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One of the tips my dog trainer gave me was to make the distinction between coddling and cuddling.

Coddling: If your pup is agitated, scared or anxious, acknowledge it. But don’t respond by reflecting that same energy. Don’t go into a downward spiral of “oh poor baby, what’s the matter, I will protect you.” Acknowledge her, and keep elevated. Tell her she’s okay and you keep calm to raise her energy back to calm, submissive and centered.

Cuddling is of course, showing love and affection without any drama or self-induced emotion. Cuddling is neutral and empowered.

I thought easy enough, I get it.

Then I was tested.

My dad came to visit and my pup got stuck in a hole. It’s a walled-off decorative element to our pool where the filter line runs. The wall is high and the hole is deep, filled with prickly bushes. And the look on her face peering over the wall was, “HELP! I’m in here and I can’t get out!”

I started walking around to scale the wall and rescue her, when my dad shouted from the other side, “You got yourself in there, now get yourself out.”

And before I took another step, she got herself out and was back to her curious self chasing a lizard.

I coddled. Dad cuddled & empowered.

Coddling: what seems like real compassion is actually a big energetic imbalance that allows you to be the savior and leaves the other party disempowered.

Where might you be coddling someone in your life? Feeling like you need to be the hero in rescue mode, or unconsciously holding the space that allows them to stay stuck?

Next time you see them stuck or suffering, empower them with a little radical candor, "you got yourself in this mess, and you can get yourself out."