The myth of self-reliance

As a society, we value independence. The self-sufficient super-achiever. When it comes to family caregiving, however, this mind-set can backfire, resulting in stress and burnout for you, not to mention greater risk for your relative. (Imagine if something happened to you and no one else has really been part of the team, sharing the tasks!)

Your mind may be the culprit. When you think about asking others for help, does your mind immediately come up with reasons why they can’t? Those are thoughts and beliefs trapping you, not reality or facts. It is time to question your assumptions.

Liberate yourself

For each obstacle statement your mind produces, challenge your limiting thoughts with alternate possibilities:

  • “They are too busy.” This is an assumption. I won’t know until I ask.
  • “I should be able to do it all.” The situation is more than anyone could foresee or do alone. It’s reasonable to ask for help.
  • “I’m emotionally the closest.” That may be; however, that doesn’t mean that others don’t have a role to play. It is an opportunity for them to learn and participate, and also for the person I care for to have greater security and feel supported by more than just me.
  • “They live too far away.” Even if they can’t help with hands-on activities, there are other ways they can contribute that will make my load lighter.
  • “It’s more work to teach them than to do it myself.” That’s true at first. But then they will know how and can do it again. This is a vote for the long haul.
  • “They won’t do it right.” I can teach them. And maybe it’s okay if it’s not perfect (the way I would do it).
  • “They don’t want to help. If they did, they would have already.” This is an assumption. They won’t know what’s needed or how to help unless I express the need.