Dynamic Choices » Family Wellness

What Do Want? What Do You Need?

Being a care partner for a loved one with MS can result in a roller coaster of emotions and an ever-changing workload. Well-meaning family and friends are often anxious to provide support along with encouragement for you to take care of yourself.

While the research shows that the incidence of illness in care partners is over 50% higher than the average, much of the advice offered by others falls on deaf ears. While it is easy to know what you “should” do to stay healthy, how often do you really make yourself a priority and do what you know is important? How often do you shrug off the advice of friends and professionals and find yourself focusing on your life, day-by-day and even hour-by-hour?

I believe that there are three reasons why the well-meaning comments of others often don’t inspire you to follow their ideas:

  1. The advice is not personalized enough so it is actually achievable in your real life. While it might be a good idea in principle, your specific situation makes it feels like another burden and item on your “to do” list.
  1. The advice is based on someone else’s value system and it doesn’t match up with what is important to you. For example, someone else might find healthy stress release in exercise and thinks you should add this to your week but for you the idea seems only to add to your overwhelming exhaustion.
  2. You lack the internal motivation to follow their ideas. Making changes in your life and in your daily routine are simple if you are highly motivated. If, however, you are feeling pushed by the opinions of others in a direction you don’t want to go, your motivation to follow their advice will be low.

So, the important questions become, “What do you want?” and “What do you need?” These simple questions open up space for you to begin to connect with your own soul and your own body to determine what “feels” like the best path for you. What small step could you take to feel more empowered in your own life while still staying true to what you value most? Rather than focus on eating healthy food every day, perhaps you need to begin with something small such as having an egg for breakfast instead of another piece of leftover pizza. Perhaps it is putting a comfy chair on your front porch so you can sit in the afternoon sunshine with a cup of tea for a short break. Perhaps it is seeking the help of a friend or your doctor to enlist some additional support to decrease the heavy lifting you are doing that is beginning to hurt your back.

Rather than try to make sweeping changes or feel pressured by the priorities and suggestions of others, ask yourself these two simple questions and listen carefully to your body and your soul for the answer.