Addictions Therapist and Founder of Love With Boundaries, Candace Plattor, explains what you can do to help your loved one who is feeling overwhelmed at work, all through the power of self-respect and self-care.
When your loved one is overwhelmed from work, your first thought may be: “What can I do to make things better?”
What if you try considering something different – that might shift things even more quickly. What if you started with this thought instead: “How do I help myself, first?”
When people hear that, it can sound like we’re encouraging them to be selfish or mean. But that’s not what we’re suggesting at all – keep in mind that self-care does not equal selfish!
Putting yourself first is actually a basic foundation of developing self-respect, and moving forward on the path of kindness toward others. Yes, it may seem to be counter-intuitive to think of helping yourself first, but that’s exactly the best place to start – for you, for your loved one, and your family.
When you do put yourself first, it’s very normal to initially feel like you’re abandoning your commitment to care about your loved one. But this is actually how you can protect yourself from sliding down that dangerous and slippery slope of enabling.
Of course, we naturally want to emotionally support our loved ones, especially when they are struggling. We do believe in and agree with that – until that support goes to the extreme and turns into destructive enabling!
The stress people experience overwhelm from is often from far more than “just work.” Overwhelm accumulates from all the pressures of life – combined with work. And this stress can be contagious. When we’re with someone experiencing distress, our natural empathy mirrors their tension – making it easy to go into enabling. We may want the other person to feel better – and fast! – so that we can feel better too. But this is not healthy.
Addictive Behaviours are NOT the Answer
Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviours provide the illusion of a solution, while actually making the problem worse.
While a loved one can easily turn to addiction to try to help themselves de-stress and feel better, it’s important to remember that addiction’s promised solution of relief is only temporary – and then negative consequences inevitably appear. Especially problematic are socially approved but destructive behaviours such as workaholism, gambling, gaming, excessive social media, and other addictive activities.
So, how do you cope?
A good starting point is to see if you’re doing any enabling behaviours. This is also the best choice you can make for yourself. Listen to your loved one and let them know you care about them. Encourage them to find solutions that are a fit for them, for the stress they are feeling, without trying to tell them what you think they “should” do.
Three Personal Power Principles you can use are:
Learn the difference between helping and enabling
Enabling behaviours keep addictive behaviours going. For example, if you try to find your overwhelmed loved one’s solutions for them, they will not truly resolve this issue for themselves. Instead, use helping behaviours such as listening and being supportive. This will assist them to find their own answers to the situation they find themselves in – and continue to create more positive experiences in your relationship.
Make a list of your most common enabling habits, and consider how you can change these into helping habits
As you begin to practice better choices for yourself, your loved one will start to feel less overwhelmed – and they will thank you for it!
Make time to be with yourself
Upon awakening in the morning, try sitting quietly for a few minutes, thinking about the day ahead. How would you like your day to go – what actions or attitudes would help you achieve that? As well, before you go to sleep at night, you can review your day and congratulate yourself on your progress in making healthier choices – with your loved one and in other areas of your life.
Remember to practice compassion for yourself while you do this, and be sure to pat yourself on the back as you learn and practice new, more beneficial behaviours. Perhaps your overwhelmed loved one can begin to spend some quiet time alone too, as you role model this new way of being. You both may find that simply doing this could diminish that sense of overwhelm quite substantially!
The REAL solution? Self-respect and Self-care
This is a great example of “simple, but not easy.” Learning how to do this for yourself takes practice, and it will be time well spent. The good news is that each thing you learn and practice adds to skills you already have. Even while you’re helping your overwhelmed loved one, it can be valuable to think about learning how you’re investing in your best life – and enjoying the many pay-offs you get from that ongoing investment.
About Candace Plattor, Addictions Therapist and Founder of Love With Boundaries
Candace Plattor is an Addictions Therapist in private practice and specialises in working with the family, and other loved ones, of people who are struggling with addiction, in her unique and signature ‘Family Addiction Counselling and Therapy Program’.
As a former opioid addict (34 years clean and sober now), Candace has learned that overcoming addiction is a family condition: everyone in the family is affected by addiction and everyone needs to heal. For more than three decades she has been helping both addicts and their loved ones understand their dysfunctional behaviours and make healthier life choices.
The results Candace achieves have been astounding: addicts stop using and families regain their lives from the ravages of addiction.
Not only has her success led to a waiting list of clients but she is a sought after leader in the field of addictions. As the developer of the ‘Love With Boundaries Family Addiction Counselling and Therapy’ method, Candace now works with her team of top counsellors and coaches, helping both the families and their addicts break the devastating cycle of addiction for good.
About Love With Boundaries
Love With Boundaries offers family addiction counselling and therapy – helping families come out of the pain and suffering of addiction forever. This is accomplished by guiding families on how to love with boundaries and how to stop enabling their addict so that the addict may choose to recover from addiction.