I was raised to never say "I can't". While that's great in normal everyday life, I've found it's not the best in the world of caregiving.
My dad loved us. I know he did because he worked two jobs, and sometimes three, so mom could stay home and care for his four little angels. Okay, that's a stretch. No one referred to us as "little Angels", not even our grandparents!
I grew up in the no-participation trophy era. We worked hard, played hard, and got what we earned, which was sometimes swats, but I digress.
Dad taught us we could do anything we set our minds to. Henry Ford stated it best when he said, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right." Our attitude is critical to our success.
While I believe all that, and you probably do too, I've learned that, at least in caregiving, there are some acceptable "I can't" situations.
Ready? Here we go....
1. I can't do it all alone.
We all need some help from time to time and that's okay. In fact, that's healthy! People want to help you, they may not know HOW to help you.
This is where we get ourselves prepared for the conversation. Make a list of things someone could do to help you. It might include things like:
- mow the yard
- walk the dog
- cook a meal
- pick up prescriptions
- sit with mom while I run errands, take a bath, read a book.....
List everything you can think of that would give you a little relief.
Put the list in your purse or wallet. Now, when someone asks what they can do to help, pull out your list and ask if there's anything on the list they would like to do.
2. I can't make everything perfect.
Life isn't perfect. Add to it an unfavorable diagnosis, and it just got tougher.
No amount of wishing will change the diagnosis and make life return to normal. I'm sorry, but it's true.
Accepting your new reality will reduce your stress.
It's not your job to fix them and fix everything. No one expects you to. (Except maybe you.) I apologize if I'm offending you. I sincerely want to make your life less stressful, and dear friend, this is one way to do it.
Accept the imperfections and celebrate the small wins. You and your loved one will be happier once you do.
3. I can't do it all at once.
I remember an old elephant joke that went like this:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
It's true! Write a list of the things that need to be accomplished today, (if you are a list person.)
Prioritize them and focus on only one thing at a time.
You'll accomplish more. Also, don't expect to finish everything on your list! You can review it tomorrow and start again, one task at a time.
What are other "I can't" statements that come to mind?