Caring is Rescuing?

I was at what Landmark Worldwide calls the Advanced Course staying in Chicago. The big theme of this course is “Everybody Gets It.” They are referring to the transformation you experience in the Landmark Forum isn’t complete until EVERYBODY gets it.

They break us into groups to do activities and hold one another accountable. At one point I announced to the group that, “I just don’t really care about people.” I began to offer proof of how little I actually care about people when a tough Russian guy in our group looked me in the eye and said, “I think it’s the opposite.” I stat stunned for a moment, then teared up at having been found out by both him and myself. All the concern I felt for everyone that I had been hiding and denying started coming out. Everything felt different. The caring version of me experienced things vividly, mindfully, and gently. I was tempted on multiple occasions to slip back into uncaring where it was safe and easy. I could barely do anything without wanting to cry. I asked how I was supposed to teach my seminars like this, and the group leader suggested I could be the “Crying Trainer.”

As I suspected, it was impractical to go about life exposed and sensitive, so I climbed back into my shell.
The reason I haven’t married or had kids is also the opposite of what I say it is. In reality, I care so much and feel responsible for someone I care about to such an extreme that I will subjugate myself in exchange for their well-being all the time. I feel guilty doing what I want and feel like I have to cater to them 24/7. I play the martyr and then resent them for my sacrifice. I am then angry and surly, pushing away the very people I care so much about, leading them not to like me so I can then escape – or at least that’s the idea. It never really works that way.

It’s like somehow it is my responsibility to make sure everyone else is always okay. And if they aren’t, I am to make them happy in whatever way I can. I know this goes against the laws of human nature, but I have these inclinations and feel I constantly need to be the superhero.

As a trainer and coach, I have to fight these inclinations. You can’t do someone else’s push-ups for them. And sheltering people from their own lessons renders them helpless in the end. Perhaps tough love is tougher on the mentor than on the client.

Where are you letting people off the hook in your life and work? What might be the payoff for you?