You can’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. – Author Unknown
We’ve all heard the pre-flight instruction, “in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, air-masks will drop from the overhead compartment. You should put yours on first before helping others.” Intuitively we know this makes sense, and we probably even do it on airplanes when a crisis calls for it. So then why do we so often forget this very sentiment in so many other areas of our life?
Byron Katie, the self-help guru, often says “there are three types of business in this world, my business, your business, and God’s business, and who is living your life when you’re in someone else’s business?”
At the Marriage Recovery Center, we often see one partner spending all their energy trying to help the other become aware of their issues or limitations, get them educated about possible help, and even try to get them better.
Does this sound like you?
If so, you may want to consider that while you have become so hyper-focused on someone else and their process, you may very well have lost any meaningful connection with yourself.
“Do you still know you?” Are you even aware of yourself and your needs anymore? When was the last time you went for a walk to appreciate nature or sat alone to be with your breath? Loving a partner is not commandeering and steering their life for them. It is being a witness to them, walking with them supportively, and finally, not just sharing your truth, but living it yourself. “Are you obsessing over a diagnosis?” With a few relationship therapy videos and blog posts under your belt, are you busy trying to practice therapy without having any depth of understanding, objective perspective, or experience of what to do next? If you’ve already diagnosed them and are constantly reacting to what you see as “alcoholism”, or narcissism”, or as some other label, are you actually able to be open to them, and to recognize when they turn over new leaves and grow? Or, do you spend all of your time watching carefully for their next slip-up, abuse event, or undermining language to continue to confirm your ongoing diagnosis?
This is not to say you shouldn’t offer your help if your partner is specifically asking for your it – it is helpful to collect pertinent information, distill it for them, and share it lovingly, but be careful to not get fixated on the labels. “Can you offer grace to your partner?” Are you fully accepting your partner for who they are and where they are right now or are you anxiously waiting for better days and for a new and improved version of your partner to magically appear? This is not the same as accepting potentially abusive behavior without setting boundaries, something you should never do. But can you also, even though things are so difficult, fully accept the flawed human that is standing right in front of you?
Getting Some Clarity
It is for these very reasons and so many more that the Marriage Recovery Center exists to help you. We are here to support you and your family in your healing process, and to most importantly help you to:
- Reconnect with yourself so that you become whole again and do have something to give others when the time is right.
- Learn how to communicate your feelings, especially during times of conflict, which is really the only way our partners, family, and friends can ever really hear us.
- Get some honest perspective, not one clouded by the entirety of past events, so that you can move forward into a new possibility.
We can work with your spouse too if he or she is open and willing. But in the meantime, don’t you owe it to yourself to find the kind of peace and clarity that comes from your own willingness to be open, honest, and most importantly vulnerable, about what you want for yourself?
We offer a many programs and services that cater to individuals in need of a breakthrough. Call us in the office at 206.219.0145 or view our counseling programs page to learn more about your options.