When we are hurting, we want to be comforted. We expect that the people in our lives who know us best will know exactly what we need and when we need it. If those needs are not met, we feel betrayed by our uncaring partner (or, we will blame our indifferent Spiritual Power).  We are angry and resentful.

In a desperate attempt to capture feelings of personal security and comfort, we often seek ways to fill up the hole inside ourselves. Most of us unfortunately, seek comfort in all the wrong places. Some of us engage in new relationships – looking for another person to fulfill the loneliness we feel. Others seek comfort in obsessive behaviors such as overspending, compulsive eating, and uncontrollable rehashing of the harms done to us from others.

Instead of waiting for other people and external stimuli to bring us comfort, perhaps the best way to find comfort is to give it to others:

…rather to comfort than to be comforted…

When we are committed to being of service to our partner and to others, we have found that we no longer need the anger and resentments to address our emotional discomfort. As the result of our service towards another we will receive the comfort and strength that are sufficient to accept and address our own hurts in a calm and adaptive way.

Let us contemplate on the opportunities we can find to bring peace and comfort to those we love most. Let us allow ourselves to discuss with others how each of us can be of service to the other. When we are being of service to someone else in pain, the preoccupation with self will soon fall away and we will know the joy of helping others!


This article is our fourth and final article in our series on how to use Step Eleven in our romantic relationships using the “Prayer of St. Francis” as our baseline. The article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book “One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples.”



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    Last reviewed: 3 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Leadem, J. (2013). “…Rather to Comfort than to be Comforted…”. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/couples/2013/02/rather-to-comfort/


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Elaine Leadem, MSW, LCSW & John Leadem, MSW, LCSW are authors of many books, including One in Spirit & An Ounce of Prevention.
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