Beyond Surviving to Thriving

Beyond Surviving to Thriving

Increase Resilience and Purpose to Help Others More Sustainably

Helping others can feel like being tossed around in a boat during a storm at sea. We say kind words only to get a rude response. Or someone responds with a smile and enthusiastic “Thank you!” We fall in bed at night, but the next day someone tells us we have increased responsibilities. We offer a helpful strategy that once again gets ignored. Winds push us in all directions while the joys and challenges, like waves, leave us bobbing up and down.

People in helping roles experience the best and worst the world has to offer. We hold others during difficult times, while manifesting hope even when it is hard to see. We family caregivers, human and veterinary healthcare providers, first responders, educators, social workers, non-profit leaders, and other helpers bring much needed care into the world. How do we take on such a valiant journey sustainably when there is so much brokenness and need?

Clear purpose balanced with self-care fuels determination and provides valuable guidance on the caregiving journey. As the philosopher Seneca noted, “If one doesn’t know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” Reasons why we help others can inform how to do so in ways that promote effective caring and balanced living.  We can rely on core values and purpose to guide our responses rather than other people’s anxieties, responses, or assumptions. Strategies to clarify a balanced purpose include:

  1. Thoughtfully consider and write down beliefs, values, and important virtues. We often think we know what these are, but until we write them down they remain on the periphery of our thinking rather than at the center of decision making. Tease through outside influences to determine what you believe. Take time, but pay attention to what first comes to mind.
  1. Develop a purpose statement that helps you remember core beliefs, values, and virtues. Edit and rework to make a one sentence statement easy to memorize. Be creative by using a metaphor or acronym. For example, the statement “I will bring HOPE into the world” can mean “I will bring healing, openness, peace, and equality into the world.” Your purpose statement only needs to remind you what is important and inspire you. It should apply to every context and stage of life.
  1. Make sure your statement is balanced to promote self-care. It is too easy to put off our own needs and offer others help when there is so much need. However, balance in our own lives is vital for sustainable caring. Self-care is not selfish. It promotes effective caring and resilience for facing challenges. Re-word your statement so it reminds you to take care of yourself as well as others.
  1. Know and apply purpose and core values to daily life. Place a framed copy on your desk, put on the background of your phone, write a note to yourself, and read every day. Memorize your purpose statement so core values inform responses even when anxiety tries to create chaos.

Balanced purpose helps us move forward on the helping journey even when facing winds and waves. We can discern between favorable and distracting winds. The sea becomes calm enough for self-care. Our core values, direct how we help rather than anxieties trying to push us off course. As we strengthen this part of who we are, we find the courage to establish healthy boundaries, deal with conflict, and recover from loss. We can experience the joys of our own lives even while helping others face challenges.

Karen Schuder, EdD, MDiv, MAM, has extensive experience promoting resilience and role sustainability through public speaking and coaching. Years of helping people during traumatic times, leading organizations, and working globally inform her work with people in personal and professional helping roles. Karen offers life-changing concepts and practical strategies with an enjoyable, interactive approach. Her book, Resilient and Sustainable Caring: Your Guide to Thrive While Helping Others is available on Amazon.

Learn more about Karen’s work to foster a purpose driven culture characterized by resilience, positivity, and decreased anxiety at



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