Do Professional People who Care for Others Really Need a Support Person?
I hope your answer to that question is a great big “yes”! Sometimes professional caretaking people are so busy helping others all day at work (and often afterwards taking care of family at home) we don’t even consider we have need for any emotional support ourselves.
I remember having complaint sessions with peer friends. We would talk about how we did most of the workload, how we were underappreciated and even how some other colleagues were disrespectful to us. Afterwards, though, I really didn’t feel much better. Luckily the few work friends I trusted at least didn’t repeat what I said, as we were similar people with good boundaries. At least I hope they never divulged confidences. I would not recommend in general trusting someone you work with as often your personal conversations won’t stay confidential.
I suggest discussing your personal issues/feelings with a confidante who does not have any relationship with anyone at your job. I also recommend sharing your feelings about what happened when you are upset, not just tell the story. For example, rather than just going over and over the incident, often getting more upset with every retell, try to identify what negative beliefs were triggered by it. Some common misbeliefs include: Somehow you aren’t good enough, the world is not a safe place, or life is not fair.
While it might take someone who specializes in correcting false beliefs usually learned in childhood, to help deal with deeper issues, just sharing with a confidante that your feelings were hurt or that you felt disrespected, can help get your power back. i.e. it is not so much what happens to us, but how we perceive the behavior or situation. You can then gain support from that person who in addition to respectfully listening to you can remind you what a super friend you are. They might also say something validating like: “he really was acting like a jerk!”
Healthy friends might also be able to help you reframe a situation and even see your part in whatever is happening as well so you can adjust your behavior and become more proactive.
For example a person makes what I perceive as a sarcastic or demeaning remark, but I sigh and roll my eyes in response. I could more assertively say something like: “that sounded disapproving to me, but what did you mean?” Passive-aggressive people will tend to “back pedal”. They might not tell the truth, but often will back off if they are asked to explain themselves.
Supportive people are not just good listeners, they help us by letting us know we are good, worthy, etc. and at times can even assist us to look at situations with fresh eyes so we can adjust our responses to be more proactive.
Even great caretakers can’t deal with life’s challenges all alone, all the time!
Have a question for Helen? Ask or leave a comment below!