Care-taking vs. Care-giving: How we disempower ourselves and others – Part I

Have you experienced well-meaning people in your life doing something for you in the spirit of “helping out” or “caring” for you, but the impact wasn’t helpful or empowering? Maybe their “help” actually created new problems or left you feeling weaker?

To help unravel this curious phenomena, I’m going to write about from a first person perspective…

Here’s the deal: care-taking is a selfish, not a generous, act. When I “care-take” you,  I am actually putting my needs first.

Help is only helpful if it fits the actual need...
Help is only helpful if it fits the actual need…

Here are two forms care-taking often takes:
1) False Reassurance: I touch you and tell you “everything will work out in the end”, “It’ll be okay”, “This too shall pass” etc.
2) Forced Solution: I offer (or do) what I think I would want in your situation, e.g., I give you a hug, hold your hand, bring over lots of friends, leave you alone, turn up the heat etc.

There are other versions too, but what they ALL have in common is they are attempts to:
1) FIX your problem (WITHOUT asking you what you want).
2) Make ME feel better (less helpless or confused)

The impact of care-taking is to steal a little bit of power, independence – and perhaps self-respect – from the recipient of the “care”. Care-giving, on the other hand, leaves one feeling stronger and respected and more  empowered.

There’s more to it than this, but this is good starting point.

I’m not out to help you demonize those people in your life for whom you rely on for support. So the question to consider, is “Where are you care-taking others?”. Where are you NOT asking for what you want because you’ve already decided it’ll inconvenience or burden them (without checking in with them)?

More on Friday…    ~Z