Are You Caring or Caretaking?By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 14, 2010
Are you sometimes giving and caring to another and then wonder why your caring isn't appreciated? Learn why!
Caring = giving to another from love, for the joy of it - as a free gift
Caretaking = giving to get love, giving with an agenda attached, giving yourself up
Even though the actions of caring and the actions of caretaking might look exactly the same, the intention behind each is totally different, so the energy of the actions is also completely different.
Sandy is a caretaker. She is constantly doing things for others - sometimes because they ask her to and other times because she believes that is what they want and expect. The problem is that Sandy often abandons herself to give to others, and then expects others to give back to her and fill the emptiness within her caused by her self-abandonment. She ignores her own feelings and uses giving to others as an addiction to avoid responsibility for herself. She uses her caretaking as a form of control to try to get others to like and value her, rather than learning to like and value herself.
While others may like what Sandy gives to them, they rarely give back to her in the way she hopes for, so Sandy generally ends up feeling invisible, unappreciated, disappointed and drained, and often angry as well.
The energy of Sandy's caretaking often doesn’t feel good to others, as they feel pulled on and obligated to give back.
Monica, on the other hand, has learned through her Inner Bonding work to connect with her personal source of spiritual Guidance, which enables her to define her own worth so that she isn't needy of others' attention and approval. She knows how to fill herself with love and to take 100% responsibility for her own feelings. Before giving to others, she checks in with herself to see if this is something she really wants to do, so that when she gives, it is for the joy of it. Her caring is a free gift - there are no strings attached. She has no expectations about how the other person "should" respond. She is truly giving and caring rather than caretaking.
The energy of Monica's giving and caring feels wonderful - a breath of fresh air that warms the heart and fills the soul.
While Sandy and Monica may do exactly the same thing - for example cook a lovely meal for their partner - the energy of it is totally different because the intent is totally different.
When a husband gives his wife flowers to get something - approval, sex, attention - his wife can feel the strings attached and would have rather not received the flowers. She may give him a half-smile, but inside she may be feeling shut down or resistant, since she feels the flowers are a form of control. There is no love in the act of giving flowers when the intent is to get something back.
When a husband gives his wife flowers because, on his way home from work, his heart fills with love for his wife and he wants to express it in a way that he knows she appreciates, his wife will love getting the flowers.
So, while the act of giving the flowers is exactly the same, the intent behind the gift is totally different. We cannot hide our intent, as it is betrayed in our energy. There is a world of difference between the energy of caretaking - of giving to get - and the energy of giving and caring for the joy of it.
This often creates significant confusion between two people in a relationship. When one partner is unconsciously giving with an agenda attached, and the other partner is unconsciously responding with some resistance, the giver may feel rejected and the receiver may feel shamed at his or her own lack of appreciation or responsiveness. Only when both people understand intent, and the huge difference between the intent to control vs. the intent to love, can they untangle the interaction.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."
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Focus on anyone you are angry at. Let yourself voice your anger out loud but not at the person. Now turn it around and let your inner child say the same thing to you, listening with openness and compassion. Whoever you are angry at can become your teacher for becoming aware of how you may be abandoning yourself.
By Dr. Margaret Paul