Some of you are aware that my mother is the recipient of caregiver love – from her family, her lodge staff, nurses and me! I write occasionally our experience together – her need to be taken care of financially, basically, and lately, more often times emotionally. My two hour drive north to accommodate her on a consistent and regular basis isn’t something that is planned. It happens and it happens “now”.
Well, lately, I’ve noticed something strange. In fact, this last time I cut short my vacation to honour one of her denture rebuilding appointments. I noticed that those around her were also emitting a strange vibration – it felt prickly, sticky and lacked something.
I’ve been feeling that for quite some time as I walked into the villa to visit her. I felt it more every time I adjusted my schedule, work and vacation, to accommodate her next appointments and her “must have” stuff from the store.
One of the reasons I began teaching other self-care was because for the past decade I was stressing and feeling angry. I learned how to ease that stress and now offer programs through Alberta Caregivers Association to many who feel overburdened, overcaring and ultimately stressed with their roles as caregivers.
This morning, as I listened to an interview with Marci Shimoff and David and Kristen Morelli, http://www.everythingisenergy.com/cmd.php?af=1366397 they spoke about the need for self-care. Marci said, that if you want to create any change in your life, you must come a place of self-compassion, self-love and self-esteem instead of beating yourself up!
Research has proven that when we are angry for 5 minutes it will suppress our immune system for 6 hours. When we are in love energy for 5 minutes, it will enhance our immune system! So how does one shift so quickly from anger, frustration (or stress) to love?
When we feel guilt and distress over not being able to do enough for others, or as many caregivers experience, not being able to do enough for ourselves, we start ignoring our own needs even more, we lose touch with the true and healthy love we intend to give.
What this means is, our love for others is becoming distorted.
Our love for ourselves then becomes distored.
Marci Shimoff wrote in her book Love for No Reason, the story of Sheva Carr’s “recovery” from overcare. In the 1980″s, after living with and helping impoverished children inNicaragua, Sheva had to leave the country for her own safety. Her feelings of guilt over abandoning those children and her worry about their continued plight manifested in extreme physical pain that she experienced for years. No amount of elaborate medical tests found a cause. It was only when Sheva learned some simple, but powerful techniques (from the Institute of Heartmath), that she was she able to let go of her guilt and live in appreciation and love — and when that happened, her physical symptoms reversed.
She practiced self-love.
Many of us will never experience the type of circumstances that Sheva did inNicaragua, but we may still be prone to give all of our emotional energy to taking care of others, and lose ourselves and our own health in the process. Here are six ways to keep you from falling into the trap of overcare and guilt:
1. Let go of being attached to a specific result: When you’re not attached to a particular outcome, you give freely and it’s more enjoyable and energizing. Whenever I give, I remind myself of a helpful formula I once learned: “High intention, low attachment.” Give with enthusiasm and trust the universe to take care of the results.
2. Don’t expect anything in return: We can get hung up on keeping score of reciprocal responses, and that really limits us. It keeps us from being free to love in a way that is uncalculating. We just need to do what my own mother said to me years ago, ‘Love, and forget about it.'”
3. Make sure that your giving doesn’t stress, drain, or weaken you: Healthy giving makes you feel good. Unhealthy giving, when you’re giving too much to others, will push you out of heart rhythm coherence and, over time, will take you from overcare to no care. The symptoms of no care, according to the program COMPASS from the Alberta Caregivers Association, are burnout, depression, resignation, or cynicism. Paying attention to the signals your body is sending will help you to recognize and reverse these symptoms before they take their toll on you.
4. Do this simple Quick Minute Heart exercise”: This simple process will help bring you just out of stress response and into love response. You could close or open your eyes.
Put the palm of your hand over your heart. That simple act releases oxytocin – the love chemical – it’s what mom’s release with children, or when you make love. The next step is to imagine your breath is coming in and out through the centre of your heart. Imagine that you are inhaling and exhaling through the heart. Now, on each in breath, breathe in ease, love, compassion. Exhale normally. Inhale, compassion, ease, love, exhale normally, inhale ease, compassion into the center of your heart. And once more, breathe in ease, compassion and love.
5. Drop into your body and ask yourself this question: “What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? Listen for the answer – it could be very simple like stretching, getting a glass of water, or walking away. Now look if there’s something in a way of your thinking about yourself? Bring a compassionate presence to your thoughts. And now, really, in as much care as you possibly can, take yourself into this next energy shifting exercise.
6. Close your eyes, and bring your attention to the center of your head. On a scale of 1 – 10 how are you doing with your own self-love? As you begin, imagine that you could release your attention from wherever it is and arrive here. Bring your scatteredness to this moment, right here and right now. You have your own purity and quality of love. What is the feeling of love you experience when you hold a child, or love your spouse? Find that quality of love that you know is your love in you.
How does it feel? Does it have a warmth, a tingling or a colour? Now, put your hand over your heart and imagine that you can breathe straight into your heart. Imagine that the breath has that love in it and expands in your heart and throughout you. Feel the love expanding throughout your body. With every breath, feel the tingling as it expands throughout your body.
With every breath, allow the love to expand in every cell and part of you. As you allow it to expand, allow the love to be felt. That’s it. Great job! Allow it to expand into your fingertips and toes and allow it to come alive.
Now imagine in front of you a dial, like a stereo volume knob. Reach out and turn that volume up to experience that love and radiance of you. Allow every cell to expand within and outside of you. Increase the volume of the purity of your love.
Notice where in your body, where that love is missing and needs that love, imagine that you can take a dropper of this love and pour some love on that place. Drop it straight down into the core of that pain. Drop a dropper full of love into that core of least love. Allow love to do what love does best – unify, return to wholeness and the experience that matters most to you. That’s it, great job!
P.S. I hope you enjoyed the content, visit me on my Facebook page and let me know what you do to prevent overcare.