Relationships are sometimes a tricky balancing act. Whether it be intimate relationships, friendships, family relationships, or work/business relationships it seems that there was never one specific guide we were given to making relationships work. Much of the time, we learned from our parents, and or caregivers by following their lead. Then, we learned from our peers, siblings and eventually our partners by trial and error. Many of us were taught to have manners, to treat people politely, to be nice. When we got older we finally probably realized that being nice got us further than being impolite or rude. We learned to be friendly, nice, smile, to be courteous, etc and so on, and then we got our needs met. Our needs for friendship, acceptance, ad even companionship or love. For some of us this came pretty naturally. And then some us even learned, or maybe it came naturally, to take it a step further to show we genuinely care about people by putting their needs in front of ours. Without even realizing it, many of us become caretakers.
A caretaker thus gives up a lot of themself in order to give to others (not to be confused with a caregiver.) Caretaker is also a common term used in terms of discussing an alcoholic or addicts family system. The caretaker is another word for enabler. It is the one who puts the alcoholics needs first, by engaging in any number of behaviors that allow the addicts behaviors to continue. For example, a caretaker may make excuses for the addicts bad behaviors, and are often more concerned with keeping up appearances, taking care of other's needs and doesn't take the time to take a look at their own life and needs.
I call it giving away your power. But, giving away your power does not have to involve an addict or an alcoholic. We can easily give away our power to a number of people. It's easy to give power away to someone who is intimidating, or demanding, IE a bully, someone who is self-absorbed, IE has narcissistic/histrionic quailites, or some who is critical towards us or puts us or others down. In a desire to be liked by this person, to get along and to be harmonious, a caretaker doesn't just stop at nice, but instead takes it a step further to try and "help" this individual, to try to make the situation more pleasant for this other person, or to try to please them or make them happy. Once this other person is sated, the caretaker can then also relax. Does this sound familiar? I call it giving away your power. I would like to say this is more common to women, but I've seen men do it too.
In 2012 I encourage everyone who has been giving their power away to hold onto their power.
How can you tell if you've been giving your power away to someone? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
1. Do you avoid talking about your dreams and aspirations with this person? If true, you may be giving your power away. You may feel this person doesn't support or approve of your dreams, your aspirations, so you've either shoved them under the rug or you've told yourself that he or she is right, those dreams are not important. In other words you have believed this other person is right. Instead of believing in your own truths, instead of acknowledging what you know to be right, you have instead given away your power.