It’s quite the irony. We are told to just stop worrying about things. About the people we love, and just “live.” But for many people this just sounds unrealistic and uncaring. Because if you are a kind, compassionate person, you want good things for them. You want them to be happy. To be healthy. Maybe you want to be able to see them more. To not have to worry about them. For parents this is extra hard because we are inherently responsible for them, at least until they become adults. We want to be available, to help when necessary and to nurture what they need.
However, even when they are very young, we can take this a bit too far, and being doing what is called “caretaking”, which means we do for them what they should be able to do for themselves. This controlling behavior is essentially rescuing them because we are trying to prevent them from having any negative consequences. This is anything but helpful as it gives the unspoken message that they can’t figure it out on their own, learn their lessons and forge values from the experiences.
So, what to do? Well, we can learn to create balance between caring and overdoing it, by first admitting to ourselves what outcome(s) we are secretly trying to control…someone’s thinking, behavior, or choices. Then we separate out our feelings from whatever is going on for the other person. “That’s about them, now what’s about me?” is a phrase I often use with clients who are working on this. We can honor our feelings of fear, sadness, or disappointment, then decide what ways we can detach with compassion so that we are not controlling.
As you can see, letting go doesn’t come easy sometimes. It takes honesty with self and mindfulness about overstepping. When we can accomplish this, we slowly find more peace, and our loved ones actually feel closer to us, because they can.