Tuesday, 11 October 2011


What do we mean when we say we care?
For me to care means to express in both a practical and emotional ways an understanding of what the other is going through. Perhaps the problem is that caring also means giving various levels of intimacy.

So many people are afraid of intimacy and love, afraid to be close to others, scared of really ‘being’ fully in the relationship. As a retired therapist I have seen people who hide their feelings about another person, experiencing anxiety at revealing their personal feelings. Withholding strokes, care and loving contact because there is the risk of ridicule or rejection. So many are afraid of attachment, of love, closeness and might experience anxiety in case of rejection, abandonment and loss.

I always say what is the worst thing that could happen if you are rejected? In truth nothing much accept maybe feeling a bit embarrassed or hurt. No one dies from that do they?

If you are afraid of attaching to another person, or afraid of being close to others it is because you are afraid of loss. You may have all kinds of hang-ups and anxieties about relationships with others, or you may lack confidence or have low self esteem, self worth and so on. So often this comes from some early negative experience which have influenced the way you see yourself in relationships with others. You may feel more confidence in some areas than others, for example work, education, social interactions generally but feel insecure in intimate relationships. You may be afraid of making commitment to another, scared of becoming too ‘dependant’ anxious they might leave you. You may feel a need to control many areas of your life in order to prevent yourself from losing control of the familiar structure. 

So caring for others means making loving gestures of care, anticipating the other persons needs, offering help without fear of rejection. It means you might have to feel some of the others pain. If you get too close to the person you are supporting you may have to experience loss.

It is important to recognise the difference aspects of caring, for example giving practical help is great, cups of tea, making a meal, visiting someone who is sick all is best given without having to be asked for. Caring for the others emotional wellbeing, well that takes a little more, listening and understanding and empathy are the gifts of loving care.

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