Posted in Caregiving

C-A-R-E-G-I-V-E-R Part 4

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

We’ve been exploring the roles and characteristics of caregivers.  Did you realize how diverse and complex you are as a caregiver?  It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion.  Caregiving often reveals parts of yourself you never knew existed or you knew were there but haven’t been conscious for some time.  Bringing these characteristics to the foreground allows you to acknowledge, validate, and celebrate your gifts, talents, and attributes.  It’s often unfortunate that many don’t realize these gifts until someone becomes ill and you step into the caregiver role; but you’re doing it now and that’s what counts.

E is for Egoless

We live in a world that if often focused on the individual.  We’re socialized to look out for number one and do whatever it takes to come out on top.  I took a training once where someone got up and said, “You know what EGO stands for?  It stands for Edging God Out”.  I took that to heart and have carefully considered when my ego was getting in the way of making good decisions and proper judgments on any and all situations.  It’s difficult to do and takes a lot of practice, but it’s possible.

Caregiving seems to allow you to abandon the ego because caregiving, unless you’re a martyr, isn’t about you.  It’s not about looking good to others.  It’s not about being the best, the brightest, or the most successful.  Caregiving is a heartfelt and heart driven experience.  Unless you’re a professional caregiver (and some are driven strictly by the heart) you’re devotion and commitment to the caregiving process is egoless.  You, as a caregiver, are committed to helping, assisting, and partnering with someone who is ill or injured because you have a relationships and it’s part of the moral contract.  It’s a heart contract.

I know it’s difficult to abandon the ego while caregiving, but you shouldn’t think about it as abandoning.  Actually, I hope your ego is expanding within your own heart and soul.  As you have new experiences it will serve as a catalyst and stir up emotions, thoughts, and ideas in your mind and your soul.  I hope you take these opportunities to expand who you are as a person allowing the caregiving experience to be a springboard for your own personal expansion.

I’d love to hear about how of if you experience egolessness and the impact it has on your caregiving experience.

Posted in after the diagnosis, Caregiving, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Integrity, Living with Illness

Caregiving and Identity

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!

Prior to becoming a caregiver did you really have a sense of your identity?  I know many woman who have been mothers talk about being the chauffeur, chef, organizer, etc. and those are the roles that are incorporated into being a mother.  Identity plays an important role in our daily lives.  It’s often the way many of us define ourselves and base our actions on those roles.  When someone you love gets an illness diagnosis you’re already playing many roles and then you get hit with caregiver.

Think about what it means to be a caregiver aside from the obvious.  The roles whether you’re a woman or a man are very similiar.  The roles include, spouse/partner, friend, confidant, chauffeur, chef, housekeeper, entertainer, cheerleader, advocate, nurse, just to name a few.  If exhausted reading the list, think about the exhaustion you feel on a daily basis.

I have a personal note to share and my hope is that you’ll avoid doing things the way I’ve done them.  I used to (notice the past tense) do things the hard way.  I would take the long road, the difficult road the tiring road and then share my experiences.  One day my therapist turned and asked me why I was willing to wear struggle as a badge of courage.  That stopped me in my tracks and decided that’s not the role I wanted to play and I worked hard to change that role.

Our identities are what we cling to because we believe they define us.  In reality, what defines us is knowing, understanding and believing that the roles we take we do out of love and often need.  We assume the various roles as a declaration of compassion.  We assume these roles because that’s what we’re made of, the desire to reduce suffering and pain while allowing someone facing a health challenge to maintain their dignity.

Taking on the role of self-preserver is not a bad thing.  Finding ways to acquire respite care shows how in touch you are with the caregiving process.  Indulging in a special treat for your hard work is not different than rewarding yourself for any other achievement in your life…it’s about self-loving tender kindness.  It’s about discarding the “shoulds” and living with the “this is what I’m capable of”; that doesn’t show lack that show understanding and integrity.  Understanding your limits is a strength not a weakness.

When going through the list of roles expand upon your identity.  Don’t only focus on the action, but the intention or the message you’re sending to the care recipient through your actions.  Consider the qualities it takes in you to fulfill the roles that make up your identity as a caregiver.  You’ll be surprised at the life affirming realizations you make when you go a bit deeper than simply stating your a caregiver.

How do you deal with you caregiver identity?  How has it changed your life?  We’d love to hear how you are managing your life as a caregiver.

I’ve launched a new site that will have short videos packed with information.  Go to http://www.survivingstrongtv.com.  Let me know what you think, new videos will be put up every Sunday.