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Helping Without Hurting Yourself or the Care Receiver
Many a needy person has traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care. Many of those who reach out with a helping hand, get burned or burned-out. Where’s the balance? What’s the right thing to do?
Some in need feel shunned and no one seems to notice. While this may be true in a lot of cases, it also may speak loudly that many don’t know how to help you. So they do nothing. On the other hand, others do too much. Yes, it’s possible. The caregiver may become exhausted. The care receiver becomes ultra-dependent. What’s a helper supposed to do? Rare are the absolutes, but here is a suggestion.
Set boundaries. Drs. Cloud and Townsend suggest that you, the individual, must “figure out what it is that you are getting for your lack of boundaries and what you stand to lose by setting boundaries” (Cloud and Townsend, p. 246). They suggest that you decide “if you are willing to risk loss. You must decide if you are willing to enforce the consequences before you set the boundaries” (Cloud and Townsend, p. 249).
It is easier to be pro-active than to clean up the mess after the fact. Setting boundaries is not a simple task, but a necessary one. It’s okay to say no. Dr. Hereford says, “Identify the actions and behaviors that you find unacceptable. Let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way” (Hereford).
It is good to set boundaries. It is okay to say no. First recognize your own feelings. Know when your person has been negated or transgressed. Voice it. Be direct. Take care of yourself and seek support when you need it.