People-pleaser to fighter: The Nurturer’s Journey

“One can easily become a monster… it’s pathetic. What I want more than anything… is to know how to care. Bah.”

Today I wanted to talk about the Nurturer. This is the part of one’s self who naturally cares about others, and wants to help people to become better. He (or she) sees people in need, and wants to help. He has good intentions.

But perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The Nurturer sometimes gets too excited about the idea of helping somebody that he forgets the whole picture, and all the complexities involved in taking action. Sometimes we hurt people without intending to, or we support those who are creating harm.

All too often, the Nurturer turns those bad results on himself, feeling guilt and pain. He buys self-help books. He fantasizes about being able to truly help others, and can get envious of those who already do. And after the envy and guilt, he fully accepts it was a mistake to get so down on himself, that he still has flaws, that he still has much to learn. And he has the drive.

There’s another path for the Nurturer, that doesn’t involve constantly modifying himself and examining his flaws, where he doesn’t have to keep watching himself in order to be a better, kinder human being. Instead, he can fight.

Mistakes in kindness usually happen when a part of yourself that’s out of line – something arrogant, demeaning, prideful, hateful – goes unquestioned inside you. Your Nurturer can decide that, instead of catering to the whims of others all the time, and helping those in need, he can do more good by fighting with those who create your suffering. Questioning them. In the process, he’ll be confronting his own demons – thus changing and becoming more able to care for others.

That’s the thing – defeating what’s uncaring in you, rather than cleaning up after them, you become more caring.

After wandering around under the radar, doing good here, good there, the decision to fight makes this part of yourself more like a chivalrous knight. Ready to draw a hard line and tell your inner demons to back down. Ready to prove their approach to life as wrong.

How does this relate to your interactions with other people? At some point, rather than trying to please others and find ways to give benefit to them, you begin to see their flaws are what truly harm them. I got to that point, and this is what I did:

I didn’t want to be judgmental, so instead I wanted to help solve those imperfections. I was tempted to try and change people before changing myself, but I found out that I needed the experience of changing myself first before I could change others. Once I started to change myself, eventually I came to the point where I saw it is caring to respect my own feelings. Not doing so is sort of like letting a crazed slavedriver run my life. At this point, the needs of others aren’t the only thing my Nurturer wants to care for. I realize I must also tend my own feelings to stay strong and healthy.

That’s the secret about empowerment – instead of catering to the whims of others, you can empower the things in others that keep them healthy, that allow them to change and grow. You can stop being a pleaser. So, why would you?

Because the desire in another person to have you please them is unhealthy for both you and the other person. They can benefit from learning to stand strong in themselves, rather than feeding off of the presence of others.

Have I fully learned that lesson yet? No. My Emotional Vampire is still hanging around somewhere, trying to get me to keep people close for MY benefit, not theirs. But I’m wise to it. I know there’s a better way to live, one that doesn’t lower my friends to the level of life-support equipment. And yeah, I can be insensitive and egotistic sometimes as well, even when trying to care for others.

For the Nurturer, it’s hard to claim that fighting is a better alternative to always being kind. But sometimes being tough with people can get past the defensiveness and down to the true issue – it might be insecurity, or fear, or emotional pain. At that point it’s easy to be understanding. In fact, it’s absolutely vital. I don’t think my Nurturer would ever fight with someone who’s down or has no way to fight back. After all, what he’s really fighting for is¬†the end of harm itself, and he’s afraid to create any more harm in the world with his actions. (But it happens)

So, what does your Nurturer do? How will they improve, grow, and change? What do they support in you, and should those things really be questioned? Be careful, because some things, unquestioned, can rule you with extreme cruelty. Good luck out there (or IN there!), and fight on!

Further Reading

Google Results for “People-pleaser”

Recommended Books:

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, by Melody Beattie

And some characters who seem like the nurturer:¬†(yes I know my nurturer has the same hair… but it made sense to draw that way based on the feeling I got from him)

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