When people no longer fear force
They bring about greater force
Do not limit their place
Do not reject their livelihood
Because the ruler does not reject them
Therefore they do not reject the ruler
Therefore the sages:
Know themselves but do not glorify themselves
Respect themselves but do not praise themselves
Thus they discard that and take this
In this prose Lao Tzu encourage the caregiver to resist the temptation to be the person everyone goes to and depends upon. I’m sure the gut reaction to this advice is, easier said than done; but it is important to understand this cautionary message. Your reliable availability could ultimately be your undoing.
It is not that the recipient of your generous gift of time and energy isn’t grateful. It’s that if boundaries are not set and maintained dependency could develop. That sense of dependency could breed contempt in the person you are caring for and sow the seeds of resentment within you as well.
You must focus on remaining mindful that for a relationship to work each should carry their fair share. The key phrase here is fair share; that does not necessarily mean equal share. Resist jumping in to do it all because you are so willing to help, you are capable or you believe it is just easier if you do it. Instead encourage the recipient of your caring to remain as functional and as independent as possible so that their self- esteem and dignity remain intact. This may require that at times, you care in a subtle manner; dissolved into the background or from afar.
Keep in mind the wisdom shared by poet Robert Frost, good fences make good neighbors. Healthy boundaries are vital for a balanced life. Healthy boundaries offer the person cared for privacy and time to work through any emotional and psychological issues associated with needing to be cared for. They also serve to help that individual feel less burdensome. Healthy boundaries provide space and offer the caregiver an opportunity to maintain patience and to breathe. This is exactly what is needed to maintain a balanced relationship, keep your well (energy) full and your compassionate heart appropriately available.