Article by Wendy McCance
The hardest situations I have faced have been when I have had to step back instead of jumping in to help someone I love. What I mean by this is that when people face personal challenges, you can be supportive, but the work to resolve an issue can only come from the person facing the challenge.
I am the type of person who is nurturing. I fall under the personality type of a caregiver to those I love. My challenge is in trying to fix someone’s issues for them. I hate to see someone going through any type of personal pain and I want to fix it for them. The problem with this mentality is that I can’t fix someones problem. Only the person facing an issue can fix it on their own. I get it, but it’s like a knee-jerk reaction. I have to remind myself that the best way I can help is to stand back and let the person find their own strength.
I have been particularly challenged in this area when I see my husband or kids going through a rough time. I can listen to their frustrations and I can show them that I am there when they need me. It’s so hard to stay back and watch them struggle to get through whatever they are going through though.
Recently I listened to my husband as he talked about where he is in life. He was frustrated because he didn’t have a hobby like some of the people he knows. He blamed it on not having enough money. I thought about my own hobbies and thought that blaming his lack of a hobby on money was absurd. His view was that it was different for guys. Guys want toys. Expensive toys. Money was what was holding him back from the additional happiness he desired.
Immediately I went to a place of guilt. I am still building my business and a steady flow of extra cash is still a ways off. I felt guilt because he married a woman with three children and with four people to support, it takes more money to get by than if he was on his own. I felt it was because of me and the kids that he wasn’t able to feel the complete satisfaction he was after.
After my own pity party began to dissolve, I wanted to smack myself for absorbing his issue and trying to take over any blame. I had begun to go into fix it mode and my wheels were spinning trying to solve his problem. It finally dawned on me that his happiness wasn’t something I could magically fix. It had to come from him alone.
Sure, he might not have everything he dreams of owning, but we are living a decent life. We have all the necessities and the family is doing well. I am an active participant in supporting the family. I work full-time too. If he is looking for extra cash to blow on expensive toys, that is a dream that he is going to have to go after on his own.
I had a talk with my husband and explained that he was in charge of his happiness. If extra money was what he desired, if he felt that the lack of extra money was holding him up in life, then he would have to fix that problem. He could look for a better paying job or get a second job, but ultimately it was his problem to solve.
I need to mention that never once did he blame me for his frustration. He knows I am doing what I can to support the family and he has been extremely supportive of what I am going after. He has never acted as though the kids or I were a burden either. He takes good care of the family and loves us, and would quite frankly give us the world if he could.
My feelings of guilt were my own, brought on by me only. It’s just a place that I go to whenever I see someone I love struggle. It’s an issue that only I can fix for myself.
That being said, I have realized that I can be supportive of my husband’s feelings without taking them on myself. If I try to take over, not only am I causing myself unecessary worry, but I am also preventing my husband from working through his own issues.
Stepping back is the best way I can show my love and support while my husband figures out how to mend what he sees as a hole preventing him from feeling more complete. It really is the hardest thing to do when you care about a loved one’s feelings.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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