The Danger of Caring Too Much
Do You Care Too Much?
I have an issue with wanting to ‘help’ or ‘fix’ people. It’s probably why I do what I do for a living. I really care about the people in my life and in my practice. I’m good at helping people find their truth and live with more joy. But, I’ve had to learn how to care and offer assistance with detachment.
What I’ve learned is that each person has to go through their own process, on their own terms, and in their own time. Being an Aries who wants things done ‘RIGHT NOW!’, it’s taken some time for me to appreciate and respect another’s right to go at their own pace.
The myth of Aphrodite’s love for Adonis is a good example of how too much smothering can backfire and lead, not to ‘happily ever after,’ but to destruction and separation.
The myth of Adonis and Aphrodite is one of the great romantic legends of classical Greek mythology. This myth begins with Aphrodite recusing Adonis after his birth. His mother was turned into a Myrtle tree and is unable to care for him. (That’s a myth I’ll save for another blog.) Aphrodite takes Adonis to Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, to look after. Under Persephone’s care he grows into a handsome and virile young man.
When she realizes how handsome he is, Aphrodite now wants Adonis back as her lover! A heated argument ensues between Aphrodite and Persephone. Zeus has to intercede and solicits Adonis’ input. Adonis, now a young man with a young man’s drive, wants to spend his time with a beautiful lover rather than an adoring foster mother. Adonis and Aphrodite are allowed to spend eight months out of the year together.
She is so infatuated with this young stud that Aphrodite abandons all her responsibilities devoting all her time with Adonis. She even learns to hunt, which she has no real interest in, so she won’t be separated from Adonis for even one moment.
Finally Aphrodite can’t ignore her duties and must leave to attend some crisis. Before she leaves she warns Adonis not to attack any animal that shows no fear. He agrees, but Adonis is so relieved to be on his own and, feeling quite cocky, ignores the advice of the Goddess.
Adonis unwisely takes own the challenge of a wild boar (who some think is Ares, Aphrodite’s jilted lover). Soon Adonis is the hunted one. The boar attacks! Adonis is castrated in the battle and dies from loss of blood.
Aphrodite senses something is wrong and rushes to his side. She is too late to save Adonis, however. Stricken with grief she turns his blood into a field of anemones, small red flowers, in his memory.
Surprisingly, this ancient myth has a lot of relevance today! It is an allegory for how smothering love, excessive caring, and abandonment of our own interests to enmesh with another can result in the exact opposite of our good intentions. In wanting to spend all her time with Adonis, Aphrodite smothers him. Rather than achieving the connection and closeness that Aphrodite intended, Adonis rebels in a passive but aggressive way. This is revealed by his relief at being finally on his own and then ignoring Aphrodite’s sound advice. In his rebellion, Adonis creates his own demise. Aphrodite loses what she tried so hard to cling too.
This was the makings of a tragedy. How many of us have lost the object of our desire because we clung too tightly? How many of us have ended up smothering those we care for, rather than caring and loving with an open heart and open hand?
I hope you take away from this allegory what I have learned and begin to love and care with understanding and respect for another’s time, space and process … To care for and love others with detachment. Sometimes the greatest kindness you can show a loved one is to stand back and create space for them to make their own way, even when you think their choices are fraught with difficulties. Remember, you faced many challenges in your life and survived – so will they. The greatest gift of love is believing in their ability to make it!
If you find you are smothering your loved ones because you care to much or love too deeply, then give me a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation and find how you can love and care for the people in your life with healthy detachment. Call me TODAY! 415-819-8769 or email me.