"Care is love in action," HeartMath Institute founder Doc Childre once said. The capacity to care in human beings and other living creatures is an expression of love that is marvelous to behold.
HMI has cautioned for many years about the importance of balancing the care we feel or experience for family, friends and others in our lives, at the workplace and in issues related to our communities and the world.
You may wonder why we even need to balance our care: After all, isn"t caring as boundless as our capacity to feel it? That is true for many people, but it is not unusual for most of us to take our caring to excess from time to time.
When the care we give to a sick relative, a friend going through a rough patch or a cause dear to the heart causes anxiety, guilt, anger or a feeling of being drained, these are warning signs of overcare. It is quite common for any of us to occasionally overidentify and overattach ourselves to the object of our caring, especially if it involves someone we love.
"The draining cycle begins as we over identify with a situation, an issue, or a person we care about," the HeartMath book Understanding Care explains. "In other words, we identify too much. We begin to overcare and want to see things go a certain way. We get overattached to how we want things to turn out. As a result, we"re less able to let go and we become obsessive."
It"s important to check this draining emotion if it begins to overshadow our caring so it doesn"t adversely affect other areas of our lives. "Curiously enough, when overcare exists in one area, it usually results in a lack of care in another area," Understanding Care notes. "It"s like squeezing a balloon at one end so that it pops out at the other end. This lack of balance in care is causing much of the increased stress and burnout we see in individuals and society today."
What should you do?
Those who feel and offer genuine, balanced care will always be OK, so by all means never stop caring, for it is one of the great joys and rewards of life. A measure of balance is wise, however, as we seek to comfort another, promote our causes or advance in our relationships.
Should you find that you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of overcare, the HeartMath Cut-Thru® Technique can help. This technique is ideal for cutting through overcare, overidentification and overattachment and reducing the resulting stress. It can help you balance quickly and get back on a track of genuine caring.
Here is a brief description of the Cut-Thru Technique†:
Step 1. Be aware of how you feel about the issue at hand.
Step 2. Center yourself by breathing awhile in through the heart or chest area. Breathe love and appreciation through this area for 30 seconds or longer to help anchor your attention there.
Step 3. Assume objectivity about the feeling or issue, as if it were someone else"s problem.
Step 4. Rest in this state of objectivity/neutrality in your rational, mature heart.
Step 5. Soak and relax any disturbed or perplexing feelings in the compassion of your heart. Dissolve the significance of the issue a little at a time. Remember it"s not the problem that causes energy drain as much as the stored significance you have assigned to it.
Step 6. After dissolving as much significance as you can, sincerely ask from your deep heart for appropriate guidance or insight. If you don"t get an answer, find something to appreciate for a while.
Repeat these steps as needed. Some issues take more heart soak time to mature into new understanding and release.
† Adapted from Understanding Care. Click here for a complete description of the Cut-Thru® and to learn more about care vs. overcare.