Focusing Tip #685 – “My aging mother needs me, and I resent her…”
How do we find the balance between being there for another person, and giving care to ourselves? Read on…
A Reader writes:
My question relates to inner criticism: when I feel that I should take care of someone in need in my close circle, but doing it also involves internal difficulty, is that “should” a manifestation of internal criticism?
For example, when my aging mother needs caring related to health issues, or even when she just needs company, I always feel that I must do it because she is old and widowed and in need – no matter how much I resent being around her these days (as I’m finally starting to deal with a very uneasy childhood, and I need the distance from my mother in order to be able to sense inside me and start to be more loyal to myself).
So I have a kind of conflict between a moral part, and a needing part.
Yes, a judgmental part of us thinks it has to take over and tell us what we “should” do. As if we would not be able to make moral choices without it!
The problem is that when we are caught up in the “I’m doing it because I have to” pattern, it’s really hard to feel our own choice to be there, doing something we don’t necessarily enjoy — because it’s right. “Right” meaning “in accord with our own values.”
Here’s my suggestion:
- Say Hello to the inner critic who is telling you that you have to take care of your mother, and ask it what it is worried about. What it fears, what it doesn’t want. Just listen to it until it feels you’ve understood it.
- Take some time to get in touch with what you really want, what you value, what kind of a person you want to be. That will probably include being there for other people, and also giving yourself the space you need. You — not a part of you — can be aware that your mother needs you, and that you want to be there for her to some extent. (Maybe not as much as she would like!) AND you can be there for yourself, for your need for greater distance from your mother right now so you can sense how you feel and be loyal to yourself. Of course.
- Give loving company to any part of you that needs it, including the part of you that resents your mother for needing you. There is more there… that will reveal itself when you listen.
- Choose to act from your whole Self, as Self-in-Presence, not from your parts. We can’t always do this — I know I can’t! — but we can keep on renewing our commitment to doing it.
Remember: When you have parts in conflict, the solution is not to choose one of them. It’s not a part of you that should be making your decisions. It’s you… the whole You.