I am so excited to share this blog post about how girly thoughts affect caregiving. Dr. Teena Cahill, who speaks and writes on caregiving, women, and leadership, is a friend, colleague, and an endorser of The Resilient Woman, and I’m thrilled to welcome her to The Powerful Woman. Read this all the way through; the last line is funny because it is so true. And please remember to share your thoughts on how your girly thoughts affect your caregiving.
By Teena Cahill, PsyD
I’ve been a caregiver to my husband for more than twenty-one years. He is a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and great guy . . . who has many challenges, both physically and cognitively. Over the past few years, I thought I was handling the increasing stress just fine, but recently with the help of Dr. O’Gorman’s great insights about how girly thoughts hinder resilient living, I had an epiphany.
As women, we do all kinds of caregiving . . . kids, husbands, communities, and now the world! But I never made the link between girly thoughts and caregiving until I read The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power. Girly thoughts tell us we must be good at all things—perfect, in fact–and that we must always put others ahead of ourselves or . . . we are not nice people! This thinking can really “take down” a caregiver.
Isolation and depression are two of the biggest risks for caregivers . . . and these girly thoughts can lead us to thinking we must do it all and not ask for help.
Caregiver or Care-Partner?
So, in fighting my girly thoughts, I’ve decided to stop being a caregiver and become a care-partner instead! Just as we ask our kids to take responsibility for their behavior, I asked my husband to think of us as care partners and respond to me with care in ways that are within his ability.
I asked him to make eye contact, to smile, laugh, and, although he has limited energy, to use some of it to reach out be the first to connect with me as I do with him. In fact, as soon as I became aware of my girly thoughts and changed my title from caregiver to care-partner, I felt less alone.
Words matter. Now I have turned my eyesto the world, and I often ask others if I can be on their partner team and they on mine. Suddenly the isolation is lessened both inside and outside my home.
I’ve come to realize that as both women and caregivers, we must challenge our girly thoughts throughout the many decades of life. But on the positive side . . . it’s fun to be in my sixth decade and still working those early girly thoughts years!
Now, if I could just get rid of the wrinkles and those extra pounds! Oops, “Grandma Girly Thoughts” at work!!!
For more information on Dr. Cahill’s, work go to: