Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!
I was watching ABC’s Nightline last night and saw Cynthia McFadden interview Ashton Kutcher. If you’ve followed Kutcher’s career aside from the movies and television production, you’d know a lot about his commitment to using social media. He’s one of the most prolific social media celebrities in the world.
One of the things I particularly enjoy is the background story of these noteworthy individuals. We all know about his rise to stardom from modeling and That 70’s show, but how many know about his personal life? This is why these types of interviews are important; they show him as a real person not some Hollywood concoction of good look and money.
Did you know that Ashton Kutcher had a twin? Did you know that his twin brother was born with Cerebral Palsy and a heart condition? Did you know that his brother Michael needed a heart transplant at age 13? Well now you know and more importantly it’s his life experience that I want to shine a light on today.
During the interview McFadden asked Kutcher about his relationship with his brother and the guilt he felt having not only a brother, but a twin with health challenges. Aside from the guilt there’s always the feeling of pity that enters the picture, but during their talks, Kutcher’s brother Michael said something profound, he said, “Don’t feel sorry for me because it make me feel less than”. These are phenomenal words of wisdom.
This is one of those times when I’m going to ask you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I feel sorry for the person I’m caring for?” It’s a common human emotion and if you’ve listened to as many stories about health challenges as I have over the past twenty-four years then you’d know that pity and feeling sorry comes up a lot in the dialogues.
What if you didn’t feel sorry for the person with the illness? What if by relieving yourself of feeling sorry you were also releasing the patient from feeling less than? It makes sense that when you feel less than you feel helpless and hopeless short-circuiting the healing powers of the body. So how can you abandon feeling sorry for the other person?
The other part about abandoning feeling sorry for the person you’re caring for is the freedom you’ll experience. When you don’t feel sorry or pity for the other person you can be more present with them. You’re relationship will improve because it’s not about having an unequal balance of perceived power (your health). It’s not about feeling superior because you’re healthy. It’s about being healthy and with that health partnering with the patient to live with the most quality of life possible.
We think of Ashton Kutcher as this movie star, but I think of him as a guy who has had extraordinary life experiences with health issues and has used these pearls of wisdom to become a more empathic human being. His devotion to humanitarian causes is proof of this empathy.