It is so tempting to try and save each other– whether in a romantic relationship, friendship, coaching relationship. When you care deeply for someone, and they lose site of themselves through an unhealthy relationship, depression, or addiction, etc. you want to help! And that is what true friends do, we help each other remember who we really are. But where is the line between healthy care and overextending yourself for your own reasons? As a coach and someone who desires personal and global transformation, I have to be aware of the shadow side of that desire–seeking to save others as a way of avoiding my own work, or craving to be the reason someone else experiences breakthrough. I believe everyone engaged in the personal growth and therapeutic fields need to be aware of this in their personal and professional relationships. It is natural for this shadow to exist, and not shameful. But it is has to be acknowledged so that it does not get control of our underlying motivations.
Here is a poem about these themes:
I wish I could break the torturing spell that’s on you–
say the perfect words
that would clear it all up,
help you see your reality
and take down this grimy, confusing filter
you see the world through.
The lies you believe–
about the struggle
about your worthlessness
about there being no hope–
I want to tear those slowly off of you like paper mache
and then hold your shivering soft body safe in my warmth.
If you’d let me
everything could change
and I’d feel so happy
and full of my own power and glory and wisdom
and it would be amazing
me saving you,
it really would.
But when I try and feed you my carefully crafted cure
you lash out at me
with your self-hatred
and I’m left in a pool of my own positive intentions
missing that rush of a breakthrough I crave.
So tempting to keep working harder–
refining my words
purifying my heart
designing a more elaborate and compelling exorcism
that would once and for all
transform you in an ecstatic moment of release.
But I’m done with that game–
here’s me wanting to love you
and be loved–
take it or leave it
it is not my job to save or fix you
mine is the only breakthrough I command.
In Shadow Work, we focus on allowing the shadow parts of us to have a safe space to act out and express themselves. If you are a coach or therapist, I recommend joining a group with me or others to explore the shadow part of you that needs to save others and feel heroic. It can be a fun and dramatic experience, where you can see these patterns and ultimately laugh at yourself and feel sympathy for that desire. Wanting to be a hero in someone’s life is certainly better than wanting to be a villain! But the truth is we don’t save anyone else. We only reflect back their own power and love and help facilitate their process. This is the true gift we offer our friends, loved ones, and clients.
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I am a coach, facilitator and program director in Denver, Colorado. I bring a high-performance mindset from 18 years leading in global corporations, startups, non-profits and Higher Ed. I’ve also honed skills in emotional intelligence and practical spirituality through training with ICF, Shadow Work®, Insights Discovery and motherhood. If you’re ready to do powerful inner work, and also get tangible results in your external environment, please follow my blog and reach out to talk about coaching!