Is guilt causing you to care too much?
Posted on 23rd June 2022 at 08:44
It’s impossible to care too much!
Over caregiving is one of the easiest actions to justify to ourselves. We rarely see these behaviours as intrusive or negative because they all come with the best intentions.
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What is over caregiving?
Caregiving revolves around the support of another person, such as elderly parents, young children or even a new employee when you’re in a managerial position at work. They are often people who we see as maybe less experienced or able, who have often asked for help in the past with a particular task.
Over caregiving however is when you repeatedly do that extra little bit for those people you care about without always being asked. You might think you’re just taking a job off their plate or offering your advice on how to complete a task. But, if your actions are unsolicited, over caregiving can be detrimental to both your mental health and the person you're caring for.
So, where does over caregiving stem from?
The reason a lot of people over care stems from limited beliefs of not feeling good enough and a need to mood alter away from those feelings as quickly as possible, it can also be learned behaviours from the past where the person feels their worth is based on what they do and not who they are.
Common beliefs are:
You’re not doing enough for your parents
You’re not seeing or talking to the people you care about often enough
You’re not spending enough time with your children because of work
You're responsible for other people’s happiness
You’re putting too much work on your employees at work
You're not putting others needs before your own
At times, these feelings can be overpowering, forcing us into actions that make ourselves feel better without always taking the time to consider how they make those around us feel.
Why is this a problem?
Although it may feel like you’re being helpful, repeatedly breaching the boundaries of what's asked of you and what you feel you should be doing to help, can be really disempowering for the person you’re trying hardest to care for and protect. Also it will make you easy prey for any narcissists in your life.
For ageing parents it can feel like you’re taking away their independence and may raise concerns that they’re becoming dependent on you. And for employees it can make them feel anxious and like you think they’re not capable of doing their job.
The impact of over caregiving isn’t just felt by the people you’re trying to care for either. Over caregivers often put a massive amount of pressure on themselves, spreading themselves too thin which can lead to burnout.
Is there a way to break free from these behaviours?
Rediscovering this balance can be difficult as our actions are always carried out with the best intentions. But, there are steps you can start taking today…
Ask yourself - do I ever feel resentful or worn out when I help others?
If so you are going too far and need to empower, coach and support others but not do it all for them. Give yourself a break, you are not responsible for their feelings, behaviours and choices.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. There is no harm in caring for those around you, but (as silly as it sounds) asking for feedback and checking that all parties involved are happy with the current level of support and boundaries is so important. It’s often a concern that those being over cared for struggle to put into words, so regularly checking in is an easy way to check you’re all on the same page.
Practice acceptance. You aren’t always going to get the balance right, and sometimes people just aren’t ready to accept the help when you think they need it. Respecting their boundaries and practising acceptance with the role you play and their decisions is an important part of overcoming the guilt pushing you into over caregiving actions.
Celebrate the little wins. Yes, those days when you practice saying No to others request for help and instead empower or coach them to do things themselves. Give yourself permission to do something for yourself, relax, have fun and stop taking on others problems and responsibilities. Start to journal or note your success. You are worthy and good enough and have the right to say No and value your own time.
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