The Cheerful Caregiver

Caregiver, have confidence!

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Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. "“ Norman Vincent Peale

I have a confession to make: I frequently feel inadequate. Acutely inadequate. As a wife, as a nurse, as a writer, as a woman, as a caregiver. Often, these feelings overwhelm me to the point I find it difficult to start or continue a project. After all, why begin something if you believe you won't do it well? Or won't even finish it?

Take this past Thanksgiving. I invited my siblings to come from out of state, and they graciously accepted. I planned a menu and some activities, but as the date approached, doubt crept in. I felt I wouldn't be able to pull off a large dinner for nine in my small kitchen. I believed my siblings wouldn't be interested in the activities I'd planned, and that they'd be bored and regret they'd come. I was afraid people wouldn't like some of the dishes I planned to serve, as I diverged from a strictly traditional meal in order to diversify the menu.

The doubt became louder as the date loomed closer. Viewing my cluttered guest room, a voice deep down scolded me for being a sloppy housekeeper. After the guests arrived, I became ill with a nasty virus, and my coping skills correspondingly declined. I had a hard time thinking clearly and not only wasn't very talkative but actually found all the hubbub annoying. I turned churlish and then berated myself for not behaving as a charming hostess. even as I tried to soldier on as best I could. Obviously, I told myself, I was a failure. Worse, it was no less than I expected.

After my guests had departed, I even chided myself for my feelings of failure. Basically, I guess I felt I was a failure at being a failure. How much more absurd can you get?!

And so, with this realization, I've decided it's time to stop wasting energy on these negative feelings. Starting today, I'm going to begin focusing on the things I do well, rather than those areas in which I'm lacking. I urge you to do the same.

None of us does everything well. And you know what? That's OK. I will never have a completely clutter-free home. On the other hand, I do a good job at keeping my bathroom clean. I'm a good cook. I'm a good listener. I'm a reliable employee. I tell (and show) my husband how much I love him. And I treat others with kindness.

Aren't those things far more important than having a clutter-free home?

This week, I'm going to ignore the fact I'm inadequate in many respects "“ because I'm more than adequate in many other ways, and that's what I choose to focus on from now on. I'm going to reprogram the audio tape that runs in my head so that all the negative messages are erased, and it only plays reinforcing messages. This week, I will reclaim my self-confidence. I invite you to join me.