ACT: Taking Hurt to Hope – Struggling with your own feelings when helping others
Struggling with your own avoidance when trying to help others
Many of us work with people. Many of us try and help people to develop and grow in different ways. You may be helping children learn difficult things in school or helping patients to learn how to cope with an illness. You may be a parent trying to help you own children to deal with the challenges of life. When we help others, we are often trying to get them to approach challenges openly and courageously rather than let their behaviors be steered by avoidance of fear. What happens when you, the helper, get caught up in your own fears triggered by this situation? Empathy means getting into the perspective of the one you are trying to help and that means you need to feel what they are feeling. It is natural to avoid difficult feelings and without even being aware of it you may be avoiding your own feelings. What happens with your connection with the person you are trying to help when you avoid what you are feeling. Today’s program is about this issue and hopefully will give you some insight and ways of dealing with this problem.
Remember that ACT has three components: 1) Opening up which in this case would be opening up to your own reactions as you work with people. Different people elicit very different types of reactions in you. 2) becoming aware, which in this case might be becoming concious of your own psychological content, ie your own thoughts and feelings and physical reactions, and the you who is watcing them and 3) taking action in ways that matter to you which in this case might be continuing to be present with the human being you are trying to help together with your own reactions rather than shutting down to avoid your own discomfort.