Monday, February 16, 2009

Brokenness, not Selfishness

This post might not make sense unless you read yesterday's post. In it, I talked about how a person can see that they are "giving" to people in a self destructive way and don't understand it. I suggested that underneath that there is another level in which the giving behavior really serves a purpose to the self. That in some way, it is an adaptive strategy to protect, preserve or build up him/herself.

Please don't jump to the conclusion that I believe that selfless acts are really closeted selfish acts.

A while ago, I had water in my basement. A friend came over and spent about 90 minutes trying this and that, looking in the ceiling about which pipes came from where, had me turn on and off various taps at various times. Then he spent about 15 minutes replacing a short piece of pipe and after the mopping up, the problem was resolved and the water was gone.

Understanding the source of the leak led to the ability to develop the right strategy to fix the pipe. He had to find the place where it was broken to most effectively fix it.

The strategies a person develops to get through life feeling OK about oneself, like altruism-to-the-point-of-damage, are designed to help a person cope with another part of themselves that needs that support...what counselling does is help a person get to know the part that needs support and understand what is going on.

It is then that adaptive strategies can be found to meet the needs of the brokenness of that part in such a way that it feels good to the person--and that usually helps the people around the person as well.

It's not about blaming or finding fault, it's about understanding the inner dynamics of a person and using that information to grow in life-giving ways.

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