Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Helping the Helper

Someone asked me the other day how he could pray for me-- as a counselor. He reiterated the request in such a way that I would understand he was asking how to pray for all counselors in general.

It didn't take me long to come up with a couple of things. I think they would apply to most in the counseling profession--though someone who has been at it longer than I have might have more to add. I had just two. Interestingly enough, they are two perspectives on the same big idea.

The first request?: That I remember that I cannot pick up the problems and pain of my clients. Oh I can empathize, I can present options, I can teach helpful skills, but I have to constantly remember that taking on and becoming burdened with their pain drastically affects my objectivity, creativity, and helpfulness. 

The second?: That I remember that I am not the fixer. Oh I can empathize, I can present options, I can teach helpful skills, I have objectivity and creativity to offer, but I cannot change or fix the heart--where the real healing takes place. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Emotional Vampires

Today one of my clients described her ex as an "emotional vampire." "He just sucked the life out of me until there was nothing left," she said.

That got me to thinking. That could be an accurate description of many of us. How many times are we sucking the life out of others? We are so concerned with our own wants, needs, desires, and comforts that we forget and ignore the wants, needs, desires and comforts of those around us. 

We demand, coerce, manipulate, intimidate, threaten, whine--whatever it takes to get what we want--without a thought about the damage we might be inflicting on those around us. Whatever makes us feel uncomfortable--whether situational things beyond our control or consequences of our choices--it all gets thrown down because we are unwilling to own it and deal with it ourselves. We throw it down and expect someone else to pick it up, deal with it, and make us feel better. In the process we are hurting ourselves and hurting those around us. Often we inflict the most damage on those closest to us--spouses, children. 

Own your own stuff. Acknowledge it. Deal with it. Find whatever information you need. Make whatever changes are required. You're the only one who can! Once you deal with your own stuff, you have the ability to look around and see hurting people who could use your help, your encouragement, your support as they deal with hard things in their lives. 

That doesn't mean you allow them to become an emotional vampire to you--they need to deal with their own stuff just as you do. It simply means that you are no longer damaging people around you with your emotional demands and know how to point them towards healing and hope.

Be a life GIVER instead of an emotional vampire.