I learned something, a long time ago, after years of trying to play the referee for my parents whenever they were fighting. I tried for so long to keep them together, trying to problem solve, inserting myself into their arguments, trying to calm everyone down. But something happened (the details elude me) and I learned that I need to let them work it out. That I was not doing them any favors by inserting myself between them. Or for that matter, myself.
There are so many hard lessons to learn and this is one of the most difficult, especially if you are a problem solver or have mediator tendencies. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is better to step back and stay out of it. Sometimes a problem is not yours to solve, or an argument is not yours to mediate. You will not be operating from a state of love when you step in, it will be a state of fear that drives you, way down deep below your conscious motives. It will only seem loving, like you care, on the surface. But deep down there is a fear of loss driving you.
Or if you are a problem solver, like me, you may come to believe or feel that you have to solve every problem that comes your way, and it almost becomes like an obligation. I can’t trace the fear roots right now. But I can tell it is not love, not if it feels like an obligation. Or maybe the thing driving you is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you successfully solve a problem. But that tracks down to a fear that you have little or no value. That fear I know all too well. If you do not have a lot, or any, self-confidence, or feel worthless, or maybe even feel powerless, solving a problem may help alleviate these feelings.
In any case the rule remain roughly the same as the ones for working through your feelings. You have to acknowledge, allow, feel what needs to be felt, then release and let go. You have to face the feelings and work them, and another side to this is that you have to be willing to let others face their feelings and work them. You must not interfere with another individual’s process, especially if you profess to care about them! You may be feeling real pain, watching them go through whatever it is they are going through, but the absolute best thing you can do is just be there for them. Just love them and support them, lend a listening ear or a warm embrace when it is asked for. If you are a truly good listener, you will be able to ask questions that support them and help them clarify things for themselves. This is invaluable!
Nothing in all creation has more valuable than your loving, supportive presence. Not trying to fix anything, not trying to diminish anything, not trying to change anything. You are allowing the feelings to be there for this other person, and you are allowing them to work through them. They might stumble and fall, you are there with a hand, but only if they ask for it. And if they get lost in their feelings, unable to work through them, and end up hurting themselves or others, it is not your fault. You have done all you can do, and done it the best way it can be done. If you have truly been there for them, loving and supporting them, allowing them to work through things without interfering, then you have done the best you could. There is nothing to feel guilty about. You will need to work through your own feelings around what happens, then forgive them and yourself as needed.
So not only is the best course of action is for you to work through your own feelings, acknowledging they are there, allowing them to be there without trying to change them, embracing them with acceptance and love, feeling them as long as you need to feel them, and only then releasing them and letting them go, you ALSO must be willing to let others do the same with their own feelings!
On top of that, you need to learn to care about yourself enough, to love and value yourself enough, that you stop inserting yourself into situations where you are essentially sacrificing some aspect of yourself. It could be that you are not honoring your own needs and instead are throwing yourself into providing the needs of others. Or it could be that you need space away from people, but you are inserting yourself in the middle of them.
It all boils down to disregarding your needs in some way. You need to learn to step back and give yourself what you need, first and foremost, before jumping in to help others. You may even see that the way in which you were going to help was not the best way to help at all. It did not honor the needs of those you wanted to help or your own. At best was a distraction, at worse an interference.
The good news is that as you learn to pause and take a step back before you do something, and as you learn to attend to your needs first, you will find yourself in a better position to see the best way to help, or if you even should help. You will gain a little clarity with a little distance. Operating from that place of clarity, after addressing your own needs, will make you more effective if you decide to step in and help. It will also allow you to help in ways that are loving an supportive instead of interfering.
It is time to put away the magnifying lens and referee’s whistle. Time to not “… just do something, stand there.” Take a minute, become aware of your own feelings and needs, then attend to these first. Fill up your cup. You can’t fill another’s cup of yours is empty. So fill it up, then take a step back to look at the situation. What is the best way you can show your love and support here? Is this something the person, or the people, need to work out for themselves, or among themselves? If so, leave it alone. Just be there for those you care about.
As far as working through feelings goes, I will have an ebook available soon which I will be giving away for free. It goes over a lot of what I have said these last few years. Look for a link soon!