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Why Owning Other People’s Problems Robs Them Of Their Sovereignty

When we see our loved ones in pain, our natural instinct is to want to help them.

We may even want to take away their pain, by making their problem our own, and/or trying to solve it for them.

I’m not talking about parenting a young child, when they are still trying to learn about the world. Of course, you need to stop them before they put their pointer finger into that socket or touch that hot stove!

What I’m talking about is taking on the pain of someone you care about, simply because you hate to see them suffer.

If you’re an empath, you already easily tune into how others are feeling. And, if you’re a compassionate one, you will likely feel as if it’s your responsibility to do something about it, simply because you can pick up on it!


I’m talking about when your heart practically wrenches in two when you witness a loved one who’s suffering from:

  • Addiction
  • Fatal illness or trauma
  • Grief
  • Self-inflicted drama
  • Self-sabotage
  • Self-harm
  • Stress, anxiety, or panic attacks
  • Repercussions as a result of decisions made

When you own other people’s problems and make them yours, even if it’s from the goodness of your heart out of pure concern, you rob them of their sovereignty.

Why? Because, everyone has their own journey.

And, part of that journey means making their own choices, and dealing with the consequences of their actions.

Even if you view their choices as wrong, dangerous, or even fatal, the reality is – those choices belong to them. NOT you. It is their life to live in the way they choose, even if you don’t like how they’re doing it.

What happens when we take on a loved one’s pain?

They are robbed of the opportunity to hit rock bottom and be forced to rise up from the ashes, to work it out themselves, by accessing the depths of their soul for new, hidden resources they didn’t know they had, thus creating necessary shifts in their lives to evolve to the next level of their being by empowering themselves.

And, you burden yourself with something that was never yours to begin with, and now you are depleting your precious energy reserves, when you didn’t have to in the first place.

Because, believe it or not, they chose this life.

On a soul level before being incarnated into this lifetime, they made soul contracts with you and others in their soul family to teach each other valuable lessons. And sometimes the lessons can only be realized by going through experiences that turn their world upside down.

So, if a loved one is moving through the grip of addiction, perhaps their lesson is to learn how to surrender to their divine-ness, cultivate connection with themselves, honor their gifts and intuition, remember their worth, or tap into deep self-compassion. And, as a result of having them in your life during this time, perhaps your lesson is to learn how to trust the Uni-verse’s divine timing, autonomy in your personal sovereignty, resolve any codependency within, and to surrender control.

Here’s what you can do instead of owning other people’s problems, which will benefit the both of you:

  1. Connect with them from the heart. Oftentimes, just feeling connection with a compassionate person is all they need to start heading into the right direction. It means the world to feel the presence of someone who cares about your well being. If you have any gifts that you could share with them – perhaps you could play a song for them if you’re a musician, create art with them or for them if you’re a painter or other artist, or give them some healing juju if you practice a healing modality. Even sharing experiences together such as reading with them, watching a film with them by a director they love, or just taking them out to enjoy a meal and good conversation is helpful towards helping them feel less alone, and thus, more connected. The illusion of disconnection is powerful. But, heart energy, both cultivated within and exchanged with others, decimates it.
  2. Offer your your support. Help them find venues and resources to give them tools to work through their pain, so they can get the help they need.
  3. Be a source of light, not their savior. Make sure to check your savior complex at the door, otherwise, you will be one fatigued and resentful savior by the end of it! And, your loved one may grow to be resentful or codependent on you, which is not what you’re going for. Instead, gently shine so they get curious about how to shine, too.
  4. Reinforce healthy boundaries. You will BOTH need this! Your loved one may not have the wherewithal or mental bandwidth to create it for themselves, so make sure that you are offering only what you can offer that honors you both. And, if you ever feel like you are overextending yourself, check in with yourself and make sure that you are doing what you can, but not at the expense of your own health. If your loved one is bordering on being toxic, some helpful energetic protection practices can be helpful. You may also want to be mindful about how you spend your time with them, so you can give yourself an opportunity to be present with them fully, but you can also give yourself time to rejuvenate and take care of your own needs.
  5. Up your self-care. Be observant if you begin to notice that you’re starting to lose sleep, getting shortness of breath, getting unduly stressed or anxious about the situation, feeling drained, or your regular routine is being effected as a result. If this is happening, give yourself what you need to rejuvenate and replenish. Not only is it good self-care, but you can only help those you love when your own reserves are full!

Have you ever been pulled to own someone else’s pain? 
What helped you move through it with ease and grace?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments, below!

With love,


Copyright © 2016 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

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