It can be difficult to watch people struggle, especially someone we love and care about. Our first response is likely to want to fix or save them.
However, consider the following:
- In our struggles are lessons. If we rescue others (or wait for rescue), they (we) can miss the lesson that is waiting for them (us). That lesson may keep them (us) from making the same mistake over again.
- When we practice taking responsibility for our lives, we learn that we are strong and resilient as we come out on the other side. We not only rob someone of that feeling of accomplishment when we rush to rescue, we keep them from building their self-confidence.
- We are not the Happiness Police. It is not our job to make sure everyone around us is happy.
Sometimes we need to be unhappy or angry or frustrated or …insert feeling here… Sometimes we need to let others be in and work through their stuff.
- Rescuing creates dependence. Are we afraid if this person becomes independent they won’t need us anymore? Do we get our self-worth from taking care of them? We need to address our motives when creating this dynamic in a relationship.
- Rescuing and trying to fix sends the message that they are not capable of taking care of themselves.
What CAN we do?
Let them know that they are not alone and the door is open if, and when, they need support. It’s up to them to walk through that door, it’s not our job to carry them through.
Allow them to practice asking for what they need rather than trying to figure it out for them. Be empathetic, listen and try not to “fix” their problem.
What if YOU are struggling?
Ask yourself, “What do I need to process these thoughts and emotions?” Then practice reaching out to someone who is “holding the door open” and make a request for support.
It’s amazing what happens when we are given the space to feel how we feel with no judgement.
I’m reminded of the story about a butterfly. (Take a moment to read Paulo Coehlo’s version of the story below)
If we want to fly, we must first be willing to struggle out of our cocoon.
What’s harder, sometimes, is we must allow others to do the same.
The Lesson of the Butterfly
December 10, 2007
By Paulo Coelho
A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.
(Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)
How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?
Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.
If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.
They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.
This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.
The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.
But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”
I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.
For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.
We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.
The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.
I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!
If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.
Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?
What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?
Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.
Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?
Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.
Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.
For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.
Recently I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my computer when I suddenly realized it was 3:30 in the afternoon and I was still in my pajamas.
It reminded of the days when my kids were little. There were times I didn’t get a shower until after my husband got home, the house was a mess and I had no clue what we were going to have for dinner.
Starting and growing a business is a lot like raising children.
They both consist of long hours and low pay, only at the beginning of your business, hopefully, or no pay, in the case of motherhood.
You really have no idea whether you are doing the right thing or even if what you’re doing is effective. You want to believe you’re doing a good job raising your kids but you really have no idea until they get to be adults. Same thing with a business, there’s a lot of trial, error and adjustment.
I remember standing over my sleeping child praying that I wouldn’t do something to mess them up too much. As a business owner, I sometimes wake up at night wondering why in the world I decided to put myself out there for all the world to see if I should fail.
When my kids were in school, we were friends with their friend’s parents. There were always tennis matches, swim meets and school events where parents congregated and communed. The support of other parents was invaluable as we commiserated about the struggles of parenting.
Now I go to networking events and commune with other business women. The support of like-minded successful women has kept me in business.
Being a mom and a business owner has taught me a few things along the way:
- Beware of people who offer advice, and there will be many. Listen but don’t be quick to take it if it doesn’t feel right for you. As with your children, your business is your responsibility. Follow what feels right for you not what the so-called experts say is right.
- Learn from other people’s mistakes and emulate their success. My parental role models were women who had successfully raised happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. Who are the successful business women you admire? Surround yourself with them and listen for their advice.
- Most of all, enjoy the journey. So many people told me to enjoy my kids because they grow up so fast. That was the best piece of advice I ever received and tried to savor every moment. Now I am trying to do the same when it comes to my business.
Even with all of our struggles and mistakes, we always seem to remember the “good old days.” Someday, these will be the good old days. Why not enjoy them now?
Recently our son noticed how his sister loved to play music on her smartphone but had a very cheap speaker. The sound quality wasn’t all that good but we never heard her complain about it.
Our daughter’s birthday was coming so he decided he would get her a new, better quality wireless speaker even though she had not asked for it.
When she opened the gift, she let out a squeal of delight. She was completely surprised because, although she wanted a new speaker, she had not asked for it.
Her delight was magnified because her brother was paying attention to what she liked (her music) and what she needed (a new speaker).
I think there would be less ugliness in the world if we simply paid attention.
I believe most people want to know they matter and what they have to say matters. We have a tendency to be so caught up in ourselves that we forget to pay attention to what’s going on around us.
When we aren’t paying attention, our children can think we don’t care, our spouses feel neglected, even the people we meet in the street can be left feeling that we are cold and detached.
My grandfather taught me what a gift it was to pay attention. Everyone agreed he was a great guy. When asked why, they would say that he made them feel special. All he did was pay attention.
When I was talking to my grandfather, it seemed like we were the only two people in the world. He would listen attentively and ask questions that pertained to what I was saying. He made whomever he was speaking to feel special because he payed attention.
I have also had the experience of people who talk incessantly and are not the least bit interested in what I have to say. Whether it’s true or not, I am left with the feeling that they really don’t care about me.
As a volunteer for Step By Step (a non-profit organization that provides empowering workshops for women who are, have been or are at risk of being incarcerated), I have had the privilege to work with veteran workshop facilitator Sally Kohler. Sally writes and facilitates the workshops for both women in jail and for when they come out.
Sally pays attention to the women who sit in her workshop. She is accepting and listens intently therefore many of them feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives.
Because Sally pays attention, these women begin to feel worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
I have witnessed people transform their lives simply because someone took the time to pay attention to them.
The great thing about paying attention is that you can begin now and it doesn’t cost you anything. I suggest you begin by paying attention to yourself.
Pay attention to the thoughts you have about yourself. If you wouldn’t say those things to your children or your best friend then why are you letting them clutter your mind. Pay attention and let them go.
By paying attention to what and, more importantly, who is in front of us, we affirm that they matter. That simple act serves to bring more love, understanding and peace to our world.
I recently heard an interview with Tim McGraw where he said something that made me angry. He said he always knew he wanted to be somebody.
Does that mean that there are people who aren’t somebody? What does that make them? Nobody?
Chances are we’ve all said or heard this saying and I’m sure Mr. McGraw didn’t set out to tick me off. But I was curious about what got me all riled up.
I notice that I feel the same way when I watch TV shows like the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians.
Why do we care so much about these people?
It seems to me we are a society obsessed with fame and trying to be somebody.
If fame can’t be achieved by getting on a reality show, then some people try getting on TV by leaking a sex tape, doing some idiotic stunt or, heaven forbid, an act of violence. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
We wonder why so many people in this country have mounting debt. We’re all just trying to keep up with the Kardashians.
As an adult with half a brain, I realize that these shows are anything but reality and are on the air because they make the networks money.
However, children and teens can fall victim to thinking they are a nobody because they cannot live the same lifestyle as the people they watch on TV.
As a volunteer with women in jail, the majority come from abuse and addiction. A lot of them don’t know how to live (or parent their children) because they were never parented.
Are these women somebody? According to Tim McGraw and I dare say our society, I would guess no. It’s too easy to dismiss and forget about those who are struggling to live; the homeless, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts.
What is missing from our society and culture that is creating this?
I believe it is because we have forgotten our inherent worthiness. What does that mean?
It means that just by our mere presence on this planet, we are somebody.
Worthiness is something that is born in each of us. It cannot be taken away but we can forget that it is our birthright.
We think that if we are famous and have adoring fans, then we will feel and, therefore be, worthy. Then we will be happy right?
But what if those fans never come? Or what if they come and then go away? This is a set up for disaster.
How many stars have turned to drugs or alcohol when they found themselves no longer relevant?
If we know our true worth, then it doesn’t matter how many followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if we lose them all, we will know that we are still somebody.
How do you measure your self-worth? What can we do as parents and a society to help our children cultivate a healthy self-worth?
What do you need to do to be somebody in your own life?