The Perils of Overprotection

When life looks dangerous we protect ourselves. When it looks really dangerous we protect ourselves a lot. Thats a good thing. However, most of us don’t stop protecting ourselves when the danger is over. That’s not a good thing.

Have you been been dumped by a lover and been afraid to try again? Have you been misunderstood and refused ever to trust someone with your inner thoughts again? The solution to sadness and loss involves four things: 1) grieving your loss and receiving comfort, 2) finding hope, 3) finding safe people, and 4) taking baby steps.

1. Grieve your loss and receive comfort: It can be easy to isolate when we are hurt rather than acknowledge our sadness to ourselves and others. When losses occur (and even being turned down for a date can feel like a small loss) it is important to both comfort ourselves and receive the comfort of others. Self-soothing is an important skill and should be actively learned. Take the time to Google it and get help with this if you need it. Also critical is receiving comfort from others. If that doesn’t happen we sometimes carry sadness in our bodies for years, and we are made a bit more frozen by each accumulated loss. I have spoken about this elsewhere in this blog, but receiving is an active process that must be learned.

2. Find hope: Spirituality in life is critical. Whether it is through a story of hope repeated by a friend, reading books such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, or going to a healthy church service or 12-step meeting, we must find hope. Being in touch with what is good in life keeps us going when we want to quit.

3. Find safe people: As much as we need others in our lives, not every person out there is safe. More than one person has reached out for help only to be wounded by the person they trusted. Here’s where we overprotect. Though it’s important to know who NOT to trust, it’s equally important to know how to identify trustworthy people. There are lots of rules to learn–here are a few: Reveal yourself to those who will reciprocate. Watch how someone treats the server in a restaurant…they will treat you like that sooner or later. Look for kindness. Listen for honesty and patience. And above all, avoid those who are quick to judge.

4) Take baby steps: Though I had a roommate once who learned to ski by taking one lesson and heading straight for the expert slope, that is not a good idea for most of us. Take manageable risks with others. Scatter your friendship seeds widely. If you want one new friend, try to make five and see if one sticks.

Be skillful in your self-protection, but don’t overdo it. And if you need to, go to workshops in self-expression to learn to take enough risks to have a rich and satisfying life.

You deserve the best!

David

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