In our previous post ‘Mindfulness and Its Role in Healing’, we talked about the importance of mindfulness when it comes to providing care. For instance, we’ve noted how mindfulness can be such an effective tool in helping caregivers and clients combat difficult situations. Aside from mindfulness, there’s another equally important tool that can be very instrumental in the process of healing and in providing care, and that is self-awareness. In this article, we will delve into the different ways self-awareness can make someone a better caregiver.

What is self-awareness

In his book Emotional Intelligence, psychologist Daniel Goleman provided the popular definition of self-awareness which is “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources, and intuitions.” Basing off of this alone, we can then deduce that self-awareness is all about an individual’s ability to recognize and understand his or her emotions. Aside from being aware of your own emotions, Very Well Mind wrote that self-awareness also entails having an understanding of the effects of your actions and moods on the emotions of others. Self-awareness can bring in a lot of benefits to those people who have high levels of it. For instance, self-aware individuals tend to have higher self-esteem, a better sense of humour, better relationships, better leadership skills and a better grasp of how outcomes greatly depend on both the effort you exert and the circumstances in place. Beyond oneself, the benefits of self-awareness extend to other people, especially in a caregiver/client relationship.

Self-awareness can help build a therapeutic relationship

The relationship between a caregiver and a client is integral to healthcare delivery and patient safety. According to the most recent study published by the International Journal of Caring Sciences, self-awareness can help caregivers analyse and guide their behaviour in the most genuine way possible. This then fosters a therapeutic environment that promotes an interpersonal relationship between clients and caregivers, which in turn, boosts the progress and increases the quality of the recovery process. Self-awareness can also be helpful on the part of caregivers, as it allows them to process stress and other unresolved emotions better, thus helping them provide better services.

Self-awareness can help you understand clients better

Due to old age, sometimes clients may have a hard time controlling their emotions and understanding themselves. Being self-aware can help you understand their emotions better and see where they’re coming from. In a study published by MIT Sloan Review it was found that people who are more self-aware are much better at identifying which aspects of their personality are required by a given situation, helping them react appropriately. Self-awareness can also be instrumental in enhancing the ability of care providers to assess the behaviours of others and help them realize that each and every client has needs and thoughts that are unique to them.

Self-awareness can promote empathy

Emotional intelligence plays an important role in the delivery of care especially to the elderly, who are often plagued by sadness and other negative feelings. According to a study by Age UK, over two million people in England who are over the age of 75 live alone. Of those two million, over half reported that they sometimes go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. This, in addition to their tendency to feel alone and vulnerable due to circumstances brought about by aging, greatly contributes to the widespread feeling of loneliness and depression that is common among this age group. Caring for the elderly involves just as much emotional care as physical care. Self-awareness enables caregivers to become more emphatic about their client’s feelings and gain the emotional intelligence needed to provide adequate care.

Caring for the elderly can be a demanding yet rewarding task. Fortunately, the right attitude and values will surely make this task a whole lot easier. If you are looking for ways to provide better care for your aged loved ones, check out some of the services Unique Homecare can provide.

For by Jenn Breen