Updated: Jun 29
Authentic Caregiving: Differentiating Between Genuine Giving and Obligation-Driven Roles
Obligation itself is not inherently bad for a caregiver, as caregiving often involves a sense of responsibility and commitment toward the well-being of others. However, caregiving out of a strong sense of obligation can lead to relationship debt which gives emotional depletion.
Be brave enough and honest enough to ask yourself if you are experiencing these negative implications of caregiver obligation:
Feeling obligated to constantly provide care without taking breaks or seeking support can lead to burnout. Caregivers may neglect their own needs, both physical and emotional, resulting in exhaustion, stress, and decreased overall well-being.
When caregiving becomes solely driven by a sense of obligation, caregivers may start to feel resentful toward the person they are caring for or the situation itself. This resentment can strain relationships and impact the quality of care provided.
"Obligation equals relationship debt which gives emotional depletion." – Brooke Castillo
3. Lack of Choice:
Obligation can sometimes override personal choice and autonomy. Caregivers may feel trapped in their role, unable to prioritize their own goals and aspirations due to the perceived duty they have to fulfill.
4. Neglected Self-Care:
Obligation can lead caregivers to neglect their own self-care practices, such as exercise, relaxation, and social activities. This can result in a decline in their own physical and mental well-being, which ultimately hampers their ability to provide effective care.
5. Limited Support:
If caregivers solely rely on a sense of obligation, they may hesitate to seek help or accept support from others. This can create a sense of isolation and prevent caregivers from accessing resources that could alleviate some of their caregiving burdens.
How to know if you are being an authentic caregiver:
Here's the toughest part. Be strong enough, bold enough, and honest enough to ask yourself how you truly feel about being a caregiver. That's right, tell yourself the truth. This takes extreme vulnerability but will reveal if you are being authentic to yourself and to the one you are caring for.
Are you a caregiver because you genuinely want to? Do you really like the reason you are on this journey?
Would you offer the same types of support to a total stranger?
Are you a caregiver out of a sense of guilt or shame?
Are you truly doing what you love to do? Or, would you trade it for something else?
Keeping your thoughts, feelings, and actions in mind while caring for your loved one will help you be the best caregiver possible. However, if after reading this you realize caregiving isn't helping you or the one you are caring for, please, reach out to me so we can talk. Being a caregiver isn't for everyone. Just because you promised your loved one you would never "put them in a nursing home" doesn't mean you should deplete your emotional well-being.