在設定健康界限的同時,我該如何向母親慈悲的心?


3

我希望你一切都好。

我學習佛教已經有幾個月了,我非常感謝這些教義。我經常訪問該網站以詢問類似問題,這是我第一次接觸該社區。

自從我把佛教習俗帶入我的生活以來,我的關係得到了改善,特別是與母親的關係。但是,我發現在我目前正在遭受的痛苦中,導航對我自己和母親最有幫助或技巧的舉動很難。我母親的一些背景:她有自戀傾向,從我小時候起就依靠我和兄弟姐妹滿足我的情感需求,尤其是在遭受苦難的時候。

我現在20歲,與我分享的關係比一年前更加健康,因為在我開始學習佛教之前,我一直在努力了解自己和他人的苦難。我的母親正與前未婚夫分手,我是她在我們家庭中唯一與她分享的人(我和她以及我17歲的小兄弟姐妹住在一起)。在與我分享她對此的感受並依靠我的肩膀時,她開始分享她對我父親和他的家人不滿意的事情(前未婚夫和我父親是不同的人)。

我了解界限的重要性,並且不確定在這段時間內如何向她伸出同情心的聲音,同時告知我不能成為她的治療師。我認識到,每個人都在照顧自己的痛苦,減輕別人的痛苦不是您的責任,只有他們能做到。我想以一種健康的方式與她分享同情心,因為我們的過去沒有國界,而且我感到她的情感是我的責任。

換句話說,我想盡她所能,以對我們倆最健康,最熟練的方式來支持她。怎麼會這樣呢?我感謝所有評論和建議,如果您願意,我很樂意進一步詳細介紹。謝謝閱讀。

1

I cannot be a therapist for her.

Why not? A professional secular therapist is trained to be client-centred. It is mostly about: (i) listening; (ii) acknowledging; (iii) when the time is right, asking the client about how they feel and what might possibly be their reasons for feeling that way; & (iv), when the time is right, asking the client what options or solutions they have considered to resolve their situation.

If fact, my sister just phoned me now about our mother, who we consider also has narcissistic tendencies, thus is very difficult to help. With our mother, she has so much pride, stubbornness & 'saving face'. I was saying how I wish our mother could communicate with me better. To be able to communicate more intimately with our mothers I think is a good thing. (My mother is 82 years old).

But you are 20 years old thus this could be more challenging for you. When I was 20 years old, I personally was 'clueless'. However, I am much older now and I have counselled or carried a few ladies through their dark times. I am confident in doing this because i have some experience.

I recognise that everyone is in care of their own suffering and that you cannot alleviate the suffering of someone else, only they can do that.

The Buddha never taught all individuals will be able to alleviate suffering. Most people rely on the companionship of others. These people, the Buddha called "puthujjana' or 'ordinary people' and 'householders'.

I would like to give compassion to her but I'm not sure how to go about that in a healthy way for both of us as our past had no boundaries, and I had felt that her emotions were my responsibility.

Her emotions are not your responsibility however you can offer to listen to her and to support her. While you are only 20 years old and may feel burdened by such a situation & responsibility, your mother probably sacrificed much for you; thus your time to support her may have come too early for you. But the Buddha taught, as children, we must support our parents, when they are in need, as they supported us, when we were children in need of love & care.

While sharing with me her feelings about this and having my shoulder to lean on, I recognised the suffering she is experiencing is tied with a struggle with her identity and past relationships (my father).

The above is to be expected. When a woman has a husband with whom she has children with, often this family unit is a strong source of identity. Keep in mind, mother carried each child for nine months in her womb & then birthed them. If a mother did not have such identity, she could neglect the welfare of her children/offspring. Thus, in Buddhism, it is right view to understand there exists 'mother & father' for the maintenance of human life. This is why divorce causes confusion & suffering for many.

My mother is in the midst of a break up with her ex-fiancé

As I inferred above, often, it can be difficult for a woman/wife/mother to feel comfortable marrying again. Often, they attempt to marry again due to loneliness & insecurity, which is not really the right reason to get married. Therefore, if your mother feels insecure in her aloneness, knowing you will be there for her to support her can make her feel more comfortable.

As said, we should not really have the expectation she can be like a Buddhist nun and get enlightened. Generally, certain individuals are born with a capacity for self-reliance and it is only these fewer individuals who can walk the Buddha's Path.

I am not sure how to lend a compassionate ear for her during this time

It is difficult & frustrating to listen to people's problems if you don't understand any solutions to such problems. In this situation, the listener can also feel lost & particularly burdened.

The Buddha taught about marriage and the mutual qualities two people should ideally share for a lasting marriage. If your mother feels insecure, desperate or humiliated (lacking in self-image; self-esteem) due to not being married, it can be helpful to understand what the Buddha taught about finding a suitable partner. Having such knowledge can overcome the feeling of being burdened when listening to the suffering & confusion of another. If the listener can remain unconfused, then the listener can also feel unburdened.

Such advice about marriage can be found in the following teachings:

Understanding/comprehending the above teachings can not only help a person find a suitable compatible marriage partner but can also help a person understand the reasons why their (past) unsuccessful marriage went wrong.


2

There is affective empathy - feeling what the another is going through, and cognitive empathy - understanding what another is going through.

The former weighs you down and offers solace but no solutions, the latter is (a sometimes seemingly cold) 'What happened? Where are you now and do you want to be there? How do you move from here (if you want to)'.

If your mother can answer those questions with respect to her problems, herself, then she has everything she needs to, to get out of those problems. (she may want more than that from you, but that is in short, craving, and won't help her towards her goals)

If she doesn't, she needs to find those answers, by herself or with the help of others.

I think the Buddhist way to say it is have compassion - feel for, but not with the other. Offer your notion of solutions, but don't carry her burden.


0

I want to do what I can to support her during her suffering in the most healthy and skilful way for both of us. How would one go about this?

Obviously there's no quick and easy answer for this. But notice the advice the Buddha gave so that you have a direction toward whatever approach you choose to help with the situation:

"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father." ~~ AN 2.31 ~~