The Caregiver Cup Podcast

The Transition of Caregiving and Your Conflicting Values

July 25, 2023 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 171
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
The Transition of Caregiving and Your Conflicting Values
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Help us continue making great content for caregiver listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feeling anger, resentment, torn or unhappy?  Caregiving is a life transition for you and it competes with your values.  This transition is hard.  When you don’t address your competing values, you may feel like you are suffocating.

Learn invaluable tips to stay connected to our personal goals and your new caregiver values.   I delve into how to identify your values during and after this transformative journey, and why it's paramount to keep moments of joy and peace at the core.  I also draw parallels between caregiving and other significant life transitions, such as the pandemic and personal health battles like cancer. Remember this: during these challenging times, it's crucial to check-in with yourself, take pride in your evolution, and stay grounded. Tune in for this enlightening episode.

Get my free resource:  17 SHIFTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF CAREGIVER STRESS that will take you to the best version of yourself.

Support the show

Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

Speaker 1:

Well, hello there and welcome back to another episode of the caregiver cup podcast. It's Kathy here. I am so glad you are listening. And as I was looking at the date, I cannot believe it's the last Tuesday in July, and it's the last week of July in twenty twenty three. My gosh, where is the time going? I've been listening a little bit to the weather and the news and the heat in America, and I hope that you are staying safe and not exposing yourself to too much of this heat and hot. Hotness. I know that's not a word out there, but I was just thinking about you and your ones and hope everything is going well. Well, today, I wanna talk about the feelings that we get as caregivers sometimes.

Speaker 2:

And I really want us to take a step back and talk about why we feel the way we do and relate this to some of our competing behaviors and our competing values. So when you think about and understand why you feel torn, why you feel anger and resentment, or why you're struggling it can help you better than figure out what tips and strategies you have to make and shifts that you have to make so that your ultimate goal is to live in this caregiver life with moments of joy and peace and understanding so that when you're done with your caregiving journey, you can look back at it at it and it's not this big black cloud. It's it's something that you feel good about and you've learned a lot about. So I wanna start off by saying, here are the facts. To think about when you're you're when we take a step back. Were you given formal training to be a caregiver?

Speaker 1:

No. We didn't have onboarding training. We didn't have, you know, we didn't have, you know, a classroom to teach us unless we had some nursing background or some psychology background that we're bringing to the plate with us. Were you given a mentor or a buddy that you could call up and ask questions on? No, wouldn't that be cool though? Were you given a transition period to adjust to caregiving? Because you're when you jumped into caregiving, you were living your life you were working, you were managing your home, you were managing your career, or pursuing your career, and then you had to make room for caregiving. I'm taking a quick drink of water here, or were you given a choice? Was it a voluntary choice? Was it an involuntary choice? Were you excited about it? Were you not excited about it? If you said heck no to most of these or all of these questions, we all feel the same way. Right? Let's just be real here today. We jumped right in to caregiving. I believe we did. And most of us did it voluntarily to do it because maybe we were the only person that was able to do it or we just went ahead and, you know, figured it out as we went. In today's episode, I wanna talk about how this is a life transition for you. It's one that happens suddenly for most of us, or maybe you've seen it over time because you have an elderly parent or somebody's disease or diagnosis, your loved one's diagnosis

Speaker 2:

is getting worse and worse and worse. But you just do it. Many of us don't have a choice but to take care of our loved one. And

Speaker 1:

And I always think choice is a hard word to say. We probably did it too out of the love. For our loved one as well, I know I did it for Dennis. My husband, Dennis, when I shared this topic with him and I drive him crazy, you all, just as a sidebar.

Speaker 2:

I drive him crazy and I'm like, you gotta hear this podcast episode topic I'm gonna talk about today. It is so cool and I usually sit down and he usually has to pause the TV. And I know inside he's rolling his hat, or he's out at his work bench in his garage, and he has to pause it. But when I shared this episode with him,

Speaker 1:

and shared the topic. He said it was just it was so heart wrenching and so

Speaker 2:

thoughtful of them him to say it, and I kind of feel bad. But he said it feels horrible when it felt horrible when I had to jump in and it felt horrible from his end. He said he didn't have a choice either when it came to his disease. He said, Cancer was the life transition for us. And cancer changed his life. Cancer changed my life. Cancer changed our kids life, cancer changed our household everything. And I thought that's really a good point. It reminds me similar to COVID when the world had to shut down and isolate. It was a huge transition for all of us. I mean, think about the kids that had to go to school on Zoom now and do do it electronically. They weren't given a choice. We had to stay in our homes. I remember cleaning the the canned goods and making sure COVID wasn't on any of the groceries. And we had to do that to protect ourselves, and that was a huge transition. We weren't trained on that. We just watched and learned as we went. When we're going through a major life transition, there is an intersection between the transition and our values and the transition to caregiving. So think about it. We're driving down the road we're going ahead and we have our own values and I'll explain what those are in just a second. We have our own life that we're leading and all of a sudden we have an intersection with caregiving. And that transition is there. In a transition, Our values are compromised. Our values are questioned. And so let me define values. Most of us have heard the word values in what we value. First of all, they're intrinsic. They're motivator to us and there are our compass of life. Just think about it. When you have a value and you value something, you probably have goals. Or strategies behind your values. And what matters the most to us is the compass and the direction that our goals are going. I'll go back to way back when I was in my twenties and thirties, and my values as a young married couple with young children, I my value was ambition in my corporate job because I I've applied for my corporate job. I bought my job and I wanted to be successful in my career. So I would set goals and work with mentors and learn as much as I could. And I was striving for that next promotion, that next job. And I finally found the job that I really loved, and that was adult learning. And I found that job but I also wanted job security from the ambition so that we could purchase our first home and then our second home and then eventually our third home. That I'm living in right now. And so ambition was a value and it it actually was something that was instilled in me as as a child, it was one of the the values my parents instilled in me. Then as I had kids and they were growing and they were I had you know, three boys. I also valued family time and connections. And those two values started competing with with each other. And so I had to figure out how I could create space for both of them. And I figured it out and I actually worked on, you know, making sure that quality time with my kids were there I found hacks to go ahead and and so I didn't have to spend like my whole Saturday cleaning and all that kind of stuff. So I went ahead and worked on trying to go ahead and work with both of those. And we'll talk about this in a minute because you can have more than one value. It's just when they start competing with each other, you have to figure out how to work with both and how to almost take a step back and prioritize both of them. Well, as my three boys grew into adulthood and they left the nest one at a time, my focus and my values changed. And I I started looking at what could I do? And when I turned fifty, I really was all in on my focus on my health. Meaning as I didn't in my twenties and my thirties and even early forties. I was so busy with the kids that I never did anything for myself. And so I started running and focused on my nutrition and really worked on that, started setting goals to run five k's and ten k's and join running groups and stuff like that. I also discovered that I wanted more than my corporate job and saw ambition in a different direction as a business owner or doing something that I had more control over. And so I pursued so many different direct sales opportunities, and I learned so much about sales before I actually fell into being my own entrepreneur. And it it was really fun to be able to have both of those both of those values, you know, kind of running in a swim lane next to each other or swimming in a swim lane next to each other. But then came caregiving. Boom, which felt like running into a brick wall. And I know you feel this way. This transition of caregiving was fighting with my other two values and I call them competing with my values. I tried and tried to continue training and running but the stress became too hard. It affected my body. It affected my mind. I couldn't stay focused. I would give up on training because when you're training for like a half marathon, I've never run a marathon before, but I've ran thirteen point one miles, and that point one is so important because far to speeds. But when you're running, for me, I had to run three times a week. And at the highest peak, you're running ten miles a day. And so you would run, and so that would be at least an hour to two hours a day. And then in between, you would be doing strength training and because the biggest piece is working on your core because your back hurts when you run and you put a lot of pressure on your back and your shoulders and so you have to strength train a lot. And then I wasn't staying disciplined in my nutrition and which was an important piece. You have to stay hydrated. You have to eat the right foods and know what protein and what carbs to go ahead and do. Well, I was running to chemotherapy appointments and doctor's appointments. And with Dennis at home, and my dad bought to our drive away, I was driving up and being with my parents on the weekend trying to give my mom a little bit of break from caregiving as well. I could barely keep my schedule for work and caregiving. As you know, the transition is so hard. From a caregiving perspective. I didn't ask for it. You didn't ask for it. I wasn't excited about it. And I started feeling the effects both physically and emotionally. But what do most of us do when we're caregiving? And you start he start realizing this transition is too hard. You start you start you get in your head that's like, this is so overwhelming. I'm so stressed out. This is not what I signed up for. What do what do most of us do? We push through it. We avoid it. We tell ourselves that, you know, you can't think this way because you gotta keep going on. We try to convince ourselves that this is our life now. We try to avoid our thoughts and our feelings and our physical symptoms and by avoiding those. It's almost like just leaving them all inside of us and it's bubbling up. And eventually, there's not gonna be any more space until we address those thoughts and feelings and physical symptoms. But eventually, like I said, we can't avoid it anymore. For me, I started recognizing that I was unhappy and that was the first piece. I was not happy. I was not motivated. I was not excited to get out of bed every day. And I started noticing that I was unhealthy as well. I started feeling headics, I started feeling achy, I stomach hurt, I was not motivated whatsoever. I lost my values that made me get up and excited to start each day. I said to myself, I'm living an emotionally driven life. I was emotional all the time and the emotion was driving who I was. And I said to myself, why can't I be happy and healthy and be a caregiver? Why can't I? I just have to figure it out. Right? Because when we give up everything, and our values. To caregiving, we lose ourselves. And I heard so many people saying, yeah, your identity changes because what you do, what most of us do, you and I do, is we give up everything and we go all in which seems like the logical thing to do, my dad is stage four pancreatic cancer. I'm gonna take care of him no matter what, I promised my mom had, you know, lung disease and and lung cancer and lupus. I'm gonna take care of her and go all in. But at what cost we lose ourselves. And Dennis, when we were having this discussion with Dennis, he's like, yeah. He felt he felt it. And he said, I learned Kathy that I I would tell you that, you know, you can go ahead and do this. This is my off week. So and meaning off week where he felt good between chemotherapy. And he's he would be like, you do what you need to do. I'm perfectly fine. And so he tried to allow me those windows. So that I could go ahead and fill my values. But I'm sure you're thinking I had to give it give it all up for my loved one. I had no choice. And I wanna be your coach and say, do you have to give up everything? Isn't there a different way that you could do it? There may be moments in caregiving where you have to put things on hold for the situation or the purse person. Yes, there is. I mean, there are times where you know that your your loved one is in the midst of the chemotherapy treatment. You have to be there. You have to go ahead and Take care of them afterwards, and they are priority. Yes. But you can choose what parts of you will be caregiving and what parts of you will continue to be pursuing yours. And you're going to learn as caregiving that you don't have to be doing air quotes on all the time or all in all the time. One of the biggest mistakes I see caregivers make is they give it all up, and then they struggle in this transition, meaning going from a valued life where they have their passions in their pursuing their goals and their interactions. And it could be something as simple as they they sing and acquire and now they had to give that up. Or it could be something something like they were going back to school and now they had to put that on hold. Yeah, but they gave it meaning they had to give this up and they struggled with the transition, meaning going from a valued life to being a caregiver where their values are not pursued anymore. Then they get down thinking about the past and what they had and feel hopeless in caregiving.

Speaker 1:

So do you really have to give it all up?

Speaker 2:

Where we're gonna talk about how you may have to restructure your values. You may have to massage things a bit. After my initial month of caregiving, and realizing that I was unhappy and unhealthy. And this happened many times through many different transitions like It even happened when Dennis went through a stem cell transplant. I felt unhappy and unhealthy again, and I had to go back and reassess my values. It happened when I took care of my mom after my dad died. So these life changes happen. So I had to figure out how I could rebirth my values. I knew things couldn't be the same. And I couldn't live in the past. I had to adjust things for this different busy lifestyle. I have to. So how do you figure out your values and your values? You might know what your values are before, and even If you don't, this exercise will help you figure out your values before, your values now, your values going forward. There's two ways to figure out your values. And I took these tips from I I wanna give her credit. And her name is doctor Luwan Marcus, and she's from she's a Harvard Psychologist. I loved her two tips. She said, first one, sit with yourself and ask yourself what is missing right now. Why does it why does it hurt so much? Behind the pain, there is value being violated. Your values are being violated. Maybe you value maybe your value was friendship and travel. And now caregiving has stopped that. And think about that void. Ask yourself what I really wanted to do before caregiving. Or say, I was on the road to blank. You know, Things now have changed and you feel like you'd lost yourself. You feel angry. Ask yourself why. You feel resentful. Ask yourself why from a values perspective. Ask yourself why you feel really sad. Why you feel isolated. These may be fighting with your values. When I lean toward the pain and the reason, I realized I still wanted my health and happiness and that's what grounded me is when I stayed on an exercise route teen when I stayed on a nutrition plan, and I pushed myself to go ahead and do these races and these five k's and ten k's and ran with my running groups, I felt motivated and alive and had to ask myself, how do I how do I do this now? And how how can I get get this same feeling right now? I know what you're thinking right now. I feel guilty. Right? Or I'm thinking I feel guilty because I should value caregiving and

Speaker 1:

you should value your loved one.

Speaker 2:

Yes. You can do both, but I want you to first figure out your value. And so the first one was ask yourself what's missing. Right? The next one and you can flip it. If that's not working, flip it over and we're gonna flip it to a positive. And another way to figure out your values is to lean into the moments you feel best Think of the times when you feel best. What's important right now? Were you feeling your best when you were giggling and laughing with your girlfriends and planning your trip. Was that what you valued and maybe friendship and connect what you valued. What connections make you feel best? How do you feel in the present? And maybe you feel your best when you're having coffee with your loved one in the morning and you value that time. And so you're going to go ahead and if that's a caregiving value, you're gonna focus in on that time and making sure that that's one of the component you value and that fuels you, but you also value your morning time. And that lights you up and makes you feel present with your loved one. Another thing you could ask yourself is how do how do you feel present or where do you feel moments of flow or moments maybe when you're in deep quiet, it just kind of excites you or makes you feel you're alive. For me, I value my alone time in my garden, and that's part of my morning ritual where I can water my flowers, and I can just do my deep thinking. But why is that important to you? Why? What is your value? And why is it important to you? So you get you get the the the flip side. Ask you ask yourself what is missing and why does it hurt so hard or the positive side, what's important. You're gonna figure out what your values are. When you don't address your competing values and you may feel like you're gonna feel like you're suffocated. You're gonna feel that anger, that resentment. And in the midst of it, you're going to go ahead and look at the root cause of your anger or resentment as, like, surface level. Like, you're gonna be angry and resentful at the scheduler because they put you on hold three times. But is that truly the root cause? Or are your or did you not value having your rest and you haven't been able to rest for the last two days? Is that truly yet? Whatever it is, you're gonna feel like you're suffocating. I valued health and it was so important to me and it was something that I knew that I had to continue to do. It was something I was giving up as a caregiver and all it was doing was feeling less and less like myself. Even today, I looked back at the pandemic and gosh, there's so many things we could pull from this, but people shifted their values to family time. And some even learning that they didn't even know they had the value of family time and they started learning how important that was. Well, then when the doors opened and everything opened back up. People had a shift back to work or they had to figure out how they were going to go ahead and move back into that. Some people had that competing priority when they were back in the office or back at work and now they couldn't spend time with their family like they used to.

Speaker 1:

And so you think about that, so they had those competing priorities. Okay. Let's go back to caregiving. Most of us, me including thought that I could just fit my old values and I'm kind of pushing at my, like, a fist into my into my palm of my hand, fit those old values into caregiving with my new caregiving values. Well, my friend, it doesn't work or it won't work very easily. That's for sure. I couldn't train for half marathons that required at least ten hours a week, plus a sleep routine and a nutrition routine. I no longer have the same amount of time to work my side business. Trust me, I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried, but within weeks, I was so exhausted. I was so not productive. I my behaviors and moods weren't there, I had to go ahead. And with not knowing enough about this topic, I just dropped my running. Then I dropped and only worked my side business for just a small moment of time. And now that I know what I know, I had to make adjustments. The reason I did this episode is to give you this awareness now no matter where you're at because if you're brand new to caregiving, this is gonna be great for you. If you are two years into caregiving,

Speaker 2:

you can still work on and and work on some values and start redeveloping your true values and and work on what you value from a caregiving perspective and start mending those together. Or if you're at the last leg of caregiving, you still can figure this out. What I want you to realize though is transitions no matter what they are, are hard. And you are going through or went through a major transition to now. It's major. It's a major life transition. And the second point is stop running away from your feelings. They are telling you something. And you may not be able to fern for example, you may not be able to break down and cry at that given moment due to whatever environment or situation you're in, but go back to it and and listen to it when you are at a quiet space. But stop running away from your for your feelings, they are telling you something. So you wanna listen to them, embrace them, sit with them, Yeah. They they tell you so much. You deserve to feel what you feel. You deserve to be happy during this time in finding small moments of joy, you deserve to tap into what you truly value. At the same time being this caregiver that you are that's amazing and powerful. Number is figure out what it what's important to you and work towards it. What's important to you? If you want to learn what's important to you as you want to go ahead and sing in the choir. And that's really important to you. Work towards it. What can you do? What are the times that you practice? What are the times that you sing? There's gotta be a way where you can go ahead and maybe be fifty percent present and do half of what you did with the choir and start working back into that. You can and restructure your values in caregiving. Once you get through that initial phase, you can restructure it. You can work through it. There's gonna be peaks and valleys valleys. And when you're in a valley, that this at times where you can restructure your values and care giving. Like I said, I couldn't train for that for marathons anymore, but my health was so important to me and I had to figure out how I could do it. So to this day, I still walk into my morning ritual. I walk three miles every day. I know that's for some people, that's an insane amount of time. But for me, that's equivalent of training, but I'm walking. I'm walking the dock. So I get up in the morning. I make my protein shake with spinach and all of that good stuff in it that is gonna help me feel my body. And then I go for a walk. I come back from my walk. I tend to my garden. I go ahead and feed my birds. I drink my shake. I do my journaling. I do some reading. That is my morning time. And I specifically figured out I if I want this, There are times in my caregiving life where I had to get up early. I get up at five AM because my time is important to me and my health is important to me and that's what I value. It helps my physical and a mental health. It helps me. I continue to work my business during caregiving. Now, I wasn't able to work it all the time. I had to prioritize and slow down. But I found through this transition, I found my true business passion. And what I'm doing right now to you is I actually shifted and started my podcast within caregiving, within the two two years, right, smack dab in the middle of my caregiving journey. And so I'm grateful that I revisited my values. I'm grateful that I prioritized and I slowed down. And when I slowed down, I realized where I wanted to go. So it was kind of really neat. I also adjusted caregiving and discovered I valued the quality time. With my loved ones. When I started journaling, what lit me up and, you know, what what brought me moments of joy and all that kind of stuff it was having the quality time with my loved ones. And so I made that a priority. Once I did my morning ritual, I could go ahead and sit with Dennis and and have a breakfast with him. I could go ahead and take care of the crappy stuff like all of the insurance and the paperwork and stuff after I was grounded and I wasn't cranky about it. And so I worked on releasing some things that I didn't value from a caregiving perspective, or I reprioritize those and put those on days. I I engaged my brother in helping. I found efficiencies and let go of some of the other things that were you know, competing with my values as well. And so I hope that this this this thing that I'm sharing today. Sorry.

Speaker 1:

I can't get that out of

Speaker 2:

my mouth here was. I I hope by you thinking through your values, in thinking through what you're feeling will get you to kind of rehash out where you are feeling happy, where you're feeling avoid, where you're feeling annoyance, and really thinking back to, where can I do things better? I wanna close today with a quote that's really gonna leave you with this thought. And I just posted this on my Instagram account on Monday, but the most powerful times in our lives can be the time between times. Or life's transition that give us the opportunity to choose. That's by Bill Crawford. Let me read it one more time. The most powerful times in our life can be be the time between times or life's transitions that give us the opportunity to choose. So thinking about it, we have choices. So my friend, take a moment today or in the next day or so. And Check-in with yourself. Check-in with in on your values and ask yourself what choices do I have? I'm here to cheer you on. I'm here to help you identify that. And so as always my friend, you are the most important piece of this puzzle and you are the most important piece of this journey for your loved one and for yourself. When you are done with caregiving, I want you to look back at yourself and be proud of the person that you became during this challenging time. We'll talk to you again next week. Bye for now.

Navigating Caregiver Transitions and Values
Navigating Caregiving and Personal Values
The Power of Life's Transitions