I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. ~ Mother Teresa
As family caregivers we are often put in a position where we have to choose between what’s good for ourselves and what is good for the person for whom we are caring. If you are a caregiver like me (and I bet you are), you are always putting the needs of your caree first. Placing someone’s else’s needs in front of your own can be difficult for some people to understand, but not for the caregiver. In our me first society, and in many business circles, decisions like this are frowned on and often not understood.
To be a healthy caregiver, we have to learn how to live life in the solutions of our caregiving experience, not solely in the problems of our caregiving experience. By living a life focused on solutions, we live our life with clarity, hope and love. When we focus solely on problems, we live in fear, worry and despair. Focusing on solutions is not only a healthy mindset for family caregivers, it is a healthy mindset for everyone.
I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. After almost 10 years of caregiving, I started to focus more on the problem, not the solutions. By focusing only on the problems, I lost myself and just created more problems in return. Losing yourself complicates caregiving. While the love for your caree is strong and sealed, you have to love yourself first in order to solidify your inner peace and purpose. Your life can’t be that of your caree’s!
The price of caregiving is not fixed, it is different for everyone. But if you don’t recognize the personal cost in caregiving, you can lose yourself in the process, and that cost is priceless. What are the signs of losing yourself? Weight gain, loss of focus/clarity, financial stress, spiritual uncertainty, your own purpose, professional satisfaction and detachment to name a few.
Yet what we might ask ourselves is:
Are we always looking at the problem and not the solution?
While I do not intend to lose focus on the care of ‘The Little One‘, I am starting to refocus on caring for myself. This has been a revelation of sorts because ‘The Little One’ has been asking me (telling, demanding, requesting, you get the picture) to take better care of myself. Yet immersed in this care and unwilling to listen, reality has come full force. How can I be a good caregiver, if I can’t take better care of myself?
Eat Less. Move More
Focus on Solutions. Not Problems
Never quit caring. Especially for yourself
You see…We might have Cancer…
but Cancer does not have us!