How many times have you told someone you care, or someone says that to you? A bunch I would guess. What the heck does that mean? So let's get to the truth. Caring and understanding are often times confused. To understand something means you comprehend it. We discussed that in my last blog post. To care means you are displaying kindness and concern for others; the work or practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves, especially sick and elderly people. Let me tell you a short story from one of my books. I used to date a girl some time back. We saw quite of bit of each other. Her girlfriend came down with a terminal illness. One that would take her quickly. That girl cared for her best friend every day after work and weekends. Slept there every night until her friend passed. We saw very little of each other during this time frame of about 2 months, and that was on;y if I went there to help. We didn't stay together long after her friend passed. She needed time. So here is a story that shows both understanding and caring. I cared because I understood and helped when I could during the time she was helping her friend. I also understood when we broke up that she needed time and space. See the difference?
Caring is something that for most, is given to specific people in your life. Best friends, family, your partner or children. The rest, are just things you know or hear about but don't necessarily get involved with. Things like volunteering for special functions, getting involved in a cause for something you support. There are those that do care to that level. They get involved with volunteering for things such as Special Olympics, programs for the Elderly etc. Does this mean they care more then you? Absolutely not. Like understanding, caring also has it's limits. It's also different because it involves other factors such as personal time. Time you may not have after you take care of yourself and other life issues. When people tell other they care, physiologically, they are setting up the other person, who has the need, with an expectation. It's automatic. That person now feels they can go to the other. So what you said as a comforting courtesy, may have now turned into an obligation.
What phrases do we just throw out there? How many times when something happens to someone you might say, "Call me, let me know if you need anything." Or sayings such things as,"I'm here for you." Are you? Can you? Will you be? Although most do not take people up on those offers because they realize it's said out of courtesy, but I can tell many times where people have, and have been disappointed. We say these often times because we don't know what else to say. We want to offer some comfort. That's admirable because you care about someone else. However, if your not prepared to follow through, you should find another way of expressing your sympathy for their issue. Many a friendship has ended over this exact example. How many times have you said to yourself, "They don't give a shit." Well, why wouldn't you? Whoever said something to you set you that caused you to have an expectation, they didn't follow through with. I would bet there are many more that have experienced this exact issue rather than those who have not.
So what's the answer? It's simple. Think about what you say, and what you are willing to do before you say it. Not a hard concept to learn. Know how to say what are saying, and how to say it. How it could be interpreted or perceived by others. Keep in mind, this is usually a very volatile time for people. A wise man once said, "It's not what you think that counts, it's what you make others think that matters." - CJR There you have it. The difference between caring and understanding can effect your life and well as others. -CJR