by Bev Borton~
Feeling impatient? Unappreciated for your efforts?
Wondering where you will continue to find the time or finances for care?
Seeing a burden coming your way?
Sad at the loss of your parent’s recognition?
What’s In It For Me, you ask? Plenty. As a coach, I find opportunities for positive growth even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. It starts with creating shifts in perspective that provide relief.
Does this description fit your current circumstances? You get short with their slowness. You have times when you feel like a captive while caring for or in the company of an aged parent -sitting with him or her on a plane, in a waiting room, or in your own kitchen when you want instead to maintain your normal pace, continue with your normal activities. The repetition you have to provide tries your patience to no end. Maybe you have no interest in the “organ recital” of ailments and conditions. You feel unappreciated for your efforts that go unrecognized. You don’t have time. Not now. You feel as if you have no life outside of the care you provide.
How would you like to feel? What experience would you ideally like to have, given the circumstances? What would be a win for you- really?
Ask yourself four questions to see if they can lead you to more satisfying results than today’s worrisome thoughts and seeming burdens.
Am I complete?
The most direct way to put this is to ask, “If my parent died tomorrow, would I have any regrets or unresolved issues with them?”
How would that sit with me?
How can I take an opportunity to clear the air, explain myself, or make it better?
What role model am I providing for my own family?
What am I teaching them in terms of handling challenges?
Would I want my kids to treat me this way when I am older?
How can I act in accordance with the values I hold dear?
What matters most?
Am I realistic?
Am I trapped in the cycle of the helper and the victim? The helper acts from a place of compassion, and a higher calling. But when the circumstances become too burdensome, the helper falls back into a poor me stance and complains or becomes resentful, feeling as if their hands are tied. If so, what do I notice that sets me off? What can I change to create a genuine win-win for both my parent(s) and myself? What can I delegate? What support do I need?
The origin of the word “sacrifice” relates to giving up what no longer works in order to stay sacred-When I make sacrifices, are they to ensure that the most important things are covered? What can I let go of? Which actions are most valuable? Which are not? Can I go up to 40,000 feet and get a long view perspective on this time period? What’s the feeling I want to have when this period is over? I can look at this as an investment of time and energy to get there.
What’s the legacy I have been given? How can I live up to it or improve it beyond the good it already contains? What legacy will follow me by the example I set? There is life and vitality in being old. If I look into the deepest expression of who they are, what gifts do I receive from my parents? What wisdom might I be gaining? What am I learning about adaptability? Connection?
“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be. The last of life for which the first was made.”~Robert Browning
Emphasis is on the word ”grow”. For all of us, including our elder parents and loved ones, life is about growing whole, not old. Aging successfully is more than keeping fit and healthy; it includes our emotional and mental lives as well. At any stage of our lives, even when times are most challenging, we can continue to make meaning for ourselves and others. We can create the satisfaction of a life well-lived -where it counts.