Cancer Care: 6 ways you can beat Cancer Caregiver Perfectionism!
It is extremely common and almost too easy to feel that everything needs to be perfect, including yourself, when you are a cancer caregiver. Cancer caregiver perfectionism is something that almost every caregiver feels at some point, the main reason being that you have taken another life into your hands.
This perfectionism can cause elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it is extremely important to remember that mistakes happen and that no one expects you to be perfect, especially the person you are taking care of.
Here are 6 ways that you can beat cancer caregiver perfectionism!
1. Categorize your goals
It is important to distinguish between attainable and unattainable goals, especially as a cancer caregiver. You are already giving so much time and energy into helping someone else, and it is important to know that the goals you are working towards can be achieved.
Make a list of goals circle the ones that you know you can achieve, and be honest with yourself. Mark the goals that may take some time to achieve and the ones that are immediately achievable.
Then, look at the goals that seem unattainable, see if there is any way that you can tweak them to make them more realistic and categorize them accordingly. You can work with your cancer patient on this too.
See what they feel strong enough to do every day, ask them how you can help. Don’t push yourself to do things that they don’t need because in the end you will end up spreading yourself too thin and you won’t be able to achieve the important goals for your patient.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself
No one expects you to be perfect all of the time, especially the patient that you are caregiving for. Human beings make mistakes and you are not an exception to that. You are putting your whole life on hold to help another person, mistakes are going to happen.
Take a break from caregiving, take some time for yourself, take up a new hobby and see what it means to fail. With time you will gain more patience, self-compassion, and a tolerance of failure.
The reason for taking up a new hobby will help is because when you understand what failing means and feels like, it makes it easier to handle failure in real situations.
And when you do make a mistake, even during a caregiving situation, understand that it is not the end of the world. Forgive yourself and move on, solve the problem and adjust because that is all you can do.
3. Forgive yourself for mistakes
The best way to learn is by making mistakes. Understand that the mistake you have made doesn’t define who you are, but how you handle the mistake does.
It can be uncomfortable when you make mistakes, but taking that leap out of your comfort zone is the best and the only way to learn and move forward. And as a cancer caregiver, making mistakes can feel like they will have disastrous consequences.
However, keep in mind that not all mistakes have those consequences, try not to get caught up on the small mistakes that you make. When you make a mistake don’t be so hard on yourself and remember that by handling this situation and learning from it, you will be able to handle similar situations better or avoid them completely in the future.
Remember that mistakes are natural, especially in cancer caregiving. Be as patient and forgiving with yourself that you are with others.
4. Take time for yourself and look within
Spend some time every day looking within yourself. Reevaluate your motivations, push yourself to understand your strengths and weaknesses, completely understand yourself. When you are able to have a full understanding of who you are and why you do the things that you do, you will have a better understanding of how you take on and deal with difficult situations.
You will be able to better prepare yourself for every situation that comes your way and you will be able to handle it like a professional.
Taking time for yourself can feel extremely selfish as a cancer caregiver but it is also important because if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot fully take care of another person.
By allowing yourself some time each day to self-reflect, you are learning about yourself, your motivations, and your goals, and this will help you reach your full potential as a caregiver.
5. Don’t focus on the negative
As a perfectionist, it can be extremely easy to only focus on the negative things that you have done and forget all of the positive things that you have done.
This is even worse for a cancer caregiver because you have another life in your hands. It is easier to focus on all of the negative things that happened in a day or a week. However, focusing on the negative will only make your perfectionism worse, it will drive you crazy and make it harder for you to keep helping your patient with a positive attitude.
Take some time to focus on the positive things you have done and the positive impact you have made on another life. Write down all of the things that you are proud of yourself for accomplishing every day, and practice gratitude with yourself.
If you only focus on the negative you will have a negative outlook which will lead to a worsening situation for the person that you are trying to help. Instead of getting angry about the things that you cannot control, focus on the things that you can. Stay positive and focus on the good.
6. Accept and celebrate who YOU are
It is important to remember that there is no one on this planet that is the same as you. The skills and ideas that you offer are unique to you. There is no one better suited to take on the cancer caregiving job than you are.
No one is expecting you to be perfect and no one is comparing you to anyone else.
You do not have to be like anyone else and you do not need to fit in. Just know that the only expectation that anyone has is for you to always do your best that you possibly can in every situation. Remember that your best may change depending on the situation and that sometimes the best you can do is just get out of bed, and there is nothing wrong with that.
You need to take care of yourself and love yourself before you can expect to be able to take care of another person.
Being a cancer caregiver is a nearly impossible task. It can feel like you have to be perfect all of the time and like everyone is expecting the world out of you. You are now responsible for another life other than your own, you have taken on a great amount of responsibility for the people that you love, and that does not go unnoticed.
If you try to maintain constant perfection, you will drive yourself crazy. Instead, try and find the positive in every situation. When you make a mistake, remember that it is an opportunity to learn and grow. When you feel like you just can’t do anything right, try and focus on the smaller and immediately attainable goals instead of the ones that need adjusting and may take some extra time.
No one needs you to be perfect, they just need you to do your best. Take some time to self-reflect and take care of yourself, recharge and stop driving yourself crazy over the small things. What you are doing as a cancer caregiver is an amazing gift. Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself, and keep doing the best that you can.
*Photos and Videos documented with the consent of the participants.