Guide to Becoming a More Self-Confident Caregiver

Friday, February 19, 2021

“Most family caregivers don’t plan to become caregivers – it usually just happens,” says John Moniz, Executive Director of Bridges® by EPOCH at Hingham. “This is a wonderful and selfless gesture, but it also can be very discombobulating. Since family caregivers aren’t often professionally trained, this can lead to a lot of self-doubt and lack of confidence in their abilities. It’s important for caregivers to take steps to become more self-confident because it will help them provide better care for their loved one and allow them to feel more secure and at ease in their role.”

Self-confidence comes with time, patience and giving yourself grace. It’s easier said than done, but there are steps you can begin taking today to help you grow into a true sense of confidence. While there are many great self-help books you can read and support groups who can help you find your footing, here are the basic steps you can take to build your confidence and become the best caregiver you can be.

Step 1: Visualize your success.

The very first step in any journey is to know your destination. As you’re beginning your self-confidence journey, take the time to picture yourself as a “great” caregiver. What does that look like? Feel like? What are the characteristics you’d like to embody and how would you like to view yourself at the end? Sure, visualization sounds a little cheesy and can feel awkward at first. However, there are very real psychological benefits to visualizing success. When you have low self-esteem and don’t have confidence in your abilities, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of negativity. Visualizing “greatness” helps kick you out of that rut and can – perhaps for the first time – give you an inkling of what you can accomplish. Hold tight to that vision and work on it over time. It will help you ground yourself, give you strength to carry on and provide you with a destination.

Step 2: Affirm yourself every day.

In order to be self-confident, you need to have a positive view of yourself. A good way to put yourself on the path to success is to practice affirmations every day. An affirmation is a positive statement that boosts morale that’s said to ourselves as a kind of mantra. These are great tools for silencing your inner critic and giving you more confidence. Some examples of affirmations include:

  • I am strong and capable of doing hard things.
  • I am worthy of love and respect.
  • I will control what I can and let go the things I can’t.

Step 3: Educate yourself.

Many times when we have self doubt, it’s because we’re unsure or don’t know enough about the situation we find ourselves in. Arming yourself with knowledge and education will help you feel more confident and sure about the future. These days, it’s easier than ever to get the info you need via internet searches, online support groups and educational seminars and easy communication with doctors and experts. As you have time, learn as much as you can about your loved one’s health challenges, and you’ll soon find yourself feeling much more in control of the situation (and having much more self-confidence).

Step 4: Surround yourself with cheerleaders.

The people who we spend our time with can either give us energy or sap it from us entirely. Caregiving isn’t done in a bubble; you need the support (emotionally, mentally and physically) from others. Pick and choose your helpers wisely. This includes family members, friends, acquaintances, medical professionals and others. Caregiving isn’t an easy job, but having people whose energies fill you up will make the road a lot easier to walk.

Step 5: Trust your instincts.

You know your loved one probably better than anyone else. Certainly better than any doctor or other medical professional could – more than likely, you have decades of experience with this individual. And that means that you probably know a lot more about caregiving than you think. Pay attention to your instincts and pay attention to your loved one. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane, day-to-day tasks of caregiving and miss the emotional side of things. Is your loved one happy? Content? Noticing those things will give you confidence that, yes, you are doing the right things.

Step 6: Silence your inner critic.

We are all our own worst critics, and it’s difficult to feel confident when you’re inwardly beating yourself up over this and that. It’s essential to tell that inner voice to knock it off – the one that’s telling you that you aren’t good enough, doing enough, smart enough and so on and so forth. It’s hard to change that way of thinking, but it is possible. One good tactic is to recognize when your inner critic is being loud, pause what you’re doing and “flip the script,” as it were. Instead of allowing yourself to continue thinking, “I’m not doing enough,” actively think instead that “I’m doing everything that I can, and I’m doing a good job at it.” This, much like your affirmations or visualization, can feel awkward at first. But trust us, after a while, this will become habit as you rewire your way of thinking to be more positive (and gentle) towards yourself.

Step 7: Care for yourself.

Taking the time to care for yourself is a necessity for you to be the best caregiver possible. Self-confidence depends a lot on being physically healthy, mentally healthy and emotionally healthy. It’s hard to feel positive about things if you’re not feeling your best, so make sure you take time to do things that are good for you (and that you love as well). Besides the critical things, like getting enough exercise, visiting the doctor when needed and eating well, be sure to spend time each day doing something you love. Read a chapter of a book, have coffee with friends, watch a favorite TV show … whatever it is that will bring you joy, go ahead and do it. You’ll find that these moments of joy will provide you with a much needed boost that makes you feel better and, by extension, make you a more confident caregiver.

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