Be Your Own Caretaker

Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat your mother, child, or best friend. Give yourself all the compassion and understanding that you need. Love yourself, with all your imperfections, with all of your pain. Your pain is not a punishment. Your pain does not mean you are less worthy than other people without pain. Everyone has something to bear. Some people may seem to be problem-free, but no one has it made. Life is not easy. We have to work at making our life good for ourselves. Unnecessary demands or expectations increase our stress and pain. Criticism and self-pity make each day harder. Feel warmth and kindness towards yourself. Soften your heart. Ease up on your anger and perfectionism.

Balinda works as a caregiver for the elderly. I have referred several clients to her over the years because she is so good. Balinda is very kind and hardworking.

Over time, I came to know Balinda pretty well. I found out she suffered from chronic back pain, which she frequently aggravated transferring people. Once I found that out, I arranged to have needed equipment in place and at times another caregiver to work with her. I started pestering Balinda to wear a back support and to let others know she couldn’t do certain tasks. Balinda would complain and say she didn’t want special treatment.

Balinda made it clear, she felt unworthy. She worked through meals, wore old clothes and never had any fun. She was divorced and lived with her daughter and her family. Although only 50, she often said her life was behind her and her goal now was to help her grandchildren.

Balinda said it was not worth the time and effort it would take to see a doctor or to even soak in the tub. She frequently said she didn’t need anything and didn’t like frills like getting her hair done.
The client she was caring for died and I lost contact with her for about a year. I ran into her accidentally and was surprised by the change. “You were right!” she shouted, with a huge smile. Her hair and nails were done and she was wearing new clothes. She was dating, going out and having fun. Her health was stable, she sees a doctor and her pain is under good control. She still works as a caregiver, but lets people know upfront what her limitations are. She’s pleased most people are supportive.

“I am worth it,” she told me with a wink. I was so happy that the caregiver was finally taking care of herself.

Do not expect more of yourself than what you can do. Appreciate your many good qualities. Work on aspects of yourself that you want to change, but if you fall short or make a mistake, forgive yourself. I have seen many people treat their dogs better than they treat themselves. Today, be gentle with yourself.