An Invitation to Caregivers Who Struggle with Endings

As women who work in the helping and healing professions, we can often struggle with endings. Beyond the typical traps of over-identification with our role, we may feel a heart-tug if there’s a risk to another (real & or perceived) that in our letting go, leaving and choosing to end a phase of work and or relationship they (may) fall/fail. Others might be disappointed or feel let down as the result of our choices.

Often we’re unaware of what drives our instinctual & habitual choices.

It is not what we choose that matters; our power to influence an outcome lies in our reasons for making a certain choice.

Caroline Myss, Anatomy of Spirit

Enter the value of exploring archetypes.

Archetypes

Archetypes are impersonal patterns of influence that are both ancient and universal, they become personalized when they are a part of your individual psyche.

Caroline Myss

In my life & practice, when struggle ensues with an ending, I get curious about the presence of the shadow of the caregiver archetype (also for some the rescuer, martyr and or mother archetype). This family of archetypes are driven by an unconscious need to help another. The historical & enculturated roots are similar and the content differs based on our “lived experience”. There is a shadow (unconscious) nature of these patterns that can colour the experience of endings. All transitions begin with an ending.

Practically this can look like themes of over-responsibly, fixing, false harmony and control taking hold of our choices. All we feel is struggle, fear then activates more of the survival, unconscious patterns and the next thing you know you’re flapping around in the water. Unsure, confused and frustrated on how best to cross the river before you.

In my coaching & in my own journey as a natural caregiver and professional who practices in the helping and healing professions, I find examining these archetypes a valuable exercise to help me & others see blind spots of relating.

Choice Point: The shift begins with us. 

Our willingness to examine our hidden motivations & fears will liberate us & those in our lives from the bondage of in-complete endings.

Three core capabilities required to transcend these patterns involve: agency, authority & autonomy.

Agency

Agency is our capacity to make our own choices. To be able to care for ourselves.

Self care agency – is a human ability which is “the ability for engaging in self care”. Conditioned by age developmental state, life experience sociocultural orientation health and available resources

Dorothy Orem, Self Care Agency

Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure are factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, ability, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and their decisions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agency_(sociology)

In my coaching philosophy & ethics, agency is a fundamental principle. In Co-Active Coaching, my first training program in life coaching, a corner stone is that the client (you & I) are Naturally Creative Resourceful & Whole.

As a Certified CODE Model Coach™, my entire world view is based on a premise of holism. We’re more than our bodies, our minds. Our world is greater than the sum of its parts. Meta physics expand these concepts. Together they’ve awakened an empowering context for living where Choice is a powerful lever to re-direct our lives. Arriving here however is a journey, a process of re-discovering not only who we are, but what we are.

Authority

Authority is an expression of power.

Power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behaviour

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Like with all matters of expression, there can be a light aspect & a shadow aspect. We learn at a young age what authority is and or is not based on our process of growing up. For some, empowerment is apart of their journey. For many others it is not. Cultural systems have evolved driven by hierarchal systems that position “power” outside of us. Then at some point in our lives we’re tasked with rediscovering a power that resides deep inside. A power that is unshakable, steadfast and true. Some find this through the awakening of faith in their journey of transitions.

Autonomy

Autonomy does not mean that one gets to run rough shot over others in life. It’s a mis-understood concept and capacity.

The quality or state of being self-governing;
Self-directing freedom and especially moral independence

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Discovering & reclaiming our autonomous nature for many isn’t an easy journey. In our western culture we’re truly blessed when we consider the broader context. And, many have still grown up here in the West with conditioned world view that have sought to govern not just one’s autonomy, but also agency and authority.

It is an important part to recognize & remember that part of coming into and leaving our physical bodies is inherently a solo journey. There is a self-governing quality that is inherent in reclaiming autonomy for ourselves & respecting it in another that is an important thread of relating, but not the entire tapestry.

The Power of Perspective

Perspective are the glasses we wear when we look at our life. It is a powerful companion to choice.

If our perspective of life is based on separation, we’re left with managing things, people & situations. We see others as not just different than us, but deeply separate. We see ourselves & each other in a “box”. It’s the great Self-Deception. Like the great leadership book: Leadership & Self Deception, we’re left to see another as a barrier, vehicle or obstacle.

However, if we choose to embody a holistic perspective, we open up to the inherent dance of independence, dependent & interdependent threads of our experiences. If you think about a system, there are many layers and various forms of expression and relations that happen. Nature has & continues to be for me the greatest teacher of this.

Here is a simple analogy of the continuum of relatedness of living systems. The tree doesn’t attempt to tell the flower how to grow and yet they share the soil. Bask in the same sunlight and benefit from the hydration of the rain. Their process of growth & death each contribute to one another in the soil.

Caring

It is a beautiful thing to care. In fact the world needs a lot more of it. And, what we need more of for ourselves & each other is a quality of caring that is positioned in a context of empowerment. This requires each of us as leaders to do our own work.

The degree to which we embark on this journey with positively influence our lives, leadership, service and ultimately our confidence and competence with transitions.

As a great friend & colleague often reminds me, there is a difference between caring & carry-ing.

It can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself & others to wake up to the difference this one important distinction can make in your life.