Fear is a normal response when a loved one is in crisis. No kidding, right? It seems it should not have to be said…and yet for the clinicians who work with people in crisis daily and are used to the constant parade of crisis situations coming their way, crises become common. So, it makes sense that seasoned clinicians might find it a bit of an overreaction when parents come to them with our hair on fire with a situation they’ve likely seen hundreds of times.
Fear can take away our capacity to engage our wise minds and can spiral us into trying to handle what is not ours to handle.
The line between being a supportive caregiver or parent, and enabling a family member struggling with an eating disorder can become blurry when fears run the show. Caregivers need support to walk that fine line. That’s the role we provide here at Hope Network, LLC with our 1:1 coaching and groups.
Enabling is defined as ‘Protecting someone from experiencing the full consequences of their behavior.’ For more on enabling, see our post from June 2022 on enabling here.
Caregivers are absolutely terrified beyond description that our loved one is disappearing before our eyes – regardless of their weight…they are absent from their body as if their true self has been hijacked by this ‘ed monster’ and we cannot find them.
At some point all family caregivers learn how deadly eating disorders are. That is terrifying. We need help to calm the fears. Then we can be calm, compassionate, confident caregivers.
5 Tips to Tame Fears
- Separate your child/family member from the eating disorder.
- Practice EXTREME self-care.
- Learn as much as possible about these complex, deadly illnesses.
- Get support from someone who knows eating disorders well.
- Work with a coach or therapist trained in taming fears.
There are different modalities and approaches to helping caregivers tame fears. Clinicians often will use approaches such as: CBT, ACT, DBT and more. Today I’m going to share a somatic approach that we often use in coaching.
One way in which we work with the client to TAME THE FEAR:
- Name the fear
- Feel the fear in the body
- Picture and describe the fear’s appearance
- Remember a loving feeling and project that loving feeling onto the fear.
- Repeat #4 a few times for less than a minute.
It’s not as simple as those 5 steps but it takes less than 30 minutes and can take folks quickly from a fear level 10 to a level 3-5. Then when they are calmer we can make a plan to address the current situation. This takes love, compassion, belief that the CLIENT IS INDEED; Creative, Resourceful and Whole.
Results: Caregivers stop losing ourselves and become more effective at supporting our loved one.
I hope that this gives you some ideas and hope to begin to experience the benefits of learning new ways to tame fears.
Keep loving, keep supporting, be present. And, most importantly, keep YOU on your TO DO LIST. Remember, self care is not selfish and will help increase your loved one’s chances of recovery.
If you or someone you know needs more support in taming fears and being more calm, compassionate and confident in their caregiving, please reach out. As I have always said; you do not have to do this alone. Here is a list of our resources:
Weekly Online Group Support for family caregivers is each Wednesday at 6pm CST (USA) and is open to families anywhere. https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/
Monthly Free Online Group Support for family caregivers is the 1st Wednesday of each month at 5pm CST. https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/
HUG Kits provide Hope, Understanding and Guidance for families who are not able to access the individual or group coaching. HUG Kits: https://beckyhenry.com/group-phone-support/ are an affordable way to get the 10 basic concepts she has seen that family caregivers need help with while supporting a loved one in treatment.
Recovery Roadmaps Webinar Series – Becky is co-founder of Recovery Roadmap Specialists with Wendy Wright, CEDS and Ibbits Newhall. The series, “Going From Panic to Plan” is available at https://www.recoveryroadmaps.com/ For your treatment team, we can custom package these topics. We’ve re-recorded them into 12 very short videos and have worksheets that accompany them. Ask us about our Affiliate and Subscription options today.