How Can You Be Emotionally Healthy If You Empty Yourself?


Image by Thomas Hawk, via Flickr

On any given day, this blog is my go-to place to wrestle with questions that trouble me and offer what little insight I have. But today I would like to turn that around. I had another post planned, but listening to the daily readings podcast this morning, I found myself challenged almost right out of the box. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. And Take as an example of hardship the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

I find myself caught these days between the call to self-emptying that is central to the faith and the wisdom of interpersonal relationships which tells us that healthy relationships cannot exist when one party is suppressing her hurts, because that will only lead to resentment and, eventually, division.

Basically, I find myself caught in a spiritual/emotional tug-of-war between “I am called to give way to everyone else” and “I have a right and in fact a duty to assert myself when I am hurt.”

So today I would like you to talk to me–via combox, via Facebook, or even via email–and tell me how you bring these two seemingly irreconcilable truths into harmony.

No Easy Answers

3 thoughts on “How Can You Be Emotionally Healthy If You Empty Yourself?

  1. Meghan K

    Maybe I misunderstood, but I don’t think caring for others and being treated with respect and dignity are mutually exclusive. As a nurse I act exclusively as a care giver, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for people to treat me without respect. I’ve been assaulted by patients before, which makes the relationship a little more complicated, but it’s still possible to protect myself and provide care.

    As a wife and mother, reminding my family to treat each other and me with love and respect is just part of my job. There are times when the most loving, caring thing I can do is to say, “you’re being a jerk right now, shape up.”

    • This is what I’ve been feeling lately, and yet where does turning the other cheek fit into that? Where do you draw the line between letting go, forgive & forget, and being a doormat? Shouldn’t we be aspiring to be so in tune with God that we don’t GET resentful by not responding to things that bother us?

      • Meghan K

        I guess for me, I generally tell people in the moment when a line is crossed. I can absolutely end an unhealthy interaction without harboring hard feelings. I don’t feel like there is anything to forgive, the other person chose to shut down that interaction by acting unacceptably, and when behavior improves we can resume.

        If I tell a patient their surgery is cancelled because they tested positive for cotinine and they respond by yelling at me and threatening to have my license revoked, ok, they’re stressed and I get that, but by crossing a line and threatening me they’ve communicated that they want to end the nurse-patient relationship for the time being. When they are able to talk without threatening and yelling we can continue where we left off. I don’t personally see any offense that needs to be forgiven.

        If the unhealthy interaction is persistent, I don’t pursue it further. I think that’s the trade-off for me.

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