Care vs. Overcare

X03G4f5Relationships are an interesting balancing act. Between any two people, there’s a dynamic exchange at play. We give, we receive, we interpret meaning, we push each other (hopefully into growth), and ultimately we learn more about ourselves in the process. The best relationships I’ve been in are those with a mutual level of care and respect.

Yet care can sometimes be a tricky thing with the people we love. When we care deeply, we can often go into worry for others when we feel they should be living a certain way. If you have ever worried about another, you might know that that worry can devolve into resentment. Once we are in resentment, we exit emotional safety and head toward rocky terrain.

Why are we brought into overcare?

  • Early developmental learning–family dynamics program us from an early age how to survive and navigate relationships
  • Lack of boundaries–we have a hard time distinguishing between ourselves and the people we love most
  • Distraction–it is sometimes easier to look at another than to take ownership of our own lives or our own part in things
  • Addiction–the highs and lows of overcare in relationships can hook into us emotionally, creating habit patterns that are hard to notice and break

What does overcare look like?

  • Control–there is a desire to control another person, the choices he/she makes, or what the outcome could be
  • Enmeshment–we take on another’s problems as our own, we sometimes become more invested in someone’s life than they are
  • Anxiety–we fear for the future, we worry about things big and small
  • Denial–we are unaware or we minimize the impact we have on others due to caring too much, we deny the emotional toll such relationship dynamics take on us
  • Fixing–we believe that if we could just fix this problem or this person, that we would be restored to happiness

When we are in this place of overcare, self-respect and respect for others withers. Care is the place we need to be in order for relationships to thrive.

What care looks like:

  • Healthy boundaries–we understand our own limits
  • We don’t minimize what our relationship needs are
  • Our self-care comes first–we place our proverbial oxygen mask on first before undertaking in the help of others
  • We are willing to walk away from people and activities that cause us harm
  • We tell the truth to each other
  • We hear
  • We validate
  • We accept others’ boundaries
  • Our focus is on solutions
  • We trust in others to do their part
  • It is safe to be vulnerable

Care is a harmonious balance of love for self and love for the other.  We know we’re in a place of caring when we can relax into ourselves and be with the other. What steps can you take to find your way there?


1 thoughts on “Care vs. Overcare

  1. Julia says:

    Thanks, Rebekah. Great message for us nurses. As the 3 stooges would say, “Hey, I resemble that remark.”

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