EMPATHY AND THE QUEST FOR PEACE ~

tLately I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be an empathetic woman.  It truly is a double edged sword for we women of empathy. We tend to take on everyone’s problems as our own.  Like sponges, we absorb the trials, tribulations and missteps of the people we love, family or friend, most times because of the choices THEY make, and we internalize them.  Once the process starts, we go down the proverbial rabbit hole with our loved one or friend, their pain becomes ours, and we lose any chance of happiness or peace ourselves. Most of the time, they pick up, dust themselves off, and move on to the next thing, while we are left in the ash heap of exhaustive worry and care.

How does this happen? And why is it so HARD to stop?

I had a childhood with, for the most part, an absentee mother.  Even when she was physically present, she was emotionally unavailable.

Good news, bad news.

The good is that it made me grow up self-reliant and strong.  I had to mother myself, so I learned early that I just had to forge ahead on my own steam. I learned about self-love and self-care because it wasn’t going to come from anywhere else.

The bad news is that it turned me into somewhat of a “Smother Mother.”  Memories of being emotionally abandoned  as a child come flooding back when someone I love has a crisis, and I  jump in with both feet.  I simply can’t rest until I’ve solved their problem, sometimes single-handedly. The consequence of this, is that the people I love never learn to be self reliant themselves, ergo, the circle continues…..

Do you do this, too?

Over the years, this has resulted in a lot of stress management courses and therapy for me.  I have had to learn how to let go, how to separate myself from the problem or person that was draining me of my spirit, and my right to live a happy life.  SO not easy if you are a highly empathetic person.  I feel the pain of people I don’t even know, and acutely.

But I have come to learn that it’s about choice.  If someone knowingly did something in his or her life that is now causing them trouble, I can’t clean up the mess, as it’s not a choice I made.  If  he or she is sick physically or mentally, and they are actively trying to heal, doing all the right things, I am there for them like white on rice, as this they didn’t choose.

Do you see what I am saying? With this as a boundary set in place, we all get to choose our own path.

I am by nature an upbeat person, and at 55, I FINALLY realized that I have a RIGHT to live in my truth, which is to be happy.  I hate being sad, being anxious, fretting and worrying myself sick.  So I JUST STOPPED DOING IT!!  No matter what is happening around me, my litmus test is now (A.) did that person knowingly make the choices to cause his or her misery, and( B.) if not, is that person doing everything he or she can to help themselves get better?  Then I take it from there.

Jump in, or breathe and release….

It’s not easy and I don’t always do it…but I’m getting so much better at it.  This path frees me up to be at peace, supportive from a distance if necessary, and true to who I am.

You have one life, ladies….live it well, or die trying!

Have a lovely weekend ~

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