Caring for a spouse, aging parent, or relative often takes a lot of time, energy, patience, and creative thinking. Whether you live in the same house or make regular visits to help out with everyday tasks, caregiving can call upon a level of strength and fortitude you never imagined having to put to use. Being a helper means that you are putting a whole lot of attention towards meeting your care partners’ practical and emotional needs, and sometimes loved ones aren’t so willing to accept assistance or ideas. There may be long-standing family conflicts, hurt feelings, or communication patterns that make it challenging for you to feel peaceful about caring for someone.
Any of these factors can make the caring relationship fraught with stressful experiences. It is important to recognize that your needs are important too! You have points of view that matter, wisdom to share, and legitimate concerns about your loved one’s safety or well-being. You also have other things happening in your life that beckon for your attention, such as career aspirations or goals you’re working towards, relationships that need time and love, and other interests and passions you enjoy being part of.
While it makes sense that you have probably needed to reschedule and re-prioritize some of your activities, I am inviting you to make your voice heard. I think of Voice as being the essential part of you that knows who you are and what you care about.
The first step is noticing your voice- Tuning in. Next comes be curious about what the message is- Exploration. Then it’s time to share that message with others- Expression. Your Voice is a powerful tool of expression, and can be shared with yourself, close friends and family, and even with the wider community.
Here are 3 ways to start exploring your Voice:
Pause and breathe. Each time you notice a stirring of emotion, pause for 10 seconds and breathe. Acknowledge that you are feeling __________, and that it has a message to share with you.
Keep a small notebook to write in. (Be sure that it’s for you only, and that nobody will read it). When you have a frustrating or stressful encounter with your loved one, spend 5 minutes writing your thoughts down. A day or two later when you’re feeling calm, read through it and see if anything important stands out to you. This can help you to identify where you may need to speak up and share your opinions or honour your needs a little differently.
Get involved in a singing group. Singing is really good for the spirits. Letting yourself have fun with tone and a range of sound is a terrific activity for exploring your own Voice in a natural way, with the vocal instrument itself.
Impromptu Rock Choir meets weekly on the North Shore and in Vancouver: http://www.impromptumusic.ca/
Zoey Wren leads a song circle in Port Moody and occasionally in Vancouver: http://zoeywren.com/work-with-me/womens-heartsong/
North Shore Community Drum Circle meets monthly: http://www.drummingandhealth.com/health/spirit-drum/
What helps you share your Voice?