Much has been said about the need for self-care and I know, as a mother of four, that good advice about self-care often goes in one ear and out the other. It’s not that you don’t care about yourself but you love your family, feel responsible and there just doesn’t seem enough time in the week. I’m familiar with this impeccable logic and I have experienced the dusty road it can lead to. So let me take a few minutes of your day to talk about The Caretaker and why she is important.
The Caretaker is an archetypal energy, a ‘psychological pattern’ as it were, available to all human beings. Typically, mothers, teachers and nurses are driven by a strong inner Caretaker. This drive can be used to serve others as well as to take care of one’s own needs. In truth, we all have the need to care for ourselves and we all have the need to serve others.
The danger zone of The Caretaker continuum lies at its two extremities. At one end, there is risk of ‘burnout’ as the personality strives to care for more than is humanly possible. At the other end, feelings of helplessness may dominate and the personality may struggle to care for itself or have difficulty seeking help from others. Archetypal energies have a need to find balance. If they cannot find it in the personality, they may seek it in relationship to others. Thus, with a predisposition to care for others, Caretakers may find themselves drawn to situations, relationships and careers where they continually express their caring.
A danger for Caretakers can be that they find themselves in a perpetual giving mode and forget the need to care for self. If you have a strong Caretaker, it is extremely important to balance your need to care for others with your need to care for yourself. By doing this, you reduce the chances of ‘overcaring’ for those around you. By ‘overcaring’ I mean taking care of people to the extent that they are not required to take responsibility for themselves.
By not ‘overcaring’ for others and ‘undercaring’ for yourself, you are more likely to enjoy respectful, mutually supportive, balanced relationships. Furthermore, balanced Caretakers actually have a higher capacity to care for others because their energy and vitality is replenished on a regular basis. When stressed-out mothers find themselves at the limits of their capacity, The Caretaker is out of balance. In traditional societies, it was understood that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’ and mothers had strong support networks.
One way to begin to bring a stressed Caretaker back in to balance is to strengthen your support network (allow others to care for you). Another way is for the Caretaker to let go of some responsibilities, even in small ways, and allowing other people (maybe your children, maybe your spouse) to bring their own Caretaker more in to balance. A little pampering can also go a long way to letting yourself and the world know that you are a person of value and worth. And as you begin to take care of your Inner Child in new ways (by the choices you make and things you do), the world begins to meet you at your new point of reference and you begin to enjoy the benefits of greater balance.
Sometimes, one of the most empowering things you can do for your family is to make the decision that your needs are as important as everyone else’s. When you bring your Caretaker more in to balance, you role-model healthy self-esteem for your children (boys as well as girls). Children who grow up knowing how to honor and balance their own Caretaker are more likely to enjoy balanced relationships. When you learn to take care of your Inner Child, therefore, you not only help yourself, you improve your relationships, you become a better role model to your children, increasing their chances of having balanced partnerships when they grow up and enabling them, in turn, to create home environments that nurture healthy, balanced grandchildren. And this is how you can change the world by changing yourself!
The reason I’ve chosen this Native American mother to represent The Caretaker is that her hands are free to care for others but she also carries her baby with her wherever she goes. If you need some time out to find your center and take care of your Inner Child, we invite you to come visit us at Creative Coaching. We offer a peaceful place for Caretakers to rethink, recalibrate and find ways to move toward balance.
Please visit our website for more information about our Transformational Parent Coaching and Life Coaching for Women packages: Starting in April, Creative Coaching will be joining forces with a holistic company that offers integrative bodywork for helping caregivers and children experiencing difficult times of transition or loss. More information about this new initiative will soon be available on our website at www.creative-coaching.com.
Hope to meet you some time at Creative Coaching, where we have empowering conversations!
D. Biteena Frazier
701 Melvin Ave, Suite B, Annapolis 21401