Whether you are caring for your child, your parent or other loved one, a pet or your self, it's tough work. Fact is, we need each other and we also need to be needed. But how do we draw the line between giving too much and not enough? I think the answer lies in intention and attention.
While coming at care giving from a place of love and nurturing is often natural, many times it isn't. While it may give us tremendous satisfaction, it is difficult. And that's why we need to pay attention to the intention.
As a professional care giver over the course of 5 decades, I have given lots of thought to care giving. Here are my guiding principles of care giving, in ABC format, developed over my lifetime:
A = agape, universal, unconditional love. This is the golden rule - love others as you would wish to be loved.
B = benevolence, the wish for only good things for the person being cared for.
C = compassion, the capacity to feel with the other, both their positive and negative feelings.
D = devotion, to do our best in the work of care giving
E = equality, to believe that everyone is deserving of being cared for.
F = fidelity, to stay faithful to these principles, even when the work gets difficult.
G = gratitude, to the other, and to ourselves, that we are capable and trusted to give care.
H = humility, to accept our limitations, to know when to ask for help, and to be able to accept that one day we will all need care.
I = integrity, to understand that all care giving needs to be motivated and empowered by these principles.
J = justice, to acknowledge that some will need more than others and that others will have more to give, and these things may not equal out, and that we are not sitting in judgement.
K = kindness, even if you have nothing else to give but a kind word or a smile, that is still something.
L = laughter, so many good things happen when we laugh! We release feel good chemicals, we super oxygenate our brain, we lower our pressure and we de-stress.
M = mentoring, there's always something to learn along the way and we are all teachers and role models in everything we do.
N= nurturing, its a great feeling to foster seeds of caring in others. This is how we heal the world, ourselves and each other!
O = openness, to learning, growing and healing in every moment of every day.
P = positivity, which is not a natural human trait, no matter what any one tells you. Getting positive and staying positive is hard work, needs to be learned and needs to be reinforced in everyone we meet, every day, because we all struggle at some point.
Q = eQuilibrium, finding the balance between care giving and our other roles in life, including care for ourselves.
R = respect, that each person is both an expert on and a mystery to themselves, that we all want love and that we all desire meaning in our lives, even though we may not always show it.
S = satisfaction, we all want it, we are all transactional to some extent, and all of our time is finite and thus valuable.
T = trust, hard to derive any value in a relationship without it.
U = understanding, got to do our best to get it and give it.
V = value, means different, but not so different, things to each person. Best to define and redefine this early on and often in professional care giving relationships to stay honest and focused on all of the above.
W = wisdom, your truth, my truth, our truth are not all the same but we can, and need to, learn from each other.
X = eXcellence, aim high as nothing less than excellence will do when you come at things with love.
Z = zen, this is the "Je ne sais quois..." of relationship, the law of attraction, the mystery of it all. What you see in me, what I see in you, sometimes we need a fresh pair of eyes to see it. And when you find someone who reveals your self to you, that is where healing really thrives.