What do I do when nothing seems to help my loved ones?

Many of us have the idea that to be the best partner or family member we can be, we should be doing all we can. We share our loved ones' struggles and anxieties, and at times it's hard to stay strong and provide all the help that we would like to. In many situations, though, the truth is there may not be much we can do. In so many situations people's struggles are often their own - coming to terms with being diagnosed with a serious illness, losing a job etc. We can offer emotional support, give practical assistance where we can - but often what's needed most is that we do less rather than more. This may leave us feeling disloyal - I should be doing more! If I do more, then maybe s/he won't be so unhappy, maybe I can make things easier. In doing so, we may find our own resources run dangerously low - without enough energy in the tank we may be unable to provide much of anything. So - what can we do instead? Paradoxically, looking after ourselves may be the most important thing we can do as a caring partner or parent. Making sure we get enough rest, social contact, emotional support for ourselves means that when we do return to supporting our loved ones we can do this simply and well. Offering emotional support is best done when we are less emotional ourselves - to be in this space, it's likely we need to have others in our friendship circle we can turn to. Knowing when to say 'no' when we are too tired or busy can be a loving thing to do - if I say 'no' now before I get too exhausted then I won't get sick and be unable to help for an extended period of time, for example. In short - being the best partner, parent or friend can include having the courage to do less, to do more where we can, and to have the wisdom to know which one is required at any given point in time!

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