Amidst all of the talk of New Years Resolutions and New Year, New You, it can be tempting to judge ourselves and our actions.
Sometimes, especially early January when the days are short and cold in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be helpful to just rest and relax. See the “activity” of resting that occupied most of my Saturday in Spain…just watching the people playing in the ocean. (Yes, still recovering from the October 23 Covid case…be careful out there, this is sadly not over as many would like to believe.)
Obviously, it’s not great for anyone to be judging and constantly trying to “improve” ourselves and it can potentially be setback inducing for those families who are supporting someone in recovery. I’m not into resolutions myself, since they are not typically useful to me.
If you’re on social media, seeing these messages on TV and in print/online news, it can feel like pressure to change and/or improve oneself. Sometimes, all we need is to rest. Not sleep necessarily, simply not doing much of anything or doing something relaxing.
Often it’s hard for families new to this to get the support needed to learn how and why all of this messaging to constantly improve can be detrimental. And for seasoned professionals it is super old news…so how are we as a field to support family caregivers new to this daunting caregiver role without heaping on more judgement as they learn the whys and hows that are so contrary to popular opinion.
It can be as simple as love and curiosity and not judging. Far too often still, I hear from parents and other family caregivers who are learning the ropes that they feel judged by the loved one’s team. Yes, parents and other family caregivers make mistakes. And many clinical colleagues have shared with me that your own parents have made huge mistakes that helped contribute to your own eating disorders and suffering, which of course might make it hard to have compassion for parents. Sadly, parenting does not come with instructions. In over 20 years of coaching family caregivers, I have not yet met one who doesn’t love their person to the ends of the earth. Have I met some who are doing harm in some way including dieting and weight loss messaging? Absolutely. And it was done out of purely wanting better for themselves and their loved ones, every time.
We can help create healing for the individual client and their whole family system when we approach with love, curiosity and the perspective of a teacher. Teachers don’t judge students for not knowing, they don’t assume they’re ignorant or have malicious intent for not knowing. Teachers (usually) love, have curiosity and they teach.
When the family caregivers are provided with support from a perspsective of love, curiosity, not being ‘broken’ or in need of ‘fixing’ they heal and also help heal their loved one with the eating disorder. We are finally seeing the data on improved outcomes when the family caregiver has their own support.
It’s exciting to see the shifts happening in this field regarding including family caregivers in the treatment team. This is progress.
If you or your team or you as a parent coach would like training on how to effectively help family members become; calm, compassionate, confident and competent caregivers, check out our Eating Disorder Caregiver Coach (EDCC) Training.
I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to comment and let me know.
Cheers to a new year of including rest on your TO DO list. We can do this, together.