When we think about being there for people, it seems like a natural human response as long as it’s moderately convenient for us. When we think about being there for a loved one, inhibitions scurry out the door and we tend to drop our own worries for that person in need. Of course, we love them and want to make sure that they are safe. But what cost do we pay when we lose ourselves in the process? In other words, how do we make sure we are there for others without leaving ourselves behind?
This may relate to the more tender hearts out there who cannot help but extend themselves without so much as batting an eye. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on making sure that others shoes are tied, while forgetting to check that our own laces are intact? It could be that our happiness is weighted so heavily on others happiness-that even if we face plant in the process, we know that the relationship is secure.
“And every time I write, every time I open my eyes, I am cutting out parts of myself simply to hand them over to you.” -Anis Mojgani
Removing the most understanding parts of your being in order to hand them away, while simultaneously filling our gaps with pieces of loved ones. Being supportive of someone is to be truly absorbed in them. We care because we feel as though they are one with us, and we start to feel what they feel. It’s the reason that sons and daugthers spend all of their savings and time to make sure that their elderly parents receive the best care--or why parents sacrifice their own needs & sleep to ensure their children go to bed with full bellies and a glimpse of comfort. This topic is one that I think most everyone can relate to, whether or not it reminds you of an instance that took place in your childhood, teen years or has yet to come to fruition in your adult life.
Sometimes when this type of selflessness is done for someone outside of our family it is seen as naïve an over extension. Knowing where to draw the line becomes a bit fuzzy and can be confusing as to where we should cut the empathy down a few notches. But here is the kicker--what if we could be the support person, while continuing to love and support ourselves in the process.
We can attempt to do this by beginning to listen, and not just hear what people are saying in order to retort back with a response. We can become acclimated to how they share & how they convey themselves. Digest their body language, their vocal intensity, their mannerisms. Master the process of listening until you know whether to soak it up in silence or refract. We need to find the balance of becoming a sounding board, and when to integrate our own critique or advice in the conversation- without throwing all of our energy and emotions into it.
The idea of what it means to truly be there for someone has been exhausted by the physical presence and attention that we place on a matter. In reality, it could mean that “being there,” means making yourself absent, silent. It could mean a phone call where you shift into an auditory embrace or a sound of distraction to their worries.
Whatever it is, don’t let the fear of losing yourself keep you from finding a healthy way to be a support system for someone who needs it-especially if you know what it is like to go without.
Written By: Hayley Sutherland