Living Ubuntu

Caring vs. Caretaking

Who am I really helping? Me or you?

Winter Body Group: Caring vs. Caretaking

“Let me take care of you so that I can get out of uncomfortable feelings
that get triggered when I hear your distress.”

“I have to carry everything. I’m the bottom line. If I don’t fix this, it will not get done.”

“I will make myself essential, so that no one ever leaves me.”

Living Ubuntu Body Group

We all have had times when someone needs help or is in distress. It might be a family member, friend, colleague or total stranger. From somewhere deep within, we are moved to want to help. It brings out the best in us: our heartfelt compassion, generosity, and genuine caring.

Then there are the other times.

We feel annoyed, imposed upon, burdened, overwhelmed, resentful, or even contempt for their weakness and “neediness”.  We help anyway because something has been activated inside us, hooked us in a way that we can’t find the boundaries we need, the permission to say “no” when we really want to.

How does this play out?

  • Sometimes we respond because we feel it is our obligation or duty.
  • Sometimes it is because our anxiety or guilt feelings are just way too strong not to.
  • Sometimes we feel like we are the only responsible one we know, and without us, all hell is going to break loose.
  • Or is it because it makes us feel essential so no one would ever dare leave us?
  • Maybe it's an ego boost.  We feel crappy about ourselves, insecure, inadequate, unsure of what to do in our own life.  Then the phone rings.  Thank goodness, someone who feels even worse!  Helping them seems easy enough, and is a wonderful defense against continuing to feel our own feelings.  Instead, we are once again a shining star, competent, capable, and maybe even just a little bit superior.  (Sigh)... now if only it could last more than a few cherished moments...

We pay a price in these dynamics and much of it shows up in our bodies.

  • Anxiety makes our heart race, chest and diaphragm tight, breathing shallow, stomach knot up, and tension takes over as our shoulders pull up.
  • When we are fixated on “fixing-it”, with all of our energies pulled up into our head thinking, thinking, thinking many fast ever-spinning thoughts, we become deadened or numb in our body.
  • When carrying the world on our shoulders, our bodies begin to feel weighed down by the back-breaking heaviness of it all

We wind up feeling drained, unfulfilled, unappreciated, unloved... and ironically, even more alone. Our ability to experience the warm, pleasurable feelings of genuine care get diminished.  This is what we'll be tackling in this series. 

What will we cover?

In order to better know our wants, needs, the motivations underneath, and how to stay true to our own best interest in a healthy way, this series will emphasize:

  • Grounding.  What does it really mean to be “grounded”?  This will be explained and experienced through various Bioenergetic exercises.
  • Self-expressive body centered methods.  These issues are not just in our minds, but are held within our bodies. As the body lets go of accumulated tensions, it is easier for the mind to follow. By increasing our awareness of what our body feels, we will learn to be more in touch with our own needs and limits, cultivate healthier boundaries, as well as be more in touch with what our genuine motives are in caring or caretaking.
  • Connection with ourselves and others.  We cannot heal alone. Often it is the combination of being connected to our self while also feeling connected to someone else (i.e. a safe witness) that allows us to fully express what we have been holding. It is easier to make changes when we feel support from others.
  • Exploration of belief systems.  Early life experiences, cultural conditioning, stress and trauma influence the way we relate to these issues. We will examine how these internalized messages play out in our lives.

If you have futher questions, please do not hestitate to contact us.  

Presenter, Barbara English LMFT

Barbara EnglishBarbara English is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field. As a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist, she works from a mind-body perspective, and utilizes relational somatic methods as part of the process toward healing and a sense of wellbeing. Much of her training has focused on Early Development, Infant Mental Health, and healing after abuse or trauma. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Living Ubuntu.

Our bodies have much to offer to help us learn healthy boundaries and stay more in touch with our deeper truths... When more of our own needs get met, we wind up having more to give to others in the long run.

Barbara's growing discontent with the limits of private practice, combined with increased awareness of mass trauma as a global epidemic, motivated her to start Living Ubuntu. With an approach that seeks to unite trauma recovery and human rights issues, part of her work includes leading Orange County for Darfur.  She is a 2009 Carl Wilkens Fellow with Genocide Intervention Network.

Dates and location

We will meet for a total of six sessions twice every month on a Sunday afternoon.  Below are the dates.

Sunday, February 12
Sunday, February 26
Sunday, March 11
Sunday, March 25
Sunday, April 15
Sunday, April 29

Orange County, CA
(the address will be sent to all registered participants)

Each session is from 2p – 4:30p.

$25 each session or $120 for all 6 sessions

This is a not-for-profit event.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
If there is any financial hardship to pay, please contact us.

Note: For maximum benefit and group cohesion, we strongly encourage attending all sessions. 


Here are the registration guidelines.

  1. While this group will help participants learn to stay within their own limits, it will nevertheless deal with intense emotional issues.  We would like to have a conversation with you before you register in order to make sure this group is a good match for you. 
  2. To create a safe, secure space, we can accomodate no more than 10 participants.

If you'd like to attend, please get in touch with us.  Simply call us at (949) 891-2005, or send us a message.  Thank you :)


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  Or call us at (949) 891-2005.

Feb - April 2012
Orange County, CA
presented by
Living Ubuntu
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
- Herman Hesse

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Please wear soft, flexible clothing that does not restrict movement. Session content and participation in somatic exercises, while safe and effective, could lead to physical or emotional upset. Each participant needs to stay within their own physical and emotional ability.