How long have you been in a caregiving role?
When did you realize there’s something wrong with your relationship?
Caregiving is difficult at best. And in many cases, as more is required from you as a caregiver, the relationship you have with your loved one changes right along with it. What used to be loving, caring, nurturing, no longer is.
As things change, you might have repressed emotions and disregarded your own needs to focus on the needs of your loved one. That’s what we do; we step in and do what has to be done, especially when our loved one no longer can care for himself.
But what about you? Resentment builds. And a lack of internal focus and control means you start searching for external sources of validation and control. If you can’t get to the heart of what makes you you, you’ll find it in the only way you can.
That leads to caretaking instead of caregiving.
What’s the difference?
Caretaking is a dysfunctional, learned behavior that can be changed. The very definition of taking is: the action or process of taking something. And as the roll of a caretaker, you take away from your loved one and do things in your own manner without regards to how your loved one feels or thinks or acts.
Caregiving is an expression of love and kindness. Caretaking is something else.
- Caretakers worry. Caregivers take action and get things done.
- Caretakers are stressed, frustrated, and exhausted. Caregivers are energized and do what feels good in their hearts.
- Caretakers cross boundaries. Caregivers honor them.
- Caretakers take with strings attached. Caregivers give freely.
- Caretakers never practice self-care because they label it a selfish act. Caregivers understand that to give of themselves, they must first take care of themselves.
- Caretakers won’t trust others to help. Caregivers trust enough to allow help in where they need it most.
- Caretakers have more needs. Caregivers have stronger health.
- Caretakers immediately go to work fixing a problem. Caregivers wait until an appropriate time to provide help.
- Caretakers tend to be judgmental. Caregivers take on a “live and let live” attitude.
- Caretakers say “you.” Caregivers say “I.”
See yourself in any of these descriptions?
Caretaking is a learned behavior that can be changed. The first step is in recognizing that you’ve become a caretaker instead of a caregiver. Watch your movements as you move through the coming days and see how you approach each task. Are you caretaking? Or are you caregiving?
How can you change?