In this post I want to talk about two different places you can focus your attention.
One will make caregiving much harder than it has to be. (please don’t choose this one)
The other will make a difficult journey much easier for you.
After reading this post and trying this out- you can take it a step further by joining me in my Make Caregiving Easier experience at makecaregivingeasier.com and let’s keep the ball rolling.
If you would rather watch a video on this topic, click here.
I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me about a book (in full disclosure I have NOT read this book…yet). And it has nothing to do with caregiving…BUT the concept she shared with me was incredibly helpful to me AND I think it can be helpful to any caregiver.
The book was called The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan and it's a business book.
BUT, the concept my friend shared was this: In life there is where you are - here. And where you want to be.
So if we apply a caregiving example, you might be in a place where you are burned out, stressed out, overwhelmed, and losing your patience. Maybe snapping at your loved one, rolling your eyes, being short with them, maybe your overeating ice cream at night to cope with stress or maybe over-drinking wine to help you wind down.
Insert any of the behaviors I think most caregivers experience from time to time. That’s where you are.
Where you want to be might be someone who is much more calm, accepting, patient, someone who is eating healthier, connecting more with friends, etc.
Then there is the gain- the thing you probably aren't even realizing. Let me share what that is and why you might not be noticing it.
The gain is all the progress you’ve made along the way. The successes, wins, improvements, things you’ve accomplished.
This could be as simple as spending your days caring for your loved one with dementia while also working part time or caring for kids, or simply keeping up with the house.
It could be that you’ve been able to do things you’ve NEVER EVER thought was even possible, like care 24/7 for someone.
It could be that you’ve been able to learn about a disease that is super confusing and now you know more information about dementia.
Or perhaps you’ve been able to figure out a way to adjust meal times to get your loved one to eat more.
Or you’ve been able to find a way to get your loved one to change their shirt every day- something you weren’t able to do before.
Or you’ve just been able to not take things too personally when the person says something untrue or mean. That’s huge!
The things along the way that were a struggle, that was confusing, that now you are managing well or you’ve figured out or it doesn’t eat away at you as much.
THAT'S the gain.
So many people are so focused on the gap, the things they haven’t yet figured out. The challenges they continue to face. The episodes of snapping back or losing patience.
Putting more emphasis and attention there will make caregtiving harder. It will be more difficult. It will keep you down, lead to guilt. It will lead to you beating yourself- all things that make caregiving harder and does nothing to help your person with dementia.
Or you can focus on the gain- the progress, the tiny wins you’ve made. I bet whatever you are doing right now is something you enver thought you’d be able to do a year ago. Yet here you are. Where are you focusing- the gap or the gain?
You might be thinking that you have nothing in the gain- you don’t think you’ve made much gain.
One of the biggest blocks that will stop you from noticing the gain is all the focus on the gap- what you don’t know what you haven’t done well, the challenges, etc.
Make it a goal to look for the gain. Ask yourself where you have improved. Ask yourself if you are doing anything right now you never thought you’d be able to do.
I’m guessing you’re probably doing things on a regular basis that require such a level of love, commitment, and sacrifice that you never even thought possible.
So let me know in the comments below if you are going to focus more on the Gap or the Gain. I hope you’ll choose the gain.
As always, I’ll be back soon with another blog post, so stay tuned so you don’t miss out. Thank you for your support! Keep up the good work Careblazers!