By Bernadette A. Moyer
Caregiving begins with self-care; we have to care for ourselves before we can care for others. Just like when we are on an airplane and instructed that if necessary administer the oxygen mask to you first even before administering to an infant child.
For many of us mothers our natural inclination is to look out for the infant first. But in this case, in an emergency situation we are no good in caregiving to others if we haven’t first taken care of ourselves.
We have to know our limits in handling the care of others. It can be exhausting it can run us down; it might not be what we are good at or intended to do. Not every person is a nurse, or a doctor or social worker. When we don’t have the care to give, when our own cup is empty and we have nothing else to offer others we ourselves run into trouble.
There is no shame in knowing what you are capable of and what you indeed can and cannot handle. If you don’t have the money, you would acknowledge you can’t afford it. The same is true for caregiving. If you don’t have it to give, you don’t have it to give, period.
Anger and frustrations are often born out of trying to do something that is beyond our ability to do for someone else. Protect your boundaries; protect your sanity say “no” with compassion. Know your limits!
Some people will drain the life out of you, but only if you let them, if you do, you are a participant too. If a loved ones needs something and you don’t have it to give to them, help by pointing them in the right direction. Perhaps they just need encouragement to do it for themselves or maybe they needed a larger support system.
Many years ago a very dear friend was anxious and running around after his father became ill and was hospitalized. He was so worked up that he had a heart attack and died. His father who was already in the hospital was receiving the care that he needed. Sometimes others who are trying to help and be supportive are operating with less than necessary.
My mother was a masters educated registered nurse, I witnessed while growing up what that profession took out of her. She worked in the acute units of a hospital in ACU, ICU and CCU. By the time her work day ended she was flat out exhausted. She excelled at her job and most often gave it her all.
There are others in the “helping” professions who don’t have much to give or haven’t taken the time to fill their own cup. Beware of them as they too are out there with the good ones.
Today I want to hold up prayers for all the caregivers that seem to do it so well and effortlessly and knowing that they also need care and that care starts with self-care and appropriate boundary setting.
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