"What is not brought into consciousness is brought to us as fate."
- Carl Jung
As we answer the call to care for others, we sometimes take on too much. This can be related to the shadow side of caring. Reflecting on our shadows allows us for more space for our light to shine through. The call to enter the helping professions comes with an obligation to create space and receive love for ourselves.
Caring is a precious skill. However, there are times when caring for others at the expense of our own well-being can become problematic. We may neglect our own needs and desires, leading to burnout, stress, and resentment. In these cases, it is important to remember that self-care is also a critical component of caring for others. So why do we caregivers often end up putting other's needs ahead of our own?
Here is a summary of several ways our wounds lead us to prioritize others at our own expense.
- Survival mode: Trauma can trigger a survival mode response in our brain, which leads us to focus on the needs of those around us rather than our own needs. Our brain may perceive that we need to prioritize others’ needs to ensure their survival and safety, even at the expense of our own.
- Codependency: We feel responsible for other people’s emotions and well-being. This can cause us to prioritize their needs and ignore our own.
- Personal value: Our wounds can diminish our sense of self-worth, causing us to believe that others are more important than us. We may think that our needs are insignificant or that we don’t deserve to have our needs met.
- Coping mechanism: Prioritizing the needs of others can be a coping mechanism for dealing with our own pain. It can give us a sense of purpose and control, and distract us from our own pain and struggles. This one is super prevalent among caregivers!
- Empathy/Enmeshment: Empathy allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, recognizing their humanity and seeing ourselves in their struggles. When we see aspects of ourselves in our clients, we can sometimes become enmeshed and confuse their pain as if it was our own.
It is important to strike a balance between caring for others and caring for ourselves. By taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health, we are better able to show up for those who depend on us, and we can model the importance of self-care for our clients.
Those interested in exploring their own relationship to caregiving (or better put, care-taking) are invited to join our upcoming Caregiver's Journey Back to Self Ceremony near Victoria, BC.
Progress Your Practice
Enjoy these tools to help you and your clients.
- Caregiver's Journey Back to Self Ceremony
Cacao ceremony, sound healing and qigong to help you go from over-whelmed to self-love. Join Caregiver's Journey Back to Self for an opportunity to fill your cup with an evening of community, healing, sharing and reflection for those that care for others, sometimes at our own expense. (more information on the FaceBook event)
- How-To Guide for Interrupting "Survival Mode" (15-min read)
Read this simply article for a run-down of tactics and strategies to help you regulate when you are in survival mode.
- The "Golden Rule" in Helping Professions (10-min read)
The basic idea is this, "Do unto yourself what you would expect others to do unto themselves." This article expands on the importance for helping professionals to practice what we preach, complete with quotes from several of the world's wisdom traditions.
If you have feedback or resources to share, please reply to let me know.
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