MANAGING STRESS IN OUR LIVES

Entries in support (2)

Sunday
Jan072018

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTIVE OF SOMEONE?

When I was looking at the acknowledgments at the beginning of a book by Kate DiCamillo called The Tiger Rising, I noticed that the acknowledgments ended with thanking a specific person for "believing that I could and that I can. And that I will." I rarely look at this section of a book but I did this time and really only at the end that I have quoted above.  Who knows why?  However, I believe that this is one way of talking about or describing what being supportive and encouraging is.

This is important to me because when I am helping my patients to stop feeling and acting responsible for others, they need to have something that they can replace that with. I believe that being encouraging and supportive is a good way to interact with others. However, defining it has been difficult for me. That is why I was encouraged when I saw what Kate DiCamillo had written in her acknowledgments. So, is believing in someone part of being encouraging and supportive?  I think it is and I have focused on people seeing the strengths in others and communicating this to them as a way of being supportive and encouraging. This does not involve giving advice, making suggestions or taking on responsibility for the other person. Often people that we want to help are not feeling confident, nor recognizing their strengths and abilities.  That is why it is important to recognize the strengths of people we care about and also why it is so very important to not undermine their confidence by giving advice or taking over for them.

I have repeatedly seen that it is critical to not take over for others as this undermines their confidence and is not kind or caring or loving. Now, if someone is used to being dependent on others to do for them and people start expecting them to manage for themselves, they may react negatively at first.  Their reaction indicates that they have a beginning awareness of their need to take responsibility for themselves. So, if you are encouraging and supporting others, they may get mad at you.  This is a good thing as it means that they are more likely to change and start taking responsibility for themselves.  What do you think?

Wednesday
Jun212017

IF IT IS EXHAUSTING IT MUST BE WRONG!

It has become clear in my work with people that when they are interacting with others and feel exhausted or drained that something is wrong in how they are interacting. This may seem obvious but fairly often people tell me that they are exhausted by being with certain people. Now it may be only certain people but often I have seen where people are exhausted interacting with some people and then tend to not interact with others. It also seems obvious that people at times need more help and that this can be exhausting. So, does that mean that helping people is wrong, or is there something wrong with helping in a way that leads to feeling exhausted?

I have seen repeatedly that when people feel responsible for others or take on responsibility for others, they frequently end up feeling exhausted.  It is hard to stop "helping" others as they still seem to need help and to not be able to manage for themselves. Frequently my patients tell me that if they stop "helping" others, in other words stop taking responsibility for them, they will get angry.  Also, if my patients have pressing needs of their own, the people they are "helping" will often still get angry as if my patient's needs do not count as much.

No wonder it is exhausting. It seems like it is never ending. Why is that? Well, it seems that once a pattern is established where one person is "helping" [taking on responsibility for] another person, that person depends on it and feels that they are entitled to the help. So, if it stops for any reason [including any obvious need for help of the person helping] the person who has been helped is upset, often angry, and frequently will feel and act self-righteously.  This is often confusing and painful to the person who has been helping as they thought that the person being helped would be more than happy to help them if they needed help. Not so as the person being helped still feels the same needs to be helped and they are not easily put aside to then return the favor and help the person who had always helped them. It frequently does not occur to them that the person helping them would ever actually need help.

So what are you supposed to do.  Well, it is good to become more aware of the tendency to feel responsible for others and not let yourself fall into this trap.  Being aware of the stress involved can help, however, the stress of stopping this is a factor as well.  If you are feeling or acting responsible for others you are likely someone who does not like to see other people struggling.  You might have a tendency to jump in to help.  Well, you may need to redefine help for yourself.  Help is not doing for others or protecting them from feelings or stress. Helping is being encouraging and supportive as you are able to see their strengths and coping abilities and can be encouraging and supportive of them using these.  Believing in others and their ability to manage is very helpful and supportive. Doing things for them can undermine their self-confidence as they can interpret your help as meaning that you don't believe that they can manage. However, not doing things for others can seem cold and uncaring.  

To see a depiction of the importance of believing in others you could watch a short film entitled "The Butterfly Circus."