Q: I am getting panic attacks—little ones—but I was wondering if there is such a book out there, or if you have any kind of list of ethics. I am trying to do what’s right. I am picking up on my husband’s issues, trying to get him to see his doctor—he needs to get checked. Was I wrong to do so? How do we know where the line is drawn to help our loved ones? I know I cannot prescribe, diagnose, nor tell of an illness or death, right? What, if anything, am I missing?
A: Wow, no wonder you’re getting panic attacks, picking up on your husband’s “stuff.” It appears to me that we are going through a unique time, energetically, and the main advice appears to be “don’t take on anyone else’s problems.”
Why? Because we’re all walking on a rocky road right now, and if we’re looking and leaning over, trying to take care of someone else, we’re going to crash.
So, primary advice is this: take care of yourself first, then you can figure out what to do to best help others without taking any of their power away from them.
A list of ethics? Interesting concept. I usually steer away from any kind of absolute truths, because we all have them, so yours would be different than mine, but here are some things I’ve learned over the past years of doing my work.
1. Do not impose your opinions onto anyone else, nor expect that they should take your advice. They have their own paths and their own lives, and are responsible for their actions, decisions, and choices. Period.
2. Do not take responsibility for anyone else. You are responsible for yourself, and yourself only. You can support, encourage and inspire, but you are not responsible if they are unhappy, or unhealthy, or angry. You can’t change the way someone else feels, or change the way they view the world.
3. If you feel strongly about something, first ask if the person you have information about wants to hear it. Then be sure to say, “This is what I believe, this is what I think, but you know yourself the best.” This is sort of like number 1.
4. If this is a constant problem, and the other person refuses to seek help, then to keep your sanity, you will probably need to find some way to detach from the situation, because your anxiety and fretting only adds kerosene to the fire.
By stepping back and saying, “I trust that you will figure out what to do,” you give the other person the opportunity to stand on their own two feet, to take full responsibility, and not blame or rely on you anymore (“if you’d only stop nagging me, maybe I’d do something”).
I have been out of town for the past 6 weeks, and my 21-year-old told me tonight that because I wasn’t here to “do things for him,” he’d gotten independent, and he liked it. I told him I wasn’t trying to enable him, or coddle him, I was just doing my best to take care of him, but it appears that I was overdoing it, and sort of crippling him so that he didn’t know, or didn’t really feel the need, to take total care of himself.
So I learned a big lesson in detachment, even if it was involuntary. I think we can keep learning how to best love others, and a lot of the time it doesn’t mean nagging at them, begging them to do something, or not do something, but stating your wants and needs, and leaving it at that.
If the situation remains too painful, then it’s up to you to make the decisions that will bring you peace of mind, whatever those choices may be.
When it comes to health issues, it can be very painful, because you want your husband with you for a long time, and his refusal to see a doctor may seem to you like he doesn’t love you, nor want to remain alive to be with you, but realize this may be stemming from a deep-seated feeling that he’s not worth taking care of, so no amount of encouragement from your end is going to make him love himself any more.
I say find the correct words to express how you’re feeling, tell him, then let it drop. You might try saying something like, “I love you so much, and I want to spend many more years with you, but I’m concerned about your health, and I really think you should go get checked out by a doctor. When you keep refusing, it feels to me that you don’t love yourself or me, and I feel sad. I really wish you’d go to a doctor, but it’s your decision. I won’t bring it up again, and I trust that you’ll be able to take care of yourself.”
Then continue to take good care of yourself, and be an inspiration to him in good self-care.
Beyond that? It’s up to him.
Harsh? Maybe, but ask yourself what other options do you have?
Continue to send him your love, and be there for him, but again, focus on yourself and what you can do to make your life happier and better.
Hopefully your actions will rub off on him, and he’ll take some action.
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