How to Be There for Others Without Taking on Their Pain

Original post from:

“Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.” ~Melody Beattie

When our loved ones suffer, it’s hard not to get swept up in their pain. We want so desperately to fix them, to take away their hardship, and to see them flourishing.

As a control freak, I often find myself going into “fixer mode” when my partner is struggling with work stress, which only makes me more anxious when nothing I suggest works, and him more frustrated when I get so preoccupied with his issues.

Then, after all my frantic attempts at control, there’s a little voice inside that tells me to stop. To listen. To be there for him without trying to change anything. To witness his pain and sit next to him while he feels it.

In this way, it’s not my job to fix his problems. It’s my job to be there for him with love as he figures out how to handle his own suffering. I am freed from feeling the responsibility of taking on his pain.

Here are a few tips for how to not get overwhelmed when others are suffering.

Realize that being supportive doesn’t mean fixing their problems.

I often think back to when my mental health was at its worst. I dealt with debilitating panic disorder, agoraphobia, and depression, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for my family to see me suffering so greatly.

But what I am most grateful for during that time is that my loved ones never tried to fix me. They didn’t become obsessed with finding a solution, and they didn’t rush me to get better. All of that would have increased my anxiety tenfold.

Instead, they simply supported me. They constantly let me know that they were there for me if I needed them. Just knowing that I had someone to count on if things got hard was incredibly helpful.

One way we can be supportive of others is to practice listening without the intent to respond with solutions. What would that be like if we simply held space for others without needing to respond?

I took a yoga workshop recently where we partnered up with a stranger and took turns sharing our struggles. The one not speaking had to simply listen, and was not allowed to respond.

So we practiced listening with our whole bodies, hearts, and minds, released from the need to think of something to say in return. Instead, we got to be a loving witness to this person’s experience.

Sometimes all that our loved ones need is to be seen, and to know that someone is there for them.

Allow them to find their own way.

This can be hard. It’s hard to let go of control so much that you allow other people to have their own journeys. If my family or partner had stepped in during my rough patches with panic disorder, I wouldn’t have gone through the trenches of it myself.

I wouldn’t have learned my own strength. I wouldn’t have been so amazingly transformed, body, mind, and soul, as I am now.

At that time, I didn’t need someone to take away my pain; I needed someone to be there with love and patience as I experienced my own pain.

Can we offer loving suggestions? Sure. Can we help them in productive ways? Of course. But at the end of the day, it is their lesson to learn. And we have to practice letting go of the outcome.

When a relative passed from cancer a couple of years ago, it was horrifying to see her transform from a vibrant woman to a frail, bedridden one, writhing in pain. Those last few days, she lost her vision. She couldn’t eat or drink. All she wanted was for the suffering to end.

After witnessing this, I automatically wanted to take on that pain. I felt it as my own. I started to suffer the pain she was experiencing.

Eventually, I had to realize that this was her journey. This was her pain, not mine, and I didn’t have to take that on. It actually doesn’t help anyone or anything for us to carry around pain that isn’t even ours.

Realize that you’re only responsible for yourself.

You can’t control other people. You can’t control who suffers and who doesn’t. And what a burden that would be if we felt we needed to safeguard everyone in our lives from pain. That’s too overwhelming.

You are only responsible for yourself. So how can you take better care of yourself as you care for others?

If there’s someone in your life who is going through a rough time, you have to respect your own limits. You have to set boundaries in how much you can safely and lovingly give.

Giving to others when we are depleted ourselves doesn’t serve us, and it doesn’t serve them if they aren’t receiving your help out of love, but out of obligation or fear.

Instead, find ways you can care for and respect yourself, so that you can be available as a support if that feels appropriate and safe for you.

Practice grounding back into your own body and energy field often.

When we’re caring for others, we may have a tendency to take on their energy. It’s like when we’re around an angry person. Even if we’re not angry ourselves, we may feel our heart quicken, our breathing become shallow, and our temperature start to rise.

Practice grounding back into your own body so that you can recognize what’s yours and what is not.

One way to do this is to get physical, connecting back to your own body through yoga, exercise, and dance.

Immerse yourself in nature. I love to go hiking when I get overwhelmed with others’ energy, and allow the grounding energy of the earth to support me. Spend time alone.

Anything you can do to bring your attention back to your own body will serve you in grounding your energy.

It can be very difficult to separate ourselves from others and to let go of needing to take away our loved ones’ pain. It’s something I still struggle with, but I’m learning every day that I am not responsible for anyone else. I can be there with love and kindness, but beyond that is out of my control.

All I can control is how well I care for myself, so that this love can then ripple out in support of others.





About Malia Bradshaw

Malia Bradshaw is a yoga teacher, writer, and mental health advocate. You can find more of her work, including her life-changing Meditation Program for Anxiety, blog, e-books, yoga videos, and more at To connect, follow her on Instagram @yogaforanxiety.

Web | More Posts

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post How to Be There for Others Without Taking on Their Pain appeared first on Tiny Buddha.


There is Always an Open Door

Original post from:

There is always an open door of opportunity and possibility.   And it is in your own thought that the door will be shown to you…or not. It begins with  your belief. When you doubt, fear, and worry, and feel you have no where to turn or don’t have answers; that is the moment where you […]


Is Someone or Something Pushing you?

Original post from:

You can only be pushed to do something if you are willing to be pushed. There are times where someone needs something for you to do and that someone can be urgent and insisting about what they need or want. This can make you feel that uncomfortable resistant pushing thought and feeling that signals you […]


Boost Your Happiness: 10 Mindfulness Tips for Busy People

Original post from:

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Do you ever feel as though you would be happy if only things were a little different?

You know that happiness is important, but you keep putting it on the backburner because there simply isn’t enough time to prioritize your own inner joy.

And at the same time, you know that meditation would help, but you can’t even imagine where you’re going to get the spare time you need to sit still and meditate.

In an ideal world, we would schedule moments every day in which to cater to our health needs, because health and well-being are paramount. Yet despite our best efforts we will inevitably face those times when we’re busy every minute of the day. I know I’ve been there.

A few years ago I moved country while pursuing life as a freelance journalist. I was working non-stop for a less than minimum wage, and I had zero time to focus on my mental health.

Life became unbearably stressful. And while I knew that I could stop the stress if I meditated, I simply couldn’t work out how I would ever get the time to do it.

My happiness drifted further and further away. Stress built. Anxiety hit hard. And with zero free time I simply couldn’t find a way out of my misery.

I knew meditation was the key. I just didn’t have the time for it. So I made a choice. Instead of meditating the old-fashioned way, sitting still doing nothing, I would find ways to meditate while still being productive. That way I could work on my happiness while still doing everything I needed to do.

The key was mindfulness.

By simply being present and living in the moment, I could meditate while getting things done.

This was a total game-changer for me. Suddenly I had all the time in the world to practice mindfulness because I could do it while still being productive.

I was mindful day and night. I would eat meals mindfully, walk mindfully, read my email mindfully… whatever I needed to do I would do mindfully.

Suddenly I had gone from having no time to meditate to making mindfulness an integrated part of my life.

All mindful moments were helpful at this time. But there were ten mindful practices that I found particularly valuable. And even though today I keep a much healthier schedule and make sure not to spread myself too thin, I still use these practices.

Whether you’re going through a busy time or looking for an alternative to traditional seated-meditation, you can use these techniques to boost your mindfulness while saving time.

1. Walk mindfully.

Walking is one of the most relaxing exercises in the world. But it can be all too easy to ruin a good walk by thinking too much. When walking, be mindful of the world around you, paying attention to your five senses. Alternatively, meditate on the feeling of movement in your legs, which is a practice used in Zen walking.

2. Eat mindfully.

Eating mindfully is one of the most wonderful things we do for both body and mind. When we eat mindfully we become more aware of the food we are eating. This makes us more appreciative of food and of the digestive process, and also makes us more likely to eat healthily. Take time eating meals, and focus on the food.

3. In a queue? Meditate.

Here’s a great time-saving tip. When you’re in a queue, meditate. You’re standing still doing nothing anyway, and you could be there for a good few minutes, so why not make the most of the time.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable with your eyes closed in public, gaze at a wall or something else that is not distracting, and focus on breathing. This is a great way to actually make use of time that would otherwise be wasted.

4. Meditate on the bus.

This is my all time favorite mindfulness practice. I’m frequently using the bus in order to help cut emissions, and my trips range from half an hour to well over an hour. That’s time that would be utterly wasted. But by meditating I actually get something out of my time on the bus.

Personally, I’m always happy to sit with my eyes closed and look a little bit funny doing so. But if you prefer not to draw attention to yourself, keep your eyes open and simply drop your gaze to a forty-five-degree angle. Now focus on your breath.

5. Exercise with body and mind.

Oftentimes when we’re exercising the body thoughts are still ruminating in the mind. Big mistake. Physical exercise can be used as training for both body and mind. All we need to do is focus while we exercise.

Some exercises are more conducive to this than others. Yoga, tai chi, and Qigong are all excellent mind and body exercises, and running can be another good choice. Other exercises such as weight-lifting and competitive team sports are less appropriate.

6. Actually watch the TV.

How often do we have the TV on without actually focusing on it? We’ve got some random show playing in the background while we’re thinking of what to make for dinner or what we have to do at work. This creates a rift between our reality and what’s occurring in the mind. And this is detrimental to mental health.

When watching the TV, actually set aside an hour or so in which to genuinely watch a show. Focus on the show. And when it is over turn off the TV.

7. Lie down in body and mind.

Lying down is, of course, an act of rest. But too often when we lie down we rest the body while still working the mind. How many times have you gone to bed worrying about the next day? Such moments are not genuine rest, and they certainly are not conducive to good sleep.

When lying down with the body, we should lie down with the mind too. To do this, focus the mind on the body. Focus on the body at rest.

Begin by focusing on the crown of your head. Notice what sensations are there. Is there any tension? If so, imagine breathing fresh air into that area. The fresh air relaxes. It carries away the tension.

Once the crown of your head is relaxed, move down to your forehead and repeat the process there.

Continue one step at a time, progressing through your eyes, nose, mouth, neck and so on, all the way to your feet.

Your entire body will now be utterly relaxed. Focus on it. Be mindful of your entire body. Particularly be aware of the sense of relaxation. Keep the mind there, your consciousness evenly spread across your whole body.

This is lying down in mind as well as in body. It is an immensely relaxing experience and one of the best ways of refreshing the mind.

8. Really listen.

Everyone loves a good listener, and listening can be an act of mindfulness too. All we need do is pay absolute attention to the person speaking. When doing this, we do not judge their voice or what they are saying, and we do not worry about how we are going to respond; we simply focus on the sound of the other person’s voice.

9. When working, work.

Let’s be completely honest, most of us do not focus on work 100 percent unless the boss is standing next to us. Instead, we’re thinking about how we want to get out of the office, how we’d rather be at home or out having fun. But dreaming about not working while we’re at work simply makes us miserable.

When we focus the mind 100 percent on the work we’re doing we come to actually enjoy our jobs. So, when writing, write. When selling, sell. And when listening to that angry customer’s complaints, listen. This will stop work from feeling like a chore and make it a pleasurable, mindful experience.

10. Listen to the kettle and meditate on the drink.

As an Englishman, my kettle is turned on far too many times throughout the day, and I do delight in drinking far too much tea. (It’s usually green, so at least I’ve got that going for me.)

One way to make a cup of tea or coffee even better is to meditate on it. Meditate on the sound of the kettle when it is boiling. Focus on the process of making the tea or coffee. And drink mindfully. This will make you appreciate the drink more, while also increasing present-moment-mindfulness.

Mindfulness needn’t take time. We can be mindful while doing the things we need to do. And in the process, we can boost our happiness and health without losing time.

The ten tips we’ve looked at provide ways to boost mindfulness while saving time. And there are many similar tips.

What is your favorite way of being mindful?

About Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He has read hundreds of books, attended lectures, spoken with gurus, and learnt everything there is to know about mindfulness and meditation. He shares his wisdom in the inspiring and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You and in his guide to 31 different ways to meditate.

Web | More Posts

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post Boost Your Happiness: 10 Mindfulness Tips for Busy People appeared first on Tiny Buddha.


How to Get Out of Your Head and Stop Overthinking Everything

Original post from:

“It’s not a matter of letting go, you would if you could. Instead of ‘Let it go,’ we should probably say ‘Let it be.’” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

I always believed that a busy mind was a bad thing.

And for a large part of my life, it was.

Looking back, I don’t ever recall a time when I wasn’t caught up in my thoughts. There was always a “narrator” in my head. A constant commentary.

I tried meditating but would spend ten agonizing minutes trying desperately to push my thoughts away or make them stop, which we know is impossible. Not thinking wasn’t unlike attempting to separate a limb from my body. Yup, such was my attachment to my thoughts.

Yoga presented yet another futile attempt at mindfulness. I’d notice the other participants perfectly present and focused, while my mind would be hammering away, comparing me to others, debating why I was actually there, or criticizing my performance.

The uninformed might think that only “negative” overthinking is the problem. However, in my experience over analysis or overthinking of any topic or event (even really happy ones) generally leads to a bad feeling place.

For example, if someone paid me a compliment I would more often than not talk myself into believing that I wasn’t deserving of it. That the person in question was simply being kind, or feeling pity for me.

Back then I felt trapped. My thinking mind was something I feared. It could start up at any time and unravel me. I would long to be able to simply switch it off.

I over-analyzed everything. Simple conversations would become unnecessarily intense and uncomfortable. I found hidden meanings in every innuendo.

My thinking knew no limits. It would scrutinize the past, present, and future. And boy, could it create some intense stories—none of which were true, of course.

I felt cursed. Burdened. Why couldn’t I be normal??

And, of course, those near and dear to me reflected that back to me.

“Get out of your head!”

“Don’t overthink everything!”

“Why do you need to analyze everything??”

And my personal favorite…

“It must be exhausting being you.”

It was exhausting. I was at constant war with myself. Was there a way to think less? Could I dummy-down my thoughts?

In desperation, I learned how to smother my thinking. Food, drama, and bad relationships became my vices. They enabled me to co-exist with my manic mind.

I was simply a victim of my thinking. Out of control.

Until I happened upon a new understanding about our thinking.

It’s an understanding that’s completely changed my life, about how our thinking is separate from who we truly are.

We are not our thoughts. Nope, quite the opposite.

We have a constant stream of thoughts meandering through our minds. That’s part of being human. However, we get to choose which of those to engage with.

Author and blogger Pam Grout has a brilliant analogy for thoughts: They’re like a line of ants marching across your picnic blanket. You can choose to observe them as they keep on marching straight off the other side of the blanket and disappear, or you can choose to scoop them up and interact with them. Make them your focus. Fuss over them. And they’ll probably bite you too.

But there’s your power: It’s your choice.

You decide which thoughts you pay attention to.

Because thoughts come and go. All the time. And that’s normal.

If you’re able to observe the fact that you’re overthinking, then you’re already noticing the separation of you and your mind.

It really is that simple.

Like anything new, it’s taken time (and practice) for me to allow this understanding to really resonate and to notice the benefits, of which there are many. To name a few:

I’m more accepting of what is. I no longer feel the need to intellectualize and/or judge every facet of my life. And with that comes a real sense of ease.
I experience far more contentment. A busy mind often ends in a dark place if left untethered. By not engaging in the endless chatter, feelings of contentment have become a familiar friend.
I’m more empowered. Knowing that I can choose which thoughts to engage has removed any sense of victimhood I previously felt.

As with any new habit, persistence is the key.

What I’ve realized is that I don’t have to stop thinking, I simply need to be selective about whether I believe my thinking. Because most of our thoughts are just stories we make up, often regretting the past or worrying about the future.

Most aren’t true. At all.

I used to be a bit of a helicopter parent. I admit it.

So when my daughter reached the age of legal driving and nightclubbing, my over-thinking mind went into overdrive. She would go out with her friends (as young adults do), and I would have an internal meltdown. Quite literally.

My mind would imagine every worst-case scenario possible, in great detail.

Car accidents. Date rape. Abduction. You name it, I imagined it.

And it would replay over and over and over again in my mind, until I was a knot of nerves and worry. Sleep just wasn’t ever an option.

I would start texting her from about midnight, just to check she was alive. (I was that bad…)

When she finally got home in the early hours, I would feel such a flood of relief it was almost overwhelming.

It was exhausting experiencing such intense emotion from one end of the scale to the other.

Yet, it was all a result of my thinking. That’s all.

And after a year of this roller-coaster ride I finally took action. Not with my daughter—with me. Or my thinking, to be more precise.

This flood of thoughts that invaded my mind each time she ventured out would always be there, but it was my choice whether I took them seriously or not.

So I started acknowledging their presence when they showed up, then I let them flow through me. I reasoned with myself that her life was hers to live, and that I had no control over her destiny. And that made it easier. Because that’s the truth.

If I felt that familiar knot of anxiety in my gut, I would remind myself that none of those thoughts were real. I was okay. She was okay.

And in time, it got easier. I worried less and less. I even managed to sleep while she was out!

Nowadays, I only really listen to my thinking when it’s telling nice stories. Stories that makes me feel good. The rest of the time I either consciously change my thinking direction toward better feeling thoughts, or I just let my mind waffle on, without paying attention.

It’s a bit like having the radio on in the background. And when a song starts that I like, I pay attention.

Yup, I choose when to pay attention.

No exceptions.

My thinking doesn’t control me anymore. I control how I engage with it.

My busy mind is my ally. My friend. My inner play-mate.

And one of the things that makes me, me.

About Jacky Exton

Jacky believes that ANYONE can feel good! Without exception. Through coaching, she teaches frustrated and overwhelmed people that happiness is not conditional. Ever. Better feelings are always within reach, even in the nastiest conditions. When she’s not coaching or running in the mountains, Jacky is also a mom, author, and blogger. Connect for some free introductory coaching here or enjoy more of her musings at

Web | More Posts

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post How to Get Out of Your Head and Stop Overthinking Everything appeared first on Tiny Buddha.


The Best for your Life

Original post from:

Do you trust that every experience is leading you to the best for your life?  Or do you just roll with the punches and wait for the other shoe to drop? When we are experiencing life, it is essential to appreciate and create positive thoughts and moments as life is rolling along.  And when a […]


Take a Chance: Don’t Let Your Inner Saboteur Hold You Back

Original post from:

“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

On my first day back in college, I sat on a bench outside a classroom and wrote in a tiny notebook. Glancing around at the young students lining up, my sunglasses slid down my nose as I hurriedly scribbled the thoughts buzzing around in my head.

“I’m afraid of being unprepared. I’m afraid of not being smart enough. I’m afraid of being left behind in the coursework. I’m afraid of giving up like I did last time.”

As evidenced in that journal entry, I was pretty terrified to be back in school.

I felt too old, too far behind, too unsure of why I was even trying in the first place. Wasn’t it too late to “catch up” anyway? Weren’t all of my friends already done with their bachelors, done even with their graduate degrees, forging careers and buying houses and doing those things that we all say we’ll do when we grow up? Hadn’t I made my bed when I gave up college the first time?

Really I just knew that it was too late to catch up to the one person I’d been chasing my whole life.

She was magnificent, really. This person had gone to college when she was “supposed” to, had since forged a meaningful career path, hadn’t wasted years in bad relationships and bad behaviors. She’d chased her dreams and flossed her teeth, run marathons and won awards, had tons of friends and confidence and was now living wealthy and successful and madly in love…

…all cozied up inside my head.

That person was the woman I “wished” I was, and she was making my life a living hell. My constant comparison to the ghost life that I should have led would stop me in my tracks as I began to take steps toward goals: You’ll never be who you could have been, so why even try?

It’s for this reason that my return to school was a surrender of sorts.

A surrender to my inner perfectionist, the one who told me that if I didn’t do it “perfectly” or at the time other people had done it (whatever “it” was), then I shouldn’t do it at all.

The perfectionist who told me it was too late, that I would fail, that trying to be successful (like really trying) was the surest way to feel badly in the near future. My inner shame cranker, my saboteur, the voice that was easiest to hear throughout all the static of daily life.

Signing up for my first college class was waving the white flag at her door. It was saying, “Yes, I am imperfect, things didn’t go the way that I planned, but I may as well try.”

So I showed up for one class and then two, glancing sideways at my classmates that were often far younger and seemingly more prepared.

The first few weeks I felt like an awkward dinosaur, struggling to keep up and too nervous to raise my hand in class. As time went on, though, I began to get braver, approaching teachers with questions and relaxing around my classmates.

When I opened my eyes a little wider I was forced to realize that I wasn’t actually all that different from the other people taking classes. Sure, most were younger, but some were older; some were strikingly intelligent but others were asking me for help. As I kept showing up and diligently doing the assigned work, I found that I actually felt pretty good.

I liked seeing A’s on my papers, but what I liked even more was the feeling growing inside of me. Each week that I showed up for class was another week that I hadn’t given up; each time I raised my hand was another time I didn’t listen to the voice that told me my question was stupid.

The weeks flew by and before I knew it, that first semester had passed. I felt like I’d completed my own marathon, the one I was running with myself, and decided to push the finish line a little further away. One more semester became two, then three, and soon I was preparing to transfer to a university.

My “I-can-do-it” train had gathered steam, and although I would sometimes falter with the difficulty of the courses, the train never totally stopped. My small victories had accumulated for long enough that I began to trust myself: to learn, to grow, to continue.

It took me longer than four years, but this past June I did in fact graduate.

As I sat in a stadium surrounded by hundreds of bobbing graduation caps, I took a moment to remember that girl who had sat on a bench outside her first college class. The one who had written about how scared she was, how sure of failing, how inadequate she knew herself to be. I realized that she was the same person sitting in a cap and gown, smiling with excitement and preparing to cross a stage and be handed a diploma.

The only difference was time spent proving the fearful voice wrong.

Sure, I’ll never compare to the perfectionist inside of me. She’s definitely still there and she still crops up sometimes, trying to convince me not to take that chance or venture out onto another limb; whispering in my ear that I’m not doing it right and I’m sure to embarrass myself anyway.

You know what I’ve figured out, though? I don’t have to listen to her. None of us do. (My inner perfectionist gets around. I told you she’s popular, so I’m assuming she’s in your head too.)

The voices inside all of us no doubt serve a purpose, but sometimes that purpose is just to keep us safe.

“Don’t take that chance; you could fail” protects our ego from the pain of disappointment. “Don’t expect much from yourself; you aren’t capable” means that we don’t have to get our hopes up. The flip side of that, though, is pushing through those thoughts and doing things anyway.

Taking that class. Going on that trip around the world. Applying for that job or writing that book or telling someone about an idea you have.

Not listening to the negative voices in our head begins with first realizing that they’re in there; they’ve often been playing on repeat for so long that they blend in with the soundtrack of our mind. They feel like us, but they’re not: they’re no more us than that ghost life is—the one that we wish we had led, the one that never existed in the first place.

If there’s one thing that my return to college taught me, it’s that the surest way to drown out the doubt in my head is to put one foot in front of the other and prove it wrong. Thank that doubtful naysayer for her opinion, suggest she get back to being perfect, and go forth with whatever it is that will make this actual life even a little better.

I’d say it’s time we all did that; bid those lame perfectionists farewell and live the imperfect and real lives that we were actually meant to live anyway.

About Melissa Pennel

Melissa Pennel is a coffee drinker, over thinker, and empowerment coach in Northern California. Find more of her writing on her blog. Catch up with Melissa on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website.

Web | More Posts

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post Take a Chance: Don’t Let Your Inner Saboteur Hold You Back appeared first on Tiny Buddha.