Though composed of the same two words, taking care and caretaking are vastly different in practice. Taking care is healthy caregiving -- whether for children, spouses, friends, or parents -- that includes drawing appropriate boundaries, taking your own needs into consideration and knowing when to say no. Caretaking, on the other hand, is about rescuing constantly placing others' needs before your own and taking inappropriate responsibity for others emotions and actions.
The difference is in the intention: Are you in service (taking care) or is there a payoff (caretaking)? Payoffs are usually subtle. Caretaking may help you relieve guilt, feel better about yourself, calm your anxiety in the short term, or get attention or validation. But there is a cost to caretaking, as well: Caretaking can result in resentments, emotional and physical depletion, and/or feeling disconnected from your inner self. Complete this questionnaire by answering true or false to discover how much caretaking you do.
- I feel safer when giving rather than receiving.
- I am "on call" to friends with problems at any hour of the day or night.
- I'm great at being nurturing and compassionate with others, but not so great at giving it to myself.
- I feel responsible for others' thoughts, feelings, behaviors, problems, choices, well-being, health and destiny.
- It's more important to me to please other people than to please myself.
- I hate to see others feeling sad or angry or jealous; I try to fix the situation so that they don't feel bad any more.
- I prefer to focus on the needs of others; if I focus on my own emotions and needs, I feel selfish and afraid that the other person won't want to be around me.
- I take care of other people by fixing their flaws for them. I just want to help them be the best they can be.
- I feel unappreciated much of the time. I give and give and give, and no one ever notices or gives anything back.
- I feel controlled by the needs of others, yet my needs are never met.
- I often give unsolicited advice. I really want to help others see the light.
- I give away my energy to others in order to be loved and accepted.
- I grow resentful when others are not willing to "give" like I do.
- I see other people as the source of my problems.
- I don't really know what I need and want--but I always know what other people need, want, and should do.
- I don't wait to be asked--if I see that someone needs me, I just jump right in and help.
- I'm often exhausted from taking care of everyone around me.
- I've always been the Giver in my relationships.
It can be hard to differentiate between helping that truly helps and helping that actually harms. You may find that detaching with love is the most helpful approach. You can still love people without needing to fix them. If you have questions about caretaking or any other matter, please do not hesitate to call me at 619 9906203. I offer complimentary phone consultations and welcome the opportunity to speak with you about my individual counseling services and couples counseling services in San Diego.
Test Your Emotional Intelligence
What is your current emotional intelligence skill level? Most of us have relationship problems at times with co-workers, acquaintances, friends, relatives, or other people we care about. Your emotional intelligence is your set of key relationship skills that help you establish strong relationships and deal with relationship problems. Find your emotional intelligence skill level by answering “true” or “false” to the questions in this quick relationship quiz.
- I hold eye contact with the person to whom I’m speaking.
- I am comfortable with pauses when others are experiencing emotion.
- I sense when someone feels troubled before being told.
- I am comfortable with my feelings of sadness, joy, anger, and fear.
- I pay attention to my emotions when making decisions.
- I have no problem expressing my emotions to others.
- I can reduce my stress to a comfortable level.
- I enjoy laughing, playing, or kidding around.
- I don’t feel threatened by disagreements
- When others are speaking, I listen to them rather than formulating my reply.
Answering “true” to most of these questions indicates that you already have a good grasp on the skills that will strengthen your relationships and help you avoid relationship problems. But don’t worry if most of your answers were “false.” By learning about emotional intelligence, you can start to raise your emotional intelligence abilities. You will learn the key skills you can use to improve your current relationships, and to forge strong new ones—both in your personal life and the workplace. If you have questions about whether you or important others may benefit from counseling to increase emotional intelligence, I encourage you to call me.