In a previous blog post, I discussed the topic of worry and caregiving. I gave some tips for steps you can take as a caregiver to untangle yourself of needless unproductive worry. There is a wonderful Chinese proverb that advises us: “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change; but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”
As a caregiver, you may be concerned that if you stop worrying, this is a signal that you do not care anymore. You may hear your inner voice saying, “Caring is providing care. My caring for people is an expression of love in my life. I worry because I care.” Your family and friends are calling you a “worry wart.” Can you shed this part of your personality? Rest assured, you can!
In this reflection composed by my mentor and friend, Merle Stern, we ask you to take a few minutes to explore, examine, and untangle caring from worrying. Find a few minutes in your busy schedule, along with a quiet space, and a journal close by to write your reflections.
When you feel ready to begin, gently close your eyes and focus on your breathing. When you breathe in, feel your body relax. Focus on your neck muscles, shoulder muscles, then all the muscles in your body. When you breathe out, feel the tension leave your neck, shoulders, your whole body. Let go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings. Become aware of the present moment and your commitment to a change that is consistent with what you value most in life.
Gradually, begin to visualize the part of you that is worrying most of the time. Visualize that part of your personality as a gnome. For the time being, free yourself from worries by encapsulating them into that gnome. Send the gnome away for a while so that you can have some peace and quiet as you examine more carefully your list of worries.
Get a sense of what it feels like to be free from worrying. Are you feeling less tired, not dragged down? Are your physical and emotional energies starting to re-charge?
Now take a closer look at some of the areas that may be causing you to worry needlessly.
- Is there a situation that needs to be addressed immediately or in the near future? Can you be proactive and productive? If so, identify what you might need to put into place to achieve the outcome you desire.
- Is there a situation for which you are taking responsibility, but have no control? Is this a situation that needs to be accepted because you have no control over it?
- What are the areas of your competency? What are some situations that you know you can handle if and when they occur? What are areas where you could use others’ help in handling?
- What unproductive, needless worries will you leave encapsulated in the gnome whom you have banished?
As you bring your reflection to an end, gradually become aware of your physical surroundings, the sounds, and the light that has been shed on this area of darkness. Focus your awareness on your breathing. When you are ready, record whatever insights you have. How will these insights enable you to move forward in your life? What has been the value of this experience? How will you integrate this into your daily life?
If you are so inclined, draw a picture of your gnome, worry warts and all! When you begin to feel overwhelmed with worry and concern, take a look at this gnome, and banish him/her again.
I wish you peace, patience, and joy in your caregiving today and every day!
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Feel free to share this reflection with family and friends, but please credit Merle Stern as the author. I would love your feedback. You can reach me at: Vicki@Caregiverfamilies.com.
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