The holidays can be tough, especially when you see such need around you. As a caregiver your natural gift to give (and give) of yourself can get out of balance with your receiving.
One sign that that this is happening is your giving is met with frustration or even anger. Your own or others.
It could be because your cup is empty.
This is something that can sneak up on you. In fact, it’s very hard to recognize. What’s happening is that you’ve come to learn to live on less. For example, less rest, less down time, and less nutritious food.
Little by little, without your awareness, you’re living off the vapors of your once full cup.
Maybe you feel you can catch up later (sleep in on your days off), or that any lack will be short-lived and you’ll manage through the rough spots.
But what typically happens is that instead of taking that time to restore, you just keep going.
And when another someone needs your help, you gladly give Your All.
But in contrast to getting the usual response of great appreciation to your giving, the person is upset.
Because even though you gave Your All, you haven’t yet noticed that instead of giving generously, you are dripping out the last precious drops clinging to the bottom of your cup.
Giving from an empty or near empty cup has a particular feel. It often has an edginess to it. Maybe sarcasm instead of humor slips out, or you mean to be kind, but instead you’re brusk.
I notice this in myself and I recognize that as caregivers, it’s important to remember that we, too, need taking care of.
While you may have special folks in your life who will sometimes rub your tired feet or cook you a hot meal, for us heavy duty givers, we also need to find the places where we can hold a little tenderness for ourselves and for the parts of us that feel empty, drained and just plain tired.
Taking a moment to just be with what is, can be nourishing in and of itself. Without having to change anything at all about yourself; a moment to be without judgment or any self-criticism.
When you rest your mind in acceptance of yourself, the body responds parasympathetically (the Relaxation Response), shifting you into rest and renewal.
Mindfulness writer and teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “There is more right with you than wrong,” and your heart particularly welcomes this message.
It’s from here you begin to fill your cup back up.
During this holiday season, people will be looking to you for help. And since you are such a good caregiver at work and at home, you will give of yourself. I will, too.
So when you feel you’re on that edge of giving from an empty cup, take that very same moment, give a nod to yourself, and just be.
I’d love to hear how this goes for you and any challenges you have, too. Use the comment section below.
All my love to you,
Future Programs Coming Soon!
I will be hosting a free tele-seminar in the early part of 2015 and offering a 7 week tele-class on Stress Reduction for Health Professionals shortly after that. I’ll be sharing details and dates soon. Stay tuned.
If you’ve been struggling with how to bridge the gap between taking care of others while taking care of yourself, I want to invite you to take a look at my individual coaching work. You can read about that here and then we can have a conversation to see if this is what you need.