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Intention and Dedication instead of “I would if I could”

This post was written by Angela
on July 26, 2011 | Comments (2)

Watching someone you care about suffer through a painful struggle, whether physical or emotional, is a distressing place to be. The phrase, “If I could take your place I would” comes to mind and is a true expression of longing and love. Without the option of taking on suffering in someone’s place, we instead often create our own distress and are left feeling helpless on a whole other level. This brings to mind another phrase: “Misery loves company.”

I was recently in this situation and while I offered to help where I could, it felt like I was lifting grains of sand off of the enormous pile of boulders that was weighing this person down. Sadness, fear, and isolation all took root in me as I watched my loved one’s pain. Eventually I recognized that since I could not directly influence his situation, I needed to act with intention for myself in order to offer the change for him.

Instead of allowing this miserable fire to spread out of control, I acted to contain it. Since breathing was a physical issue of concern for him, I set an intention to breathe for him or act as an example for how to reach a healthy and deep breathe. To act this out, I dedicated a yoga session to him. Throughout I thought his name, pictured him mimicking my breathe, and imagined the strength and cleansing energy that my body held was his as well. By holding my love and hope for healing throughout, I equally benefited since this was the most powerful I have felt throughout a self-guided session in a long time. By believing these intentions become reality in some form, I was relieved through my actions and offering; I also was empowered by clearly defining that I had energy to offer, but I was not attempting to own or absorb the ailments or situation (as we so often try to do).

What do you do when you feel powerless to help someone else? What are your proactive solutions in these kinds of situations? I found solutions through yoga and creative visualization. Someone else might feel better lighting a candle and offering a prayer to bring light to someone’s darkness, as in By Candlelight. Still, for others the best answers might come from Hospital Stay Handbook in the form of becoming a patient advocate. Whatever your best path, I find that empowerment comes from knowledge, intention, and some form of action. Without these steps, all expressions of “would if I could” begin to feel false and allow that helplessness to bury us under the boulders, too.

Reader Comments

Written By Heather
on July 27th, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

I am currently going through a difficult time with my Aunt. She is in a very dark, lonely, desperate place and calls upon me for help that I just cannot give any more (whether she needs me to help move furniture that doesn’t really need to be moved, or whether it’s just to talk my ear off with negativity without me actually being a part of a conversation). I myself have been down that dark, horrible, dreadful road and whenever I spend too much time with her (I’m very empathetic) I feel myself begin to slip down that slope again. So I distance myself. Then…that leaves me feeling like I’m a horrible person because she’s always been there for me when I was younger. I feel like I should repay her by being there for her now but just can’t stomach it anymore. I feel guilty when I think how I don’t want to hear it. My husband, who doesn’t understand the desperation, feels that I’m an enabler. I understand his perspective, and yet…I don’t. I would like to hear how others deal with their “I would if I could” situations. Perhaps it will give me a better insight as to how I should handle mine.

Written By Angela
on July 27th, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

Heather, I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating circumstances. It sounds like working on setting clear boundaries would be helpful for you. A great book that demonstrates how to establish clear boundaries is “Biting Back” by Claudia Cunningham. She offers strategies for working through toxic relationships and beliefs that “drain your heart, mind, and spirit” which seems to be exactly what you are describing. I wish you balance and healing!

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