The Path to True Compassion

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self-loveSometimes bad boundaries can disguise themselves as compassion.

I didn’t realize this until eight or nine years into therapy. I always thought I opened my arms for anyone and everyone who needed help because of my years training to be a nun, as my responsibility to “let peace begin with me,” the final refrain to “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” a favorite hymn we sang at St. Charles Borromeo Grade School.

Only in the safe place of therapy did I discover that much of my rescuing others had more to do with a fear of setting boundaries than with my generosity. Yes, I have a good heart and am extremely sensitive to the hurting people in this world. But I am also scared to death to say, “Stop. I’m sorry. I can’t help you.” Because every time I did that growing up, the emotional consequence was brutal. It hurt so much that it was much easier to give in to the needs to those demanding something, than to try to fight back for my own needs.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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3 Responses
  1. john

    Very interesting story about setting boundaries and high school anxiety. I was constantly in turmoil about who I was. So angry at everyone and took it out on myself when I played sports.

  2. I’m glad you are able to pull yourself and protect the rest of the group. For saying no and deleting the post, you have saved more people. It’s unfortunate about the blame game and the codependent scenario but you caught yourself. It’s difficult that’s the reason I refrain from staying too long in a group situation when I feel vulnerable. Keep on praying. I’ll keep you and your group in my prayers tonight.

  3. Mate, give it away. You have altruistic motives but this group is as toxic as all hell. How many days did I last? Maybe a week? You deserve better than all their shit.