Is caring for a loved one taking a toll on your other relationships?

Often we are so busy paying attention to what we see, hear, or feel in the moment, that we forget what is beneath the immediate surface of our daily lives. Most of us have a wealth of responsibility these days, and if it becomes necessary to add an elderly parent or a sick or disabled child into the mix, our already precarious balance is thrown off kilter. How do we prioritize when there is no time to do so? We  have only two hands, two eyes, two ears, two legs, two arms…not enough to care for every one in our lives, hardly enough to go around. How can we tend to a sick parent and also help our children with their homework? How can we tend to a developmentally delayed son while being mindful that our daughter doesn’t feel left out?

We see ourselves as limited beings with the ability to do only so much, before we stress out, thinking that we’re neither magicians nor miracle workers. How can we expect ourselves to perform the impossible? How can we keep all the balls in the air and remain sensitive to everyone in our lives? How can we continuously give as much as possible and yet avoid overloading and stressing ourselves as we focus on our neediest relatives? Does someone have to suffer?

The answer is, no one has to suffer, not even you. It is possible to keep our bearings in the worst of circumstances and also forgive ourselves when we can’t or don’t see how we can. People are resilient, even more so when they understand some basic truths about life.

“I had been sitting there thinking my usual worried, negative thoughts about myself and my life in general, when I suddenly realized that I would never have any happiness in my life if I kept thinking that way. Feelings of joy and hopefulness washed over me, and I cried tears of gratitude.”
Kimberly Porter – 3 Principles trainer…

Care-taking does not have to take a toll on us, but it will, every time in fact, if you think it does. My point is that thinking makes it so. Thinking makes us stress, thinking makes us feel fulfilled, sometimes over the same exact circumstance, sometimes just moments apart. Does this sound at all familiar? Do you notice yourself feel stressed and incompetent one moment and challenged and fulfilled the next? Have you ever thought, gee, if only I knew what creates each of these experiences I’d know how to respond rather than react, I’d know how to enjoy my intimate relationships and how to see difficult relationships as not at all difficult, and in fact, feel very grateful to have the opportunity to help and/or advocate for someone other than myself. Just realizing that you’ve helped someone get through the day with a little more ease, can bring major ‘feel good’ rewards.

Sure, if we’re over-tired or the person we’re helping becomes cranky and perhaps even downright insulting, it could set into motion a downward spiral. First we may feel overwhelmed, then resentful, then angry. Our feelings provide a very useful barometer for us but probably not in the way you would imagine. It appears as though our feelings are alerting us to something that is wrong out there in our environment, which would elicit thoughts such as: “There she goes, cranky again! Doesn’t she realize how much I do for her? Some gratitude, how pathetic.” Anyone off on that track would be heading for a really bad mood, and low state of mind, if the thinking continues along that path.

“All feelings derive and become alive, whether negative or positive, from the power of Thought.”
Pg. 25, The Missing Link by Sydney Banks

Humans are made to take care of others. I just flashed on those wonderful National Geographic images of chimps cleaning each others fur, so I guess animals are made to take care of one another too!

Sometimes we give 95% and get only 5% in return. Sometimes we give 20% and receive 120% in return. We really don’t need as much attention, confirmation, validation, as we might think. But we will need it if we think we need it!

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
William Shakespeare

The truth is that even if we think something, it’s only so, to the degree that we buy into it. Isn’t that great? It means that humans don’t have to bring every thing they think to outward expression, we can let a thought go and it will have no affect on us or anyone else, it’s simply a fleeting thought, a blip on the screen of life. What we don’t endorse, won’t affect us. A teacher of mine (when I was learning about the *Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness and how they explained the full range of the human experience) once said: You can write a check for a million dollars but it won’t be worth anything more than the paper it was written on unless you endorse it. The same is true for what we think. We don’t have to endorse any thoughts that are not productive and helpful to think.

The answer lies in finding gratitude, maintaining a calm, nice state of mind, and dismissing expectations that creep in about how the other should react, respond, or treat us. That’s dependent upon the other person’s state of mind, not on you. However, you’ll automatically and effortlessly, be more sensitive to everyone’s needs if your mind is free of worries, fears, expectations, and what ifs. We have the ability to go in the direction of a clear mind, uncontaminated by personal thought, where we have access to wisdom and common sense. All we can do is put the best foot forward, help as much as we can; the rest is up to nature.

*I owe my understanding of the Three Principles to Sydney Banks who discovered them quite by accident in 1973. Syd was an ordinary man who had an extraordinary experience who tirelessly taught others what he had found. These Principles provide so many explanations to what the field of psychology had been seeking.They demonstrate how all people are innately mentally healthy and can wake up to the habitual thinking they have unwittingly developed which will obscure their ability to be healthy and happy. My life, and so many others, continues to improve, thirty years later, and what we learned continues to evolve over time. That is why I dedicate my life’s work to sharing this with others, so that your life situation can improve as well.

Emerge AS