When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Therefore the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
Through the words contained in verse two, Lao Tzu instructs that in our efforts to explain what cannot be explained, the human experience can be a journey along a continuum of emotions. He shares that we feel joy because we have experienced sadness. The completeness that comes with knowing that you belong to someone can only be truly embraced when you have known the void of being alone.
Our belief systems define our experiences as good or bad, bitter or sweet, beautiful or ugly and so on. It is in this struggle to get a handle on something; to find an explanation for why things are the way they are that is the basis for dissatisfaction with one’s life. However, Loa Tzu goes on to write that there is an alternative to the dualistic battle that we create for ourselves. The option lies in the insight that the Universe is ever changing and that our assignment is not to rage against the tide of change but to flow with it. In reality, all is as it should be even if it is not obvious or easily understood.
Caregivers can find accepting this a challenge. We set up a dualistic continuum of our very own, fixed versus broken. After all, isn’t it our job to FIX things? Fixing things, turning negatives into positives is what we do best, right? Here is where we can get ourselves into trouble if we are not continuously in touch with our true motivation for caring and how being a caregiver can serve us.
It can really feel good to be needed by someone and to be able to meet that someone’s needs. It feeds our compassionate nature. It can give us a sense of purpose and competency. The caring can very subtly start to become about us. When things work out, that is, the desired outcome is the outcome achieved; we can delude ourselves into thinking that we have control or at least a strong influence over those results. It can be a bit addicting so we begin to give more, care more. Before we realize it, caring becomes a socially acceptable substitute for doing one’s own work, walking one’s path and addressing all our personal life lessons along the way.
Some of the dangers signs we tend to ignore include the inability to put our needs such as pursuing our own interests first. We deny the need for help when a lifeline is offered. We can find it challenging, even irritating, to seek or accept assistance from any resource for a respite citing any number of plausible reasons. We tend to allow our compassionate nature or work ethic to be used against us. Finding ourselves in the role of the go to person on a constant base is not always a complement. The added stress can deplete us of valuable energy and lead to resentment.
The common denominator for all of these behaviors is our tendency to make judgments and the need for control. It seems almost cruel to assign such labels to a person’s commitment to service. However, it is necessary to shed some light on this dark side of a one’s good nature. Caring too much enables us to write and tell our story in the context of anothers rather than let the meaning of our own life, scary as it may be, unfold. When we think we’ve been successful in fixing something, that feeling fills in some of the places in our personality where we are wanting and vulnerable.
Caring too much has a paradoxical effect on our life. You would think it would build relationships but, in reality, it ultimately causes us to become increasing isolated from others. Our propensity for judging begins to alienate us from friends and colleagues. The increasing need for control causes individuals to push-back and the frustration that this drives can become the foundation of mistrust and anger.
So where does the answer lie? It should be no surprise to discover that in all struggles with duality, the answer lies in the middle. The middle way gives us perspective and feedback. This is a great start to creating balance. The challenge is to blend compassion for others into your life and not allow that wonderful capacity to dominate and impede your ability to live your life fully.
Develop a personal spiritual practice that offers you quiet time. Not just free time to fill up with doing other things; but real quiet time that allows you to strengthen your ability to slowly access your intuitive knowledge and higher-self. The support and guidance you can gain will begin to transmute your need to cling to the duality of your emotions into an ability to peacefully coexist in the world without the need for judgment or conflict. Your ego will slowly let go of the need for the allusion of having control and relax into the reality that all is well and all are safe.
The answer truly is in the silence. Taking the time to put your own oxygen on first lets you come to know and embrace this truth. Moving away from the habit of defining your life in dualistic terms lets you step closer to understanding that developing a trilistic relationship between yourself, your life lessons, and that god-like nature inside each one of us provides us with the inner fortitude and skills to walk our own path, feel compassion for another and flow with life.