Wholeness Healing Today

Caring Vs. Carrying

Do you care for people in a way that empowers them or do you carry their load? This has come up several times lately so I do believe it is worth addressing again. We usually call it co-dependency but I think it really begins as caring for someone and then mutates into taking over their responsibilities. And it especially seems to affect those of us who are in “helping” professions. And those who are nurturers at heart or by instinct.

When we care about someone, we want the best for him/her. And sometimes we try to move mountains to make that possible. But by doing so, we actually de-power them, How? Well, if we do something for someone that he/she can do himself, then the message is that he can’t do it, or can’t do it alone, so we have to help. Which may or may not be the case, but by jumping in and taking over, we refuse to allow them the dignity of trying. And then we have basically stolen away any power they could have gained from the experience.

Co-dependents, nurturers, helpers or anyone in the helping profession can easily move from caring about someone to taking over the carrying of that person’s load. If that happens, how can that person ever feel as if he/she is capable? By giving them the honor of trying, we also send the message that we feel they are capable, which is empowering. We give them the knowledge that we believe in their abilities, which often helps them believe more in themselves.

When we try carrying their load, we are actually exhibiting some fairly egotistical perception of ourselves also—that we know better or can do better or know more or are capable of doing more. Which may not be the case, as we are “only trying to help”. I am oft reminded of the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. By giving someone the skills and then allowing the opportunity to do the work, the person becomes empowered and strong with that ability. If we continue to do the work for him, he is enslaved forever.

If our purpose as caring people is to empower others, then it is extremely necessary to provide the opportunity, teach the skills, and then stand back and trust in the dignity of the person to rise to the task. That is when people are truly empowered and when they walk on their own, carrying their own load.

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  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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