Keep Your Lantern Bright

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Unknown.

While talking with my granddaughters over Christmas, I was struck by the complexity of issues facing thirteen and fourteen year olds today. Questions around gender identity and sexual orientation, issues with absent parents, bullying, the stress of handling advanced placements. Both granddaughters come from stable homes and have few major issues of their own but they each tend to be the person to whom their friends  express their problems. I cautioned each of them to listen to their intuition, to not take on more than they can handle, and to set boundaries with their friends. (I sprinkled this into the conversation so it didn’t sound like a list of to-dos)

This is good advice for people of all ages. Having been a social worker, I know it’s difficult to walk the line between self-care and being a friend and confidante. At times we must say things like, “I know you’re really hurting right now and I want to listen and help you but I need to step back a bit. Perhaps we can talk about it later.” If you become overwhelmed by the problems of others, you no longer can help them or yourself. 

Affirmation: I can set boundaries.

Coaching questions: If you’re a confidante for your friends and family, how do you maintain your boundaries? Practice saying things, like the quote above, in advance so you’re ready when the time comes if you need to step back a bit from the overwhelm of the problems of others. 

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