Care Giving

Care-taking VS Care-giving.  There are crucial differences between care-taking and care-giving and you will notice: the healthier and happier your relationship, the more you are care-giving rather than care-taking.

Care-taking and care-giving can be seen as a continuum.  We usually aren’t doing both at the same time.  The goal is to do as much care-giving as possible and to decrease care-taking.  Care-taking is a dysfunctional, learned behavior that can be changed.  We want to change so we can experience more peace, contentment, and better relationships. Intimates in your life may resist your healthier actions, but shifting to care-giving is a huge gift you are bestowing upon your loved ones. (Even when they do not see it at first)

The first step is identify loved ones that are care-taking you. (anyone in your life that you have given permission to watch over (Judge your decisions and or problems) Do you ask for opinions or advise in unhealthy ways? Do you ask or expect others to help carry your burdens, consciously or sub-consciously? Do you consistently go to the same people for help or support in a way that has allowed them to think you NEED them?. Are you giving them some control of your decisions or at least creating a dynamic of needing their wisdom instead of your own?

After you identify who is care-taking you, then ask yourself what role you play to keep that dynamic going. Care-taking is a hallmark of codependency and is rooted in insecurity and a need to be in control, or give up some responsibility or control to another.

Care-giving is an expression of kindness and love, and is based on altruistic empathy with no expectation or ego based attachment to outcome. When we truly allow autonomy the other persons success or failure is their own and should have no effect on how we feel about the help, support, and love we gave or attempted to give.

Here are some key differences between care-taking and care-giving:

  • Care-taking feels stressful, exhausting and frustrating.  Care-giving feels right and feels like love.  It re-energizes and inspires you.
  • Care-taking crosses boundaries.  Care-giving honors them.
  • Care-taking takes from the recipient or gives with strings attached; care-giving gives freely.
  • Caretakers don’t practice self-care because they mistakenly believe it is a selfish act.
  • Caregivers practice self-care unabashedly because they know that keeping themselves happy enables them to be of service to others.
  • Caretakers worry; caregivers take action and solve problems.
  • Caretakers think they know what’s best for others; caregivers only know what’s best for their selves.
  • Caretakers don’t trust others’ abilities to care for their selves, caregivers trust others enough to allow them to activate their own inner wisdom and problem solving capabilities.
  • Care-taking creates anxiety and/or depression in the caretaker.  Care-giving decreases anxiety and/or depression in the caregiver.
  • Caretakers tend to attract needy people.  Caregivers tend to attract healthy people.  (Hint:  We tend to attract people who are slightly above or below our own level of mental health).
  • Caretakers tend to be judgmental; caregivers don’t see the logic in judging others and practice a “live and let live attitude.”
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises for someone else; caregivers empathize fully, letting the other person know they are not alone and lovingly asks, “What are you going to do about that.”
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises; caregivers respectfully wait to be asked to help.
  • Caretakers tend to be dramatic in their care-taking and focus on the problem; caregivers can create dramatic results by focusing on the solutions.
  • Caretakers us the word “You” a lot and Caregivers say “I” more.

As with changing any behavior, becoming aware of it is the first step.  Watch yourself next time you are with someone and ask yourself where you fall on the continuum.  It will take some work to change and you may experience some resistance and fear in the process — but what is on the other side is well worth the struggles of transformation.

Remove yourself from being taken care of in kind ways, and learn to accept care-giving instead. (This may be from new intimates or from shifting existing relationships)

Become a Caregiver yourself. Give freely non-attached to outcome. Guide don’t direct, and ask questions to help others discover their inner wisdom instead of assuming they need your profound wisdom.

Traveling from co-dependency to in-dependency and then hopefully to interdependency in our relationships is difficult but not impossible. We all are entangled and connected. We all need to support and love and be supported and loved as we move through challenges and seasons in our lives.

Happy Care-giving;-) !!!!

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