks' lives. Sharing opinions and advice when asked is natural and healthy. But ongoing input, observations and monitoring crosses the line. That veers into the realm of wanting what we want for that person. Question your motivation for being involved. Don't ignore the fact that there is a natural life process that requires gathering experiences, abiding one's consequences, revamping, reorienting--- learning.

Things will happen to others on their journey. Our true need is not to always interfere, rescue, invest. Because most of what happens is simply out of our control. Our personal job is to gather the courage to live with what happens along the way, so that we retain the energy needed to make sense of our own lives.

I'll reiterate a saying that I love: The best thing we can give to others is the example of our own life working.

Didn't read Salt in the Sugar Bowl yet? Order your copy today!  

And check my website for upcoming events.