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Managing your magnet. Monday March 10, 2014

There is something inside me that hones in on ‎people's vulnerability and wants to fix it. From family members, life-long friends, to work colleagues - even strangers I meet in passing. It's a skill I treasure in some ways; almost like x-ray vision which allows you to see into somebody's emotions. But in other ways it's a burden and inevitably leads me to feeling overwhelmed with emotional responsibility and wanting to hide away.

I call this my magnet. It's very much part of me and instinctively pulls people in. And, like a magnet, I don't want to let them go. As a result I am blessed with a large, diverse group of amazing people in my life. But in as much as I'm drawn to them, they're drawn to me and I get so much joy out of being an important part of their lives and investing time, emotion and energy into maintaining those relationships.

About a year and a half ago, my husband suffered a brain haemorrhage. Against all the odds he survived, but the journey from critical illness to recovery has been all-consuming.

Initially I used my magnet to full capacity and pulled in everyone I knew for support. But then something changed. My poles switched and I wanted to repel everybody and hide. I've been hiding for about eight months now and desperately trying to understand why.

After much un-tangling of head threads, I've come to realise my magnet is unmanageable. Holding on to others lives whilst coping with the weight of my own is unsustainable. But repelling them during such times is also not the answer. Functioning in polar opposite ways is difficult and confusing for everybody and that in itself is not maintainable.

I don't want to lose my magnet; it's my ‎power and my protector. But I do want to balance its poles so that no matter what life throws at me I can use it to help me and never have to hide again.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 6:15am

If we love - are we not promised help from God ?

Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:04am

It sounds to me that you are swinging your pendulum Learning what its like at the other end to then be able to find a balancing area somewhere inbetween.

This is a good process as it enables us to use the strong points of the first behaviour and learn a second mode of operating and then be able to choose beween them and then mix end blend strategies to really enhance our lives.

Learning this philosophy has really helped me to appreciate the switches in my life even when they are not pleasant objectively but seen in this light I am grateful for them nevertheless.

I believe you are on the right track and wish you all the best,

Julia Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:47am

It sounds as f you are a very caring person Snuggler and people gravitate towards you for your giving nature. But sometimes we give too much which drains us even in normal circumstances where we are not dealing also with a sick family member. All of us at some stage have to de clutter our friendships and part with some otherwise we are stretching ourselves too far and in all directions and end up unfit to look after ourselves let alone any one else. Personally I don't have many friends but the ones I keep in contact with are like minded and not demanding. I have had many very difficult friends in the past who have drained me and I have neglected my family and myself on occasions but not any more. I think everyone who is sensitive and caring goes through this (having too many "friends") and it all evens out and becomes manageable all by itself in the end. With no help from magnets!

Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:50am

I was exactually the same. Even with my own prolems and issues I always brushed them underneath the carpet to help others in need.

I would help them with the house work, shopping, lend them money, paying bill looking after there children, and cooking tea every night for them and lunch and tea at weekends. and I would do this for family friends are any person I would meet. I have always like to give an helping hand.

It then come to a point to were it was getting out of hand and everyone was just taking advantage of me. and the more I did the more reliable they was dependent on me which didnt help my mental health issues amd illness at the time.

It came to a point to were I had to stop helping the ones who was taking advantage of me and help the people who can also help me in return and give me the support I have never had of my family and friends.

Even though I have now stopet helping all these people doesnt stop me from having the huge to want to continue, but it is like everyone say they is a time in your life to were we all have to protect our self and to learn what affects our mental health and what can trigger it off. and in my life even though I have more than one trigger this is one of them.

I have now made new friends and even though I can count how many I have on one hand they do respect and support me better than all those people I have stopet helping and it is not about helping buy and support people so they will be your friend, it is about understand who the person is and being there for them as well as for you.


Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:53am

So glad I read this post . I too am the whole magnet thing and still do and also want to hide ! Hope we all find our balance too much of anything will inevitably drain a person . I'm sure feeling that these days. I hope good times come back round for us all! Take care xxxx Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 11:32am

A beautiful post Snuggler. ;o) Our strengths can indeed become our weaknesses at times eh? I feel you.

heather Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 12:07pm

Is this not the meaning of the word Bipolar - going to extremes, up and down like a see-saw - when we are up we are carried along on a wave, but have to come down at some point, so the more manageable the wave the smaller the fall. When we have responsibility to a family member that demands all our energies then others should respond accordingly or fade out of our lives. I like the magnet description, I can feel it - being either drawn into life or repelled by it. Still struggling sometimes with Bipolar but so much better now that I understand it and thank God for the "ups"!

Mary Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 2:49pm

Thank you for your post, Snuggler. I think many of us can relate to your dilemma. With my "sensible" hat on, I think we all need to have people in our life who give to us, in order for us to give to others. I wish you all success in finding your balance and in finding those people who give to you and take nothing from you. Accepting their gift is hard, humbling, but essential. I hope your husband continues to recover and that you can return to the light.

heather Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 5:06pm

PS: SNUGGLER - nothing wrong with snuggling for a while (sounds lovely).
So Good Luck Snuggler and may Divinity guide you. Heather x

Richard Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 6:04pm

Snuggler's post is brave, honest and has helped me today. Thankyou.

MatthewTheWriter Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 6:06pm

Dear Snuggler
I was very disturbed by your account of your relationships. The idea that you hone in on people's vulnerability and want to fix it and that you express this as being your power would lead me to avoid your company.

The greatest problem that the world has is the power seeking behaviour of humanity. People who seek power always have the delusion that they have the right to control others, whereas true love is liberating, the counterfeit version is controlling.

Most of our psychological problems start in childhood and the greatest damage is done by parents. There is a natural dependence in early childhood which requires parents to exercise control over their child. Later their is a need to change the relationship so that the child moves from dependence to independence. Lack of control in early years is as damaging as inappropriate control later on. Dependent adults fall under the influence of controlling adults which is a description of your power relationship with all these 'friends' who you are trying to fix.

Unfortunately you can never fix the underlying problems of others, so please give up on that delusion. The person you can fix is yourself, by understanding the unhealthy and ultimately futile desire to control and fix the lives of others. So please abandon your power and strive to become powerless.

Powerful people often believe that their influence is benign when the reality is that seeking to guide the lives of others is to imprison them in pseudo childhood and yourself in pseudo parenthood, so let them go.

I have learnt from repeated cycles of depression that had their roots in my childhood that there are certain people to avoid. This keeps me healthy. I avoid relationships with those who want to control me and I don't get depressed. One of the greatest moments of my life is when my youngest child sent a text message which read 'I love you all.' As this was late at night my wife and I panicked and assumed that he must be drunk and in some sort of crisis. When we eventually got to talk to him, he was absolutely sober. The text had been sent when he was thinking how grateful he was to his parents for allowing him to be himself and letting him make his own choices. One out of three, but we try our best to let go of his two older sisters and hope that the parenting mistakes we made with them don't carry on into the next generation.

Other people have blogged in sympathy with your original message, which indicates how common the desire to fix others is. This desire to guide others avoids the more difficult problem of changing ourselves. Mankind has the ability to adapt the environment to suit the needs of humanity. Trying to adapt our external environment to suit our needs is acceptable until it applies to relationships with other people. When we endeavor to adapt other people to fit our view of them we deny our own need to change and yet being focused on others and forming inappropriate parent-child relationships with adults prevents the pseudo parent and the pseudo child from achieving full maturity.

We all should grow up and allow, even encourage those around us to grow up too.

You may think that this unsympathetic response to your difficulty is harsh, however you are completely free to ignore what I have written because I am not in charge of your life and have no desire to control you. The purpose of writing this is to attempt to open the eyes of the people who are sucked into your sphere of influence (or others like you.) Hopefully the ones you are 'helping' (or are being 'helped' by people like you) will seek different kind of relationships in the future. I have been 'helped' by people to the extent that it caused depression.

So to conclude - I don't want to be helped in the way you feel you have a right to do. I prefer to avoid people who want to fix me. Until you change the way you relate to others it would be unhealthy for me to be involved in any way with you.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 7:29pm

Thank you all for the comments; a nice read on the way home.

In relation to the last one (MatthewTheWriter), I think there's a lot of truth in what you say, particularly on the desire to fix people detracting from changing ourselves.

But on the note of desire, it is just that. A desire - a sensitivity, empathy or awareness if you will - to others' personal circumstances (good or bad). I don't strive for power or to control others, nor be controlled for that matter; like you that causes a personal low.

What I describe as my metaphorical magnet power = a deep caring and sensitivity to others' needs, not the action of fixing it. What I mean by power is the emotional insight it gives me that makes me care about other people - often too much.

My metaphorical magnet protector = is in part the same: insight which brings emotional awareness on when to invest or avoid people/ situations but also the more self preserving action of hiding, the latter of which I'm working to find better balance on.

Any action on my part is born out of someone asking, regardless of my magnetic instinct on how to respond. Dependent adults these may be, but people ask - a lot. I just need to deal with it better, for me.


Nancy Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:55pm

I also very empathic and compassionate. I have to visualize giving the problem back to the person so that I don't continue to carry their problems around. Being kind and compassionate hurts because we take on another person's pain. We need to release that pain in healthy ways.

Julia Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 9:13pm

I would value your friendship Snuggler. You sound such a lovely person to be around. xxx

Julia Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 9:31pm

Dear Matthew the writer. I do hope Snuggler wasn't so shocked by your comment on her blog today as I was. I see Sunggler as a very caring loving person who tries to help vulnerable people. Simple. No complicated reasons, just pure and simple kindness on her part. The world could do with more people like Snuggler. Poor thing has had to care for her husband who had a brain tumour and also has been a friend to so many who looked to her for the kind of friendship few people can offer. But she can and I think we should value this and heap praise on snuggler for her efforts to help others before she helps herself. You obviously have your reasons for writing your comment and I am sorry if you too have had a hard time in your life. But that is another completely different issue than the one snuggler is writing about. I see no connection or relevance at all in your comment to the situation Snuggler describes. However I send you sincere good wishes for your future and I do hope you are managing to keep your depression from surfacing too often.

Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 9:57pm

Thank you for those lovely words, Julia - so very much appreciated .x.


Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 10:27pm

Hi Snuggler

It sounds to me you have too much on your plate to cope with. To have someone you love be so ill is difficult - you have to physically look after them but it's also emotionally draining too. Also, because you're usually giving other people your attention and then it suddenly switched to you asking them for help, you probably don't feel comfortable with it which is why you've switched off.

You should let these friends help you as they are probably so grateful for the time and energy you've given them that they really want to help. People won't help you if they don't want to. Just think how good you felt helping them and think how good they will feel if you give them a chance to help you. Good luck. Just take it a little easier and accept some help.

Julia Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 10:39pm


Anonymous Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 11:03pm

A lovely post Snuggler. I too have a yearning to feel the pain of others, to empathise and value the feelings of others. Is that not what differentiates us from animal life?
Given what you have been through, I think you have more strength than you realise. You must feel burn't out and oh so weary. You just go gently Snuggler. You'll come back healthier from these feelings. I'm sure of it. Take good care and write again soon! Xx

Anonymous Tue, Mar 11th 2014 @ 12:13am

Very powerful stuff. I can relate to this as I clearly recall trying to sort adults' problems out as young as 5 years old. It is a gift but also a curse and can lead you into dangerous places if not managed properly. Snuggler, I've worked with people with acquired brain injury, and I know how devastating it can be for the whole family, I'm sending you and your husband my very best wishes for a brighter future and make sure you take good care of yourself first and foremost.

Lostinspace Tue, Mar 11th 2014 @ 3:10am

Fascinating stuff. When I was extremely depressed I remember confessing to a therapist that I felt very guilty for thinking of myself so much and she reassured me that it is one of the signs of depression. Therefore I am assuming that depression makes us subjective and everyone here has very naturally commented from their own perspective. When I am depressed I feel particularly vulnerable so perhaps that is why I like to tiptoe when commenting. Sometimes our own problems are overwhelming and make it very hard to help others and I think that is quite okay. Ideally,that is when we should if we are able, ask others for help. The physical and mental effort of caring for someone who is very unwell can be exhausting, I think Snuggler is more than entitled to take a break and maybe her unconscious did this for her so she can get a rest. Just listening to someone else's problem can be helpful, mostly I don't think they expect us to solve the dilemma just to be heard.
Worn myself out trying not to tread on anyone's toes, so I'll just tiptoe off to bed!

Anonymous Tue, Mar 11th 2014 @ 7:35pm

I think when people get very tired physically their body at some point decides enough is enough and takes time to recuperate by withdrawing. Once you give yourself the time and space to replenish and revitalise yourself you will be able to revert to being the person you used to be. One person can only do so much and its sounds as though you pushed yourself to the limit and gave 100%..

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