What Does This Look Like When You Are A Caregiver?
Growth Versus Stagnation
Are you growing or staying stagnant?
Both can feel uncomfortable. Both can feel yucky. How do you know which one you are in?
I recently had an experience where I was plagued with feelings of uncertainty and doubt. I didn’t like it and wanted to figure out how not to fix myself. It was my coach who helped me to see that in fact, those uncomfortable feelings were exactly the way I should be feeling. It meant that I’m growing, taking risks, and learning new things. He reminded me that it is supposed to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is the price of growth.
Oh my gosh, I felt so much better! I knew he was right. As coaches, we teach our clients about the discomfort of growth. Still, when you are in the midst of those very uncomfortable feelings, it can be hard to see the bigger picture.
It got me thinking. So often we hear stories of people on the other side of their struggle, when they have already succeeded and are looking back on their journey. Their tale is told with the benefit of perspective and the knowledge that they got through it.
But what about when you are in it? How does it feel? How do you know if you are struggling and moving forward or just struggling to get through each day? How can you tell if your discomfort is from growth or stagnation?
What Stagnation Feels Like
When I was at a period of stagnation in my life, I felt very discontent. I was going through the motions, but no longer had goals for myself. I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my career and yet, still wasn’t really happy about it. I wanted my life to be different, but I wasn’t doing anything about it. Moreover, I didn’t even feel like I could do anything about it. I had stopped dreaming.
What Growth Feels Like
Growth is often uncomfortable, but there is purpose to it. It is when you are doing new things but yet still feeling uncertain. You may have doubt about yourself or your actions. You may wonder if you are doing it right or doing the right thing. I think it feels like attending your first Junior High dance. You feel both thrill and terror at the same time. When you are growing, you will feel optimistic and that your life is full of possibility. Not necessarily all the time, but that will be an undercurrent, even when you are struggling.
As A Caregiver
Growth versus stagnation may look a little different when you are caregiving. It is usually not the time when you are actively pursuing your greater life dreams. Often, that just isn’t feasible. However the additional stresses of caregiving will often magnify whatever area of your life that you were already struggling with. Additionally, caregiving requires you to face new challenges. You have to adjust to a new circumstance that has impacted nearly every aspect of your life. How you react or have been reacting to this situation can shed some light on if you are growing or stagnating.
Stagnation As A Caregiver
Stagnation can take many forms. It can look like persistent feelings of resentment and anger, but doing nothing to address it. It can be perpetually feeling hopeless or victimized by your situation. It is often characterized by frequent desire to escape or numb from your life.
All of these things feel awful, and often we are so used to this feeling, we don’t even realize it. You will most likely feel an overall discontent and hopelessness. You will have forgotten how to dream.
Growth As A Caregiver
As a caregiver growth can look like self awareness. You are aware of your own struggle to deal with the challenges and try to find healthy ways to get support or support yourself. Growth while caregiving is also characterized by spending some time focusing on you and not just the patient, or everyone else that needs you. This may mean you still take time to exercise, or eat healthy meals, take a walk to de-stress. Growth also means working your emotions with a group, with a coach, or with a good friend.
No Right Or Wrong, Just Awareness
Coaching is always about awareness first. So when I talk about growth or stagnation, it is to teach you how to become aware of this in your own life. However, sometimes when we become aware of how we are being and we don’t like what we find, we can initially feel worse and start feeling shameful about ourselves. This is NEVER helpful.
There is no right or wrong way of being. There are only ways of being that help you grow and evolve or there are ways of being that keep you stuck and feeling negative most of the time. Another way to say this is your thoughts and actions are either serving you in your life or they are not. So, be very careful to not judge yourself. Instead, cultivate curiosity and compassion as you look inward.
Ask yourself if you are growing or stagnating? Do you like your answer? If you don’t, it’s OK. These are not permanent states and the beauty of being a human is that we can become aware and move our life in the direction we want, no matter what challenges we face!
Coaching is great at helping you move out of stagnation and toward growth. It was through coaching that I learned to dream again and set goals for myself. Now, I help my clients do just that, while still navigating the challenges of caregiving. Are there areas of your life where you feel like you are stagnating and need some help? This is exactly what I do, all day every day!