“No one can ever be fully prepared for the challenges of care- giving. The tasks and responsibilities involved can be demanding, even more so when caregivers themselves are frail, have been thrust into their role unexpectedly or reluctantly, or must care for someone who is uncooperative or combative.” – The Merck Manual of Health and Healing, p. 177
Caregivers may face overwhelming physical, financial, and emotional demands as a function of their service. This article addresses the psychological and spiritual aspect of being in a caregiver role, and presents some ideas for self-care and empowerment. As we help and heal ourselves, we are better suited to help others.
Make your communications from “I” rather than “You”
“I feel worried that you will fall” vs. “You make me worry that you will fall”
“I don’t agree with what you are saying” vs. “You are lying!”
In other words, use sentences that communicate the reality of your experience. Statements that begin with “I” usually communicate feelings that belong to you and only you.
Reframe hostile communications
“You are no good! You never help me!”
Reframed: “What I hear you saying is that you feel I am not helping you”
And check in, “Is this accurate? Is that what you meant to say?”
You spot it, you got it
Often times the things that bother us the most about another person are the things that bother us about ourselves. When people make blaming statement such as “You are so selfish” or “You are so needy”, they are telling you something about themselves that makes them uncomfortable. By looking inside we can truly understand the cause of the suffering.
You spot it, you got it (and sometimes you don’t)
Sometimes the thing that bothers us the most about another person is something we “would never ever do”. The person we are in conflict with is a teacher, showing us the parts of ourselves that we may deem as ugly. This is a calling for balance. This is a calling for that ugly part to show it’s face just a little.
There is No One Good Cup of Coffee
What is a good cup of coffee? Cream and sugar? Black? Sugar only? Cream only? There is no “reality” to a “good cup of coffee”. This can only be defined by the drinker. Your reality belongs to you. Other’s reality belongs to them. Neither reality is “right” or “wrong”. We simply interpret things based on our own values.
There are a number of books and theories on the topic of Compassionate Communication (see references at the end of this article)
Jill Sarah Moscowitz
References and Books
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life?by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey to the Heart of Dispute Resolution by Kenneth Cloke