She reached out her hand. Not sure if he would understand, not sure if she would be accepted, not sure if he knew what she wanted, but she offered it nonetheless. All the conversations had been had. She just offered this, herself, a connection, a bridge between two people. A hope for some sort of silent recognition. This, yes this, was all that was needed. He didn’t need to fix anything, or change something, or find the right words to say. He just needed to take her hand, and let her know he understood.

To those of us who have often taken up the role of the Fixer, or the Rescuer, know this: your loved one isn’t sharing their pain so you can be a hero. They’re not sharing it because they need you to take away their pain. They’re sharing because it feels lighter when someone sees them, when someone acknowledges, Yes. I know this hurts for you. I’m sorry you’re hurting. What can I do?

When you forget to ask what you can do, and sit with your own need to rescue, instead of recognising their need to be seen and heard, to have someone tell them it’s OK to feel how they feel, what they hear is this: “You’re feelings are bad. I can’t handle you being sad. It makes me too uncomfortable so you have to stop. I feel impotent unless I have an active role, so I’m going to follow my own agenda to do what I think I need to do to fix this. It doesn’t matter what you need. My needs are the most important. I’m not listening to you.” I know you don’t mean this, but this is what they hear. You don’t need to rescue or be a hero, you need to give her what she’s missing – compassion, and an allowance to take up space, however she feels. Give her back the control she feels she has lost in the midst of her pain.

If this resonates, or you want to understand more about how this all looks in practice, let’s chat about how we can work together – I offer 121 coaching online and am taking on new clients now

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