02 April 2007

Care Taking:Generous Self Sacrifice or Mindful Manipulation?

Care taking/caregiving/people pleasing. Where does an honorable intention or genetic inheritance, become invasive and manipulative? Or does it?
We all know someone who is more than willing to help and help with anything, at any time, anywhere. Where do these intentions come from?
I have spent more than a few waking hours, and some sleeping hours devoted to this conundrum. By profession, I am a caregiver and healer (read: nurse) and as such have been trained in the fine art of assessing, questioning and providing resources for answers or solutions. Nothing wrong with that.That is exactly what most people would want their nurse to do.
I'm not so sure now, that friends and family appreciate the same intensity or invasion. I think that some of the nature involved with caregiving is actually inherited. My mother was a warm, caring, sensitive individual, whose passion was children-she adored children, her own as well as everyone else's. She was happiest as a Sunday school teacher, Brownie troop leader, school chaperone and eventually as owner of her own nursery school.
We grew up with that model. Through all kinds of convoluted, interpersonal family dynamics, I eventually found myself in high school in the role of a supreme people-pleaser. I was the class clown and the first one to volunteer to do anything for my friends; I wanted everyone to like me. Nothing wrong with that.
Now I find myself as an adult, retired from my profession, having to learn how to take care of me and not fix everyone else. It has been gently pointed out on many occasions that I can best be of help by creating an active, attentive and receptive "listening" for those I love.
For, it is by creating that listening that others are provided with the opportunity to explore their own solutions to problems, by doing it out loud. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to work with the therapist of any kind; will realize that they don't provide solutions-they provide "a listening" and that we do most of the work and pay the money. (Now, how does that happen?) Well, very simply-that passive role of listening-that we all value; seems very difficult to do. It is much easier to become impatient/distracted -interrupt, put in our own two cents and see very clearly the solution to a problem. It may seem easier to see from a distance. And therein lies the rub. When we are in the middle of it, it isn't so easy to see.
Looking out kitchen window, it is easy to see why a youngster may be having trouble learning to ride a bicycle and it is painful to watch them fall down and get hurt. But common sense would dictate that the best way to learn to ride a bike is to ride the bike and not have someone tell you how to ride the bike. It's a tough lesson to learn, to be still and allow another to grow. So that's what I'll be working on -stillness and listening.


Wicked Thistle said...

Very nice. :-)

Moi: said...

wise words and ones i should be wise to heed myself

a constant struggle this management of the self and its relationship with others

but the work of life

trinity said...

interesting ...... not sure I see "caregiving/caretaking" and "people pleasing" in quite the same relationship - for myself at least .......having been a people pleaser for many years, I came to understand that a great deal of my "generosity" with time and resources was born of my own emotional needs and self absorption .... I now understand that true generosity happens when the I (and my needs) are removed from the equation ..... Doris knows that I have a great appreciation for members of the profession she practised for so many years ..... a big YES to observations re: listening and not constantly trying to "fix" in our private lives and relationships .... a big :-) for moi's "work of life" comment

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