The Lens We View The World Through
The Influence of Beliefs - Guideline 6
Beliefs are a lens through which we see the world. They help us make sense of what we see and hear.
Generally speaking, they color people’s perception of reality, and a person’s perception influences conscious and unconscious reactions, which create repetitive and predictable outcomes in a current situation.
Dan and I got married in 1958. As a bride, my beliefs about being a woman and wife came from my parents and the social norms of the day.
The man was the breadwinner and head of the house. The woman was the homemaker and family caretaker. I didn’t learn to fix a car, repair the plumbing, or figure out the finances because he did it - very well.
I took care of the children and the home, but also had the opportunity to further my education and have a career. That was great at the time, but created problems in later years.
My caregiving journey with Dan and his death challenged many beliefs about who I was and what I was capable of doing.
When Dan was home, my beliefs about our relationship changed significantly. I remember realizing that although we were married, we were no longer a team or a couple in the typical sense. We could no longer make decisions or be together in the same way. I was the parent and he was the child.
Another shattered belief was that he would take care of me. He had been the leader, and I was the follower. He couldn’t do it any longer, and I hadn’t developed the skills. We stumbled along for awhile.
My beliefs about honesty were also challenged. As a child, I was taught that honesty was the best policy - the only policy. I couldn’t tell Dan the truth about doctors’ appointments, getting together with others, or my activities because he couldn’t remember or refused to participate. So, my belief changed to “at times, I have to be less than honest, it’s in his best interest.”
At the Facility
Memory care staff members agreed to certain conditions and I believed them. Maybe I was naïve, but they said “sure, we can do that,” but didn’t follow through. I had to release my beliefs about their honesty and my ability to advocate for Dan.
Because we were a team for so long, being on my own was traumatic. Somehow, even though Dan was impaired, he was there, and life was ok. After he died, I was afraid - to make decisions, go out on my own, and live my life.
But daily, I’m learning new things and succeeding as a single woman. I am learning to believe in me.
I’d question my beliefs rather than to accept them mindlessly.
Guideline 7 discusses Accepting Life’s Changes.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
The newsletter is and will always be free. However, if you wish to contribute to my work, you could consider donating to the Alzheimers Association. This link takes you to their website; the choice is yours.