It is undeniably important that we seek to practice empathy and kindness for others and their struggles, yet at what point does empathy become toxic, and kindness become inappropriate? On that note, we all want to make the people around us happy, but how do we know if we are really just people-pleasing?
With so much hate being thrown all around these days, and a world stuck in polar opposites, it can be extremely difficult to engage in productive conversations centered around solution. When we get right into solution, people are so caught up in their beliefs that they are afraid to listen, and we are then often immediately judged as being unkind, and lacking empathy for those who are struggling or suffering.
In turn, this leads me to the following questions: At what point does our empathy and compassion become a hindrance to the issue we are hoping to solve? And furthermore, how do we determine if our empathy and kindness is descending into the realm of people-pleasing or enabling?
It is so very important that we care about what others are going through, yet when it is harmful to ourselves, and when we are not keeping our personal well full, we cannot effectively be of service to anyone. I am also of the belief that if we are not open to dialogue intended to flush out if our actions are helpful or harmful, or if we find ourselves being wounded and defensive– to me, this is the first clue that I have gone astray from my intentions.
If we are taking the correct actions, do our own personal motives really even matter?
I have struggled with people-pleasing for my entire life, always living in fear that if I chose to say no to something, you would no longer like me. I lived under the misguided narrative that if I were to say no to you, you would ultimately be able to see that I was not worthy of your love. However, in truth, I was just unaware that when I chose to say yes to something when deep down I really wanted to say no, I was actually showing myself that I was unlovable.
Empathy reaches a point of toxicity when it begins to affect my personal health, when I hold you back from learning your lesson, and when I become a fixer or enabler. When I try to fix things for you, all I am doing in the long run is hurting you, as I am holding you back from experiencing your own journey in an attempt to boost and serve my own ego.
Empathy, kindness, and people-pleasing are all on display when I am giving advice to others– although in reality, who am I to know what is truly best for you? My job is not to tell you the correct action to take, but rather to help you listen to your own intuition, and guide you in ridding yourself of your own personal self-doubt. When I am doing my best work at my job, I serve less as an arbiter of truth, and more as a guide, supporter, and teacher.
How do you identify when you are engaging in people-pleasing? How do you decide when kindness is inappropriate? Finally, how do you know when your empathy is becoming toxic in nature?
This week, I welcome you to go on a journey with your own intuition. Ask yourself, if I am not afraid of judgement, how would I live my life, and what would my life be like if people loved me without any sort of expectation?
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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