One of the aspects of my personality that I like (most of the time) is that I like to take care of people. The caregiver part of me is often concerned with the comfort and well-being of others. This can be a good thing, but I have to remember sometimes that just because someone is uncomfortable, it does not mean it is my job to intervene. Sometimes a better thing to do is to let people try to solve their problem(s) themselves before I offer assistance.
I remember a story I read about a child watching a butterfly trying to free itself from a cocoon. The child watched the butterfly struggle and struggle without making much progress. Thinking the kind thing to do was to help the butterfly, the child used scissors to cut the cocoon away from the butterfly and then watched as the butterfly emerged with a swollen body and small shriveled wings. The child waited for the butterfly to stretch its wings out and fly away. Unfortunately, the butterfly did not fly away. Because the struggle to get out of the small cocoon is how the butterfly pushes the fluid from its body into its wings, the child’s assistance didn’t help the butterfly; in fact it hurt it and destined it to a life of crawling on the ground with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
By stepping in too soon to offer assistance, we may sometimes be preventing the recipient of our help from learning a much-needed life lesson. I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t intervene if someone is in imminent danger of physical harm. Falling off a cliff or burning a hand on a hot stove is not a life lesson anyone will benefit from. Sometimes, though, the best help we can give someone is to step back and allow him or her to discover a solution.
Keep in mind also that when we are constantly focusing on fixing other peoples’ problems and concerning ourselves with their comfort, we often neglect our own. If we fail to take care of ourselves, we are no good to ourselves or anyone else. We can’t charge someone else’s battery when our own is completely drained. Sometimes we do need to focus on ourselves and our needs and wants. It’s completely OK to take time to do something that calms your soul and makes you happy. By doing this, your battery gets the charge it needs to perhaps provide a small spark for someone else when the time is right.