The Nurturer is the archetypal mother, provider, and caregiver. You love to look after others, and offer your home, time, and arms open to anyone in need. You always notice those ‘outside’, and welcome them with love and openness. Your caring nature knows no bounds.
You are compassionate, and have immense empathy for others. Your reaction to difficult people and situations is to love them through it. You are inclusive, generous to a fault, and find it difficult to say ‘no’ to people. This is often your downfall, as you tend to give too much of your time and energy to others. Leaving little for yourself.
Your big life lesson is to realise that you must love yourself first. To make sure that you are whole, healthy, and happy, before you can begin to help others. This may sound ‘selfish’ at first, but everything begins with self love. And self love is not selfish, it is the foundation of all love. In fact, you cannot truly love others until you love yourself.
When the Nurturer doesn’t practice self love, a hole develops within. The healthy Nurturer places self care high on their agenda. They have firm boundaries, and give what they can in the moment, while making sure their own needs are met.
Your Nurturer Gifts
Care-Giving: You are the archetypal caregiver and nurture of all the earth’s creatures. Friends, family, children, strangers, animals, the environment; you want to care for everyone. People know that they can rely on you as a shoulder to cry on. You give of yourself freely, and care for the people without thought for yourself.
Creating Community: Your whole demeanour is one of openness and love. For this reason you excel at creating safe spaces where everyone feels welcome. You reach out to loners and those on the fringes of social groups, as if they are old friends. People may joke that you’re always picking up ‘stragglers’. And you may have some quite unusual relationships because of your ability to be inclusive to all. You offer care to those based on need, and nothing else. You are the glue that keeps family, friendship groups, and communities together.
Compassion: Your caring nature comes from your well-spring of empathy and compassion for others. You feel other peoples pain, and will do anything within your power to relieve it.
Generosity: You are generous to a fault, willing to give the very clothes off your back if you think it will help. You are not materialistic. Your life is centred on your relationships with others. And you give freely of your possessions, money, time, and knowledge.
Your Nurturer Shadow
Inability to say ‘No’: Your self esteem is so caught up in your role as caregiver that you often find it hard to say ‘no’. But, when you give so much of yourself it leads (at best) to burn out, and (at worst) to people walking all over you. To be whole, healthy, and happy, you must learn to put your own needs first. All of us need firm boundaries to maintain our well-being. When you are able to say ‘no’, you can help more people, and save yourself from feeling resentful or burnt out.
Smothering: You yearn to care for others. And may sometimes project this onto people who don’t need or want your help. This can manifest as smothering, where you try to force people to receive your nurturing. The big (and often difficult) lesson of the Nurturer, is knowing when to let go. Paradoxically, you know that your ‘job’ has been a success when those you care for no longer need it. Once the times comes it’s important for you to recognise it. Let them go gracefully, and to turn your care-giving gaze towards others who need it.
Suffering Martyr: Many Nurturers spend their lives giving so much to others that they forget to pay attention to their own needs. This can lead to low self esteem, and a difficulty with receiving or saying ‘no’. Eventually this leads to burn out. To fill this ‘hole’ you may find yourself using guilt or obligation to get others to do things for you. This creates a vicious circle where everyone is doing things to please other people, and no one is getting what they actually need. To avoid this you must learn to set boundaries and replenish your own energy stores regularly. This allows you to help others without demanding anything in return. Giving too much, and then expecting others to fill the gap isn’t fair or realistic.
Cravings: The self love ‘hole’ that we mentioned can create a feeling of emptiness. The Nurturer may try to fill it with food, or constant stimulation in the form of talking and television. What the real problem here is a lack of self care and love. Make sure you take time to do things for yourself, and receive the care you so richly deserve. This is the root cause of many of the Nurturers ‘problems’ so make self love a way of life.
Enabling: You always look for the best in people. So much that you often ignore negative behaviours that need changing. Things like overeating, overspending, addictions, irresponsibility, and even abuse. Your tendency in these situations is to ignore the problem. Instead of facing the problem, you continue caring for the person. This enables them to continue with their destructive patterns, without facing the consequences. Although you think you are caring for them, you are helping them to destroy themselves.
This can also go the other way. We see many Nurturers putting up with abusive behaviours. Either denying or reducing the seriousness of the situation. When you accept the negative behaviours of others you give them license to continue. But they must face their negative behaviour so that they can develop into a better person. This often calls for some tough love on your part, but it is so important. Otherwise you will be creating a monster that is a risk to themselves and others.
Guilt Tripping or Guilt Ridden: Your tendency to give too much, leaves you with little or nothing for yourself. But this hole must be filled somehow. And if you are unable to fill it yourself, you may be tempted to guilt trip others into filling for you. You will also likely feel guilt ridden for not being ‘full enough’ to give others as much as you would like.
Your Nurturer’s Journey
Conscious Choice: There is an unlimited need in the world for care. And as limited beings we are unable to help everyone. At first you may try to shake responsibility for this choice, and respond to everyone all at once. But this will leave you exhausted, burnt out, and depressed. Eventually your Nurturer will begin to manifest in it’s shadow form. And you will begin to rely more and more on others.
The way to grow beyond the shadow Nurturer is to better discern who to nurture and who not to. When to offer care, and when to look after yourself instead. The Nurturer is the final stage of healthy Ego development in the archetypal journey. To complete this test you must learn to give full what you have int he moment, while honouring your own limits. Learning to say ‘no’ to people is vital, and this requires a strong sense of self esteem and self love. You don’t have to always say ‘yes’ so that people will ‘like you’. When you are able to love yourself first, you will act from a place of strength, wholeness and love.
Full Circle: A big blow comes to the Nurturer when their children leave home. This requires you to face some harsh truths about their independence beyond your care-giving. This transition may bring up some anxieties about your perceived failings as a Nurturer. And you may find yourself holding on, trying to regain a role that has come to it’s natural end.
This time also helps you to understand your own parents better. It allows you to see your own parents as normal people (damaged and wounded in their own right). Once you accept the frailties of your own parents, you can let go of needing to be a super parent yourself. And let your own children go with grace and blessings.
Ways to Grow
Boundaries: You find it difficult to create firm boundary’s. Yet, they are so important if you are to protect your energy stores and continue to Nurture others. This lack of boundaries will draw out the shadow sides of others, and you may fall pray to their negativity. You must protect your own sacred space. No one else can do this for you.
You must learn to protect yourself with firm boundaries around what is OK and what is not OK for you. Whether it’s people inviting themselves over to your home. Taking food from your plate. ‘Borrowing’ things and not giving them back. Or simply demanding too much of your time and attention. All of these things are an affront to your personal integrity. Make a promise to form strong boundaries that support your growth and development. Then enforce them without question or guilt. When you do this you act as an example for other Nurturers who need to learn this vital lesson.
Care for your Inner Child: Caring for others is at the core of who you are, but don’t forget about your own inner child. That part of yourself that is in dire need of your love and attention. If you didn’t receive much love or emotional support as a child your inner child will need you more than ever. Take time to love yourself through play, self care, and doing things for the joy of them. Remember, love starts with the self and moves outward. And the more you love yourself the more you can love others.
Positive Martyr: Become a positive martyr by learning to share your gifts with the world. This may require you to sacrifice those parts of your Ego that ‘need to be needed’. Accept the call to honour your true calling instead of hiding behind your need to care for others. What gifts and talents do you feel inside yourself that are bursting to get out. When you explore your inner realm you will unlock treasures that can nurture the whole world.