In the tradition of “positive psychology,” we encourage family caregivers to know and use their signature strengths. These personality traits can become reliable tools. Courage, for example, has many faces beyond bravado and derring-do. See if you recognize yourself in these descriptions.
Honesty and integrity are facets of courage. Are you a person who insists on living by your values? Do you prize authenticity? Courage is at the root of what it takes to
- know your limits and take respite breaks when you need to;
- talk compassionately with a family member about behaviors that are not healthy;
- ask a sibling to participate more in helping out with Mom or Dad.
Steadfastness. Another aspect of courage is the willingness to continue even if the going gets tough. Think about ways you advocate for your parent with the healthcare system. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself calmly handling once-unimaginable tasks in personal care or wound care.
Maintaining focus. Courage also involves feeling several things at once, yet staying focused. A courageous person may feel fear. But they steady themselves with a belief that they can have an impact. The thoughtfully courageous assess situations with eyes wide open. They see the risks. Rather than run, they look for ways to reduce the chance of a negative outcome.
Tempering qualities. The roar of a lion—a blustery manner or righteous indignation—may look like strength. But that type of courage is not usually constructive in family dynamics. Better to remember that lions can be tender too, and they work for the overall good of the pride.
Courage may not be something you think of as your signature strength. This fresh look at the many sides of courage may help you see the daily bravery you exhibit as a family caregiver.