“If you stop caring, you’re jaded, but if you care too much, it’ll ruin you.” – Criminal Minds
I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a bleeding heart. Ok…not just a bit and not a bleeding heart liberal. Just a plain, old, gigantic bleeding heart. You see, my heart tends to be uber sensitive. When I see someone in need, it tugs at my heartstrings. Not in any normal sort of a way. No, in a way that literally stops me in my tracks, never allowing me to look away. Today, I’m opening up about my daily struggle. I’m one of those die hard do gooders that can’t stand to see people suffering and there’s so much suffering in the world.
So, what’s a girl to do when she wants to save the world? What if her efforts to save the world end up bringing her down too? This a real dilemma and one that I face every single day like so many of you. Life is a slow process of self revelation, isn’t it? Every single experience in life teaches us something about ourselves. I always liked the “Do Gooder” quality about myself until recently. Now that I have a little more of a public platform, I’ve been inundated with requests from those in need. Those suffering from Lyme Disease, anxiety, depression, and many more are in desperate need of help. I’ve found myself stretched so thinly running from one person in need to another. How do you save the world if you don’t save yourself first?
It goes back to the principle of the Mother on an airplane who learns to put on her own oxygen mask before tending to her child. Being a Mother, it’s a natural reflex to want to protect your child first. I’ve always been quite the Mother Bear! It goes against my natural tendencies as a Mom to put my own needs first. It’s a lesson I’m still learning. I can easily find myself drained of energy by being tugged in so many directions. My heart wants to help each and every person but the truth is I’m only one person and I can’t do it all. I’ve made some decisions recently to begin scaling back as I can feel the impact on my health and wellbeing. How do I help others if I am hurting myself? Burnout is real and I’ve been feeling it lately, perhaps just like you. Yet, the old stories and the Catholic guilt continue to flog my mindset telling me that I must help everyone. I’m sure many of you also suffer from a Mother Theresa complex. It’s what almost sent me to join the Peace Corps and The National Guard before common sense took ahold of me.
I want to be clear: helping those in need is a major driver in my life! It always will be. I won’t let that take a back seat in what I do. This blog and the public persona being created from it is meant to carry the message of caring, consideration, empowerment, aid, and empathy for others. I’m searching for a healthy delicate balance; a balance in helping myself enough so that I’m strong enough to help others. As someone recovering from Lyme Disease, it’s well known that stress activates the illness and causes devastating relapses. I’m doing my best to make sure that I don’t tax my time and energy so much, that I relapse and end up being the one that needs help! Isn’t it becoming aware of our internal patterning and taking control of those patterns? That’s still a challenge for me as my original patterning was solely focused on the well being of others while completing neglecting myself. In Dr. Phil’s famous words, “How’s that working for you?” Well, not so well, Dr. Phil!
How do you handle this issue in your own life? How do you take care of yourself and put your own needs first in a guilt free manner? I don’t have the answers. I’m still in the struggle and it’s real. Very real. That old Catholic guilt resurfaces from time to time. When I sit with myself and go deep within, I’m grateful to have such a compassionate heart and a deep sense of connection to others. I’m blessed to feel that I’m in integrity most of the time although my prior “people pleasing” ways sometimes muddy the waters. I’ve learned that people pleasing comes from a need for approval from others and not an authentic space. As I’m working to heal this aspect of my personality by becoming more real with both myself and others, I’m working to find a healthy balance. I’m making decisions to create more balance in my own life as I’m sure many of you are doing as well. My intention behind “Capturing Grace” is a means of opening a dialogue with my readers. I don’t have the answers. I invite you to join me in this conversation. How do you create balance in your own life? How do you handle those who are suffering and in need? How do you deal with the guilt in not being able to help everyone? As women, isn’t this something that you’re facing in your own lives? I welcome your suggestions as I continue on the tightrope searching for that delicate balance.