Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Attack of the "Shoulds"

I'm sick. I should have gotten a flu shot, but what with one thing and didn't make it onto the to-do list this year. So, here I huddle under the onslaught of attacks of dizziness, aches, shivers, and...the "shoulds."

What, you don't remember that last one appearing on lists of flu symptoms? Hmmm. Perhaps it's not a natural part of the flu, but I (for one) believe it to be a frequently co-occurring disorder - for the obvious reason that having the flu knocks us down and keeps us from fulfilling our erstwhile obligations and commitments.

The "shoulds," of course, are the voice in the back of our heads that tells us what we really should be doing (or thinking, or feeling, or whatever). The "shoulds" are widespread, but I suspect those of us who are caregivers by profession may be particularly prone to this ailment. If you're an individual therapist, for example, it's not like anybody else can step in and cover your cases while you're out sick!

For me, this attack of the "shoulds" was brought on by the fact that today is the high-stakes Open House for a new program I'm going to be staffing. Coupled with the fact that I haven't been working there long enough to have sick time, the sense that, as one of only 6 people who will be staffing programs at the new site, I really should be there propelled me to put on skirt, pearls, and heels and drag myself to work. After all, how would it look for me to be conspicuously absent?

Due to thoughts such as these, I was taken aback by the senior manager telling me to go home. Somehow she didn't see my presence as crucial - and she certainly didn't want me spreading whatever I have! It was a reminder that I'm not as important as I think I am...but self-care is more important than many of us give it credit for. What good would I really have been to anyone if I can barely stand?

None, and I could have actually been a detriment, It's clear that the only thing that actually deserves our "shoulds" is the axiom to care for yourself before you try to care for others. In every other task and role, the world can carry on without our help for a few days!

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