Caring father and son

When Care Becomes Overcare

Compassion and care are powerful attributes of the heart. Hopefully most of us know how good it feels to be cared for. From the smallest acts like someone holding the door open for you, to bigger expressions like a community deciding to crowd source funds to help someone pay for their hospital bills.

Compassion and care provide a regenerative energy for both the sender and receiver – even if we don’t always see the ways it nurtures and heals.

On occasion our care and compassion can leave us feeling drained and stressed. Emergency relief workers will tell you that compassion fatigue is very real – it takes practice to care for people without becoming overly identified with their challenges.

The energy drain and depletion we sometimes feel can happen as a result of being out of balance with our care. Sometimes our care can cross a line and turns into worry, anxiety and stress. In other words, our care and compassion start to drain our energy and becomes what is called “overcare.”

It’s important to balance our care so it doesn’t adversely affect our relationships, our health or other areas of our lives. Here’s an example of how one person’s overcare caused him a lot of stress.

Isaac recently told us about his father who has an unresolved health issue. The father learned about the issue a few years ago, and was told it should be taken care of within a few months. Isaac has been urging his father to take action ever since.

Recently Isaac was speaking with his father and found out that nothing had been done. Instead of his doctor’s recommendation, the father intended to try something different he found on the internet.

Having a deep care and concern for his father, Isaac couldn’t stop thinking about it. He was losing sleep over it and the more he reviewed the conversation, the more upset he became. The next time Isaac spoke with his father they had a huge argument over the issue and they didn’t speak for a couple weeks as a result.

Isaac realized that his care for his father had turned into worry and anxiety. He could only think of the worst case scenarios and was convinced they would end up happening. Isaac’s care turned into a stress producing overcare event in his life and also his fathers. It was the opposite of what he intended.

Once Isaac realized this he decided to talk with his father. Back to a place of balanced care, the two were able to come to an agreement that left them both feeling connected in the heart again.

Isaac said he was able to see how his overcare was driven by being over attached to how he wanted things to go and to the timing he felt was most appropriate.

Overcare isn’t bad, and it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t genuinely care. Yet it can block the flow of regenerative care between the sender and receiver.

Our hearts have an amazing capacity to care, and by all means we never want to stop caring – it is one of the greatest gifts we can give or receive. Adding more balance can amplify the power of our care and the regenerative quality it can provide.

– Your friends at HeartMath

TIP: In the book, Heart Intelligence, chapter ten provides valuable insights about care and overcare. It also offers suggested practices that can help with learning to identify overcare and ways we can more quickly return to balanced care.