Compassion: The Proper Mix of Care and Concern?

If you’re reading this blog post, your genuine care and concern for the welfare of others is the hallmark of your existence. But that’s only part of the equation, your care and concern alone will not produce results.

An easy trap

All too often a compassionate person’s desire to help others causes the person stress, anxiety, frustration, and, at times, a loss of confidence. Generally these outcomes can be traced to one thing…the compassionate person cares more than the person they’re trying to help.


Compassionate people often overlook the importance of the other person’s desires. It’s good that we care about others’ health and well-being, but we must consider their desires and their right to make their own choices.

Let’s approach this from a different angle. Are there things that you do that are not in your best interest? I don’t always act in mine. Now that we’ve acknowledged that we don’t always make good choices, the question is “How do we respond to others’ attempts to help us?” I tend to resist if it’s not what I want to do. I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager every dollar I have that it’s true for you as well.

Not only do we resist others’ help, we often resent it.The harder others press us to change, the more we resist. None of us likes being told to do. We especially don’t appreciate having others point out our shortcomings. Yet, that’s precisely what we do when we offer unsolicited advice. It doesn’t matter how good our intentions, we create resistance and possibly resentment when we don’t consider the other person’s desires.

Quitting is not failing

When you’ve attempted to help someone only to discover that they don’t want help, you need to stop trying. Not only do continued attempts create resistance and resentment in the other person, they’ll trigger in you frustration, anxiety, stress and potentially a loss of confidence. In other words, no one gains; everyone loses.

Even though it goes against your passion for helping others, recognizing others’ desires and their right to make their own choices, then stopping your attempts is the right thing to do. In this situation quitting is not failing, it’s acknowledging and respecting the other person’s right to making their own choices.

It’s easier to stop your attempts to help when you realize:

  • You’ve made an attempt to help…remaining true to your compassionate nature.
  • You can’t care more than they do.
  • You’ve planted a seed. Give it time to germinate…which is more likely to happen when you aren’t regularly reminding them of what they should be doing.
  • That you’ll be available to help them when they desire to change their behaviors.

That’s really all any of us can do. Accept it as the reality we all face.

For you

When you find that your attempts to help others are:

  • Falling on deaf ears.
  • Creating tension between you and the person you’re trying to help.
  • Causing you to be frustrated, anxious, stressed and less confident.

You care more than the other person…which means it’s time to stop pressing.

For our kids

Apply these concepts to your dealings with your kids. Allow them, to the extent possible, to make their own choices. They have to make mistakes to learn.

Live these messages, for kids mimic your behaviors.

Finally, help them understand that they can’t care more than the person they’re trying to help. Ask them how they feel when someone tries to make them do things they don’t want…yes, that includes what you tell them. They and you benefit from candid conversations.

When you and your kids follow these simple tips, your compassionate nature will serve both you and others’ well…when they want the help.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts below.


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