As a transformational coach I often hear about upsetting events and distressing circumstances in the lives of my clients. Some of my friends wonder how I’m able to keep my distance emotionally when I hear these troubling stories. Through my own personal and spiritual journey, and my experience with 12-step programs, I was introduced to the concept which is called compassionate detachment.
Compassionate detachment is a mindset from which all of us can benefit when we exercise it in our relationships. It is a healthy way of relating to others which lets them know that you have a loving and caring concern for their predicament, while holding the belief that they have the inherent ability to deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues. Simultaneously you strive to maintain a sense of detachment about the outcome.
The important thing here is to stay detached so that you don’t step in and attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, or their issue for them. This doesn’t mean, however, that you care any less for them. Nor does it mean that they, and the outcome, aren’t important to you.
Too often, many of us out of genuine concern will jump in and attempt to ‘rescue’ a friend. We might do this by giving advice, money, shelter, trying to ‘fix’ their feelings, or interceding for them in some way. Though our intentions may be good, in the long run we are doing our friend a disservice. By jumping in to rescue, we can end up disempowering the person we are trying to help. How? By not giving them the time, space, and self-confidence they need to develop their own ability to take care of themselves.
In addition, when we are in the rescue mode we tend to be working on our own agenda – on what we think might be best for our friend… which might not be what is best in the long run. Or we might like the feeling we get from being ‘needed.’ It might make us feel important. That is not necessarily helping our friend, however. In the end we could end up encouraging a dependency on our help rather than supporting their self-reliance and independence.
Rather than jumping to fix a problem, try listening compassionately without offering advice, or trying to fix the situation. Offer caring words of sympathy and be ‘present’ with them as they share what may be troubling them deeply. Many times a person just needs to be heard. Allowing someone to feel truly heard can be the greatest gift that you can give a friend.
So often my clients come to their own solutions just by having a safe space in which they can talk through an issue. In reality, we all have the answers within ourselves; we just need to be given the space, time, and belief in ourselves so that we can find them.
If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!