Care giving or care taking?

In the past, I was a compulsive care-taker when people were in trouble.  Because of this, I totally misunderstood a prayer that I now take huge strength and inspiration from.

It’s a very powerful prayer, often used in Step 11 of the Twelve Step process of recovery from addictive patterns.  It is by St-Fransis of Assisi, and is often known as ‘The Peace Prayer’.  It goes:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

Lord, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

For years, I struggled with this prayer, believing that is was saying that I shouldn’t be consoled, or understood, or loved, but instead should give these things to others.  When I was caught up in addictive eating habits, I tried to follow this interpretation, and ended up depleted and secretly resentful – way off balance.

The reason I love Internal Family Systems therapy is that it allows me to give care not just to other people, but to my own internal parts.  Through my journey of recovery using IFS as a powerful healing tool, I’ve learned experientially that I cannot effectively give care to others if my own inner parts need my care first.  I’ve learned that it is equally as valuable to bring my own inner parts peace and love when they are in ‘doubt, despair and darkness’, as it is to bring these to others when they are suffering.  In fact, for me, it is often essential to bring these qualities to myself first.

And I’ve learned that it isn’t hard to care for my own inner parts, the way they need to be cared for.  And it doesn’t take much time – I can even ‘be an instrument of peace’ on the go.

Send me a message if you’re curious about some simple ways you can make sure that you’re caring for your own internal parts effortlessly, naturally and with joy-bringing results.