CAREGIVER HEALTH & WELLNESS: Is Self Awareness The Answer To Self Care?
August 16, 2017 | La Shawn Splane- Wilburn, Founder of HOMAGI
"Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment." - Lao Tzu
Ask a caregiver what upsets their loved one and they can rattle off a list of don'ts with extreme precision, without a stumble. There is a sense of pride in us that we are just that "in tune" with the needs of our loved one(s).
Without pulling out the calendar most of us know when the last doctors appointment was, how much they weighed, what their blood pressure reading was, and some of us know what we fed them for breakfast that very morning of the doctors appointment.
There is this eerie sense of pride in knowing and remembering every detail of a loved ones care and needs. I've been in a group of caregivers discussing the "perils of care", and watched in awe how it resembles new parents speaking proudly about the milestones of their children because of course the more details they know the more capable and loyal they are.
Ask a caregiver what makes them happy and you can shut a room down!
Sometimes there is a sadness that immediately rushes over the caregiver before they squeeze out, "knowing that I'm providing the best care for them..."
If you press for the caregiver to go deeper the response may change to sadness and tears may flow because caregivers have a tendency to neglect their needs and desires and they allow others to treat them that way as well. We even justify it, "I have so much to do that I don't really stop and think about what I need...it would just complicate things because I know I can't stop to think about that, there's no time or room for it."
If you can't put into words what you need for YOU then you can't possibly know what makes you happy, what you need or what changes are necessary to have and maintain the life you desire. We need to know ourselves to know what we need.
Finding What Makes You...You
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." We know the famous Dr. Seuss quote and wouldn't it be lovely if knowing ourselves was that simple?
Not all caregivers are so immersed in care that they neglect themselves but it is more common than not. Taking the extra steps and doing the extra work to find out who we are, to have an awareness of what makes us truly happy means lots of work for some of us. Work that doesn't just happen overnight or without resistance from ourselves and sometimes those in our family, friends and loved ones we care for.
What is Self Awareness? According to Daniel Goldman in his book, "Emotional Intelligence", self awareness is, "knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”.
Jessie Zhu, Positive Psychologist, simplifies it in her article, "Why Self Awareness Matters And How You Can Be More Self Aware" writing, "This definition places more emphasis on the ability to monitor our inner world, our thoughts and emotions as they arise."
Going inside of ourselves takes time and patience, something that many of us caregivers never make a priority, taking time to be still with our thoughts. Running non stop all of the time allows us to run away from what we are truly feeling. It did for me.
So much more was going on in my life that was causing me distress and there was an urging of my soul to move on through healing in other parts of my life, but latching on to my caregiver role gave me refuge, a place to tuck myself safely into "busyness" and not address my unhappiness.
That wasn't something I could face without emotional investment and consequences. Accountability isn't something we want to pile on top of all else we are "barely getting through".
Self awareness isn't an easy task it takes time, patience and brutal honesty. We cannot address our issues if we aren't willing to face we have issues.
Here are some questions to help you get started in filtering through who you are:
Am I content with my life? Not are you content being a caregiver, are you content with being you?
Why are you content or not content?
What are you hiding behind caregiving?
What's missing in your life?
Am I Codependent?
What is your contribution to a codependent relationship if there is one?
What are my addictions? Am I overeating, over drinking, over sexing, over drugging? What is my vice to get me through my denial of me?
What can I change right now? Like what if right now you could have one honest confession about you because just admitting one thing about what needs addressing is a start and an accomplishment. Pick one thing you want to change that's small and manageable and work on that. Drinking more water today? That's "do-able".
Some things must be done in what Lisa Nichols describes as "micro goals" in her YouTube video, "Disempower Your Negative Thoughts". Lisa explained how creating and achieving micro goals are important in building our confidence and "muscles" for the macro goals. In other words we can do many small things for ourselves building up our awareness and confidence with each mastery.
I will be doing some exercises that have helped me in my online Caregiver support group " Care-FULLY "
Stop by and contribute what has or is working for you too I would love to hear your story.
Care-FULLY is an online support group and community for Mental Health Family Caregivers. Join today and start getting the support and freedom to discuss those things only other caregivers may understand: