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You can write your own story. I already believe in you.

Message 25, January, 2021

Dear Guest,

If you spend any time at all with me talking about family caregivers, you'll probably hear me say that, when we become caregivers, it feels like we stepped into a chapter that somebody else wrote for us. It's as if we become just a player in this story. Technically, it’s still our life, but somebody else already wrote the plot and the characters, and the role we are supposed to play is "the good caregiver." 

And frankly, even though we are a main character in the story, we don't get much attention until something happens that goes against the prescribed narrative. Maybe something goes wrong with the health or finances of the care receiver, or we decide to do something like change our work schedule or take a vacation, and suddenly, the people around us are inconvenienced because we went off-script. And lots of relationship drama plays out unless or until we get back in line with the story. 

And since it seems like this chapter is already written, and practically chipped into stone, we play along. We think we have to.

So if there is one thing I could change for all family caregivers, it's that we would know and believe that we can write our own story. Not just the ending, but the whole thing.

We don't have to accept the character that was written for us. No matter how firmly it seems like this story is embedded in your family dynamics, you have a choice. Always, there is at least one other choice.

Of course you might have to go through some shifts in how your relationships look before you can really live into your choice. You might have to get uncomfortable and ask for help and receive help, even when the person helping is a total jerk about it. You might have to change the way you think about yourself and some of your own beliefs - and maybe even question something really painful like an outdated moral code you don't agree with or that is punishing to you as a caregiver.

It won't be easy to write your own story, but most caregivers already describe their lives as hard. If it’s going to be hard anyway, why not create something that’s also going to be better for you?

If you want, you can get fit, get a dog, get quality sleep, improve your marriage, go for a promotion, go on a vacation or start a business. You can even, if you want, have a better relationship with your care receiver. It's true! The so-called rules might say you can't do any of that. So what? No, really. So what?! 

This is why I've spent so much time lately talking about just some of the reasons possibilities are so important. As family caregivers, we have to train our brains to see beyond the chapter that everybody else wrote for us. 

Each of us is going to have a different set of roadblocks in our way. Maybe you feel invisible, overwhelmed, overworked or underappreciated. Maybe your relationship with your spouse or kids is suffering. Maybe in your family, the definition of being a “good” caregiver includes a big dose of guilt and shame, or it feels like a trap because it doesn’t fit you or your situation.

I call these our starting points. And the thing to do is learn how to observe yourself and your mind without judgment. Then, based on what you observe about yourself, you can pick just one starting point and get to work understanding it, so at some point, you’ll be able to choose what you want instead. If you want to think or behave differently, you can decide how.

I go more in depth about the process of observing your mind without judgment in my book, From One Caregiver to Another - Overcoming Your Emotional Grind. I also help family caregivers every day through my coaching practice, and you can learn a little more about that here if you are interested. 

So I know it’s a big dream, but this is what I want for all family caregivers: to live a life that’s fulfilling and meaningful according to your own standards. A life where you don’t feel trapped and where you can see possibilities. And it all begins with believing there’s a possibility you can observe your own mind and, instead of judging yourself, you can be neutral about it (and maybe one day, perhaps you can even feel unconditional love for yourself).

This message is the final one in my “January Encouragement for Caregivers” series. I’m so glad you’ve been here with me for this journey! The next message you receive from me will look a little different because after this, I’ll be sending messages under the heading of “From One Caregiver to Another.” (That will also be the name of my podcast beginning in late February of 2021.)

I'd love to hear about your experiences, or if you have any thoughts or  questions, by leaving a comment here.

I’m sending good thoughts and encouragement your way! I will never judge you for your starting point. And I already believe in you, 

Kay Coughlin,
Life Coach (and mother, wife, business owner and caregiver)
Helping family caregivers who feel trapped by the definition of being a “good” caregiver

P.S. If you want to break through to see your possibilities quickly, grab my free "Thought Download Cheat Sheet". And let me know how it goes for you.


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Copyright 2020, Facilitator On Fire, Galena, OH, 43021, 614.426.8062

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