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In caring for the elderly, how much pain can you handle?

Updated on September 10, 2012
Are you in the danger zone when it comes to caring for others?
Are you in the danger zone when it comes to caring for others?

When you care for others, you are exposed to their pain. Although you may try to insulate yourself from hurt, you have to accept your human frailties. When you are a care giver, you will be exposed to hurt and pains. You can attempt rationalizing it, or excusing it, but it does not make it go away.

After enough exposure to pain, you will feel it in your body, and in your flexibility. Pain has a way of making you less flexible. It also has a way to show up in bodily hurt and physical pain. What you may consider just some ‘aches and pains’ may be your body’s way of letting you know that you are taking on more pain than is good for you. The more you are caring for others, the more of their pain you will be exposed to. You may assume that your training or experience makes you immune to such issues and you would be mistaken. Pain and hurt have a way of transferring from one person to another. Trying to use reasoning to make the pain go away or insisting that there is ‘no way’ that you are taking on others pain may help you cope in the short run, yet eventually you will take on the pain.

In taking on others pain, you will need to know what your limitations are. You will need to recognize when your own pain level is being ignored. Although love may motivate you to do the care giving that you are doing, you still need to take care of yourself as well. When you collapse from your own pain and weariness, you will not be able to care for others no matter how much you love them.

Some of the signs that indicate that you are in too much pain include the following.

  1. Skipping meals to make more time.
  2. Putting off going to the bathroom so that you are not interrupted.
  3. Caring for others when you are physically ill.
  4. Not bathing or caring for your own hygiene.
  5. Loss of energy from caring for others.
  6. Loosing your resiliency with others.

Pain comes in many forms. One of the ways that you may be taking on pain is by blocking your own emotions. Blocking emotions is never a good option. The blocking of emotions, be they your own or blocking out the emotions of others always has fallout. When you block your own emotions, you shut off some of your own vitality. It is that same vitality that enables you to care out of love. Shutting down your own emotional signals or emotions will interfere with your own ability to care.

It is a mistake to assume that the pain does not impact you. It will break you and take away your sense of being whole. Instead of denying such broken-ness, you may need to embrace it and understand your own pain. It is often from your own brokenness that you find the ability to connect with others pain without it engulfing you.

When you are caring for others, you may exaggerate your own importance. You may assume that it is only because of the care you are providing that a particular person is alive or that the place where you work is accomplishing things. Such exaggerations are mental distortions. Engaging in such mental distortions is another sign that you are in too much pain. Your ability to be ‘with’ another person and care for them is impacted by your ability to be honest with yourself. When you are not able to be honest with yourself, you are unable to be honest in your caring for others as well.

The caring may make you feel more ‘alive’ which is often considered good. Compassion is often infectious. Compassion is good, unless you are putting more energy into caring for others at your own demise. It is one thing to step out of your comfort zone, it is quite another to loose your own passion while caring for others. When your own passion for people or yourself is diminished, you need to make some changes. Loosing your own passion for life carries with it an expensive price tag. Once you loose your own passion, it is often a hard thing to recover and rediscover.

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