Beliefs that Hold Caregivers Back: #2: My loved one won’t accept help from anyone but me.

Asian adult daughter feeding fruit to senior mother

Last week I began this series of posts to explore the self-limiting beliefs that caregivers often have that hold them back from reaching out for the love and support that they and their loved ones need.

The first one I explored was: Nobody else can do what I do for my loved one.
The conclusion I came to is that nobody can necessarily do things in the same way you do, but many people can do those things in ways that would still be appropriate and valuable for your loved one. And, their ways could even enrich rather than detract from your loved one’s experience.

This week’s belief to explore is: My loved one won’t accept help from anyone but me.

First, to what degree is that really the case? How do you know? It may simply be that you’ve always been the one, so it’s assumed that ‘s the way it needs to be. Or it may be your loved one’s preference to have you provide all the care, but not their insistence on it. Maybe the idea has never come up. And maybe you are assuming this is the case. Maybe it’s time to have a conversation with your loved one to check it out.

A few suggestions about approaching that conversation. When considering bringing in other people to help out, you’re not considering bringing “anybody” in. Rather, you’d be thinking about what’s important to you and your loved one. This includes how comfortable you’d both be with that person, how respectful of your privacy they would be, how sensitive they would be to your loved one’s moods and preferences, and any other things that are especially important for both of you.

The two of you might be playful with this and consider this a casting call with both of you being the casting directors. Doing this in your own way will make it obvious to you both that you are making choices and that doing so is a good thing in itself.

If, however, it turns out that your loved one is not amenable to working this out with you, and is adamant about not being willing to accept help from anyone else, you’ll need to get clear about what you are willing to do. This was exactly the situation that Mildred, a reader of Coaching for Caregivers, recently found herself in. Her husband was demanding that she do it all herself. She felt trapped and angry about it and reached out to me for advice.

I suggested to her that even if I and every experienced caregiver would tell her over and over that doing it all herself would be a sure fire way towards burnout, she was the only one who could decide what was right for her. If she was not willing to comply with his wishes, they, as a couple had a conflict that they needed to manage. I suggested she consider enlisting the help of a clergy person, a social worker or a family counselor or therapist. Her loved one’s refusal to consider outside help most likely comes from fear of what that experience might be like for him. Utilizing a professional could provide a safe way for him one to express and work through such feelings and help her acknowledge and affirm that her needs are important here as well. From our conversation, I already had a sense that she was beginning to take her own needs more seriously and that, no matter what course she chose, she was no longer going to ignore those needs.

Meanwhile, if you have been in such a situation and have insights and successful experiences to share with other caregivers, let us hear from you!

Stay tuned for next week’s featured self-limiting belief: I’m too busy to even begin to think about doing anything more – even reaching out. I’m betting that you’ll somehow not be too busy to check it out!

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