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Friday, August 8, 2008

The Caregiver's Bandwidth - Guest Post by Scott Couchenor of

I was talking with a friend the other day. He was describing the difficulty in explaining computers to his mother. She has a dial up connection to the internet (very slow). But her idea is to buy a faster computer. My friend is trying to explain why that won't work.

Why won't a faster computer increase the speed of a dial up connection to the internet? Bandwidth. Bandwidth is like a roadway. The bandwidth on a dial up connection is like a narrow country road with the occasional one-lane bridge. In comparison, "high speed internet" (like cable, DSL, T1) is more like a 10-lane freeway. Now imagine thousands of cars trying to get to their destination. Imagine how much faster the traffic would flow on the freeway compared to the country road. That's bandwidth - the lines of connection from your computer to the internet, not the processor inside your computer.

Therefore, it doesn't matter how fast your processor is. If the information flowing from your computer to the internet is going over dial up lines, you will simply have to wait. Okay, so what does bandwidth have to do with serving others effectively?

Bandwidth and Self Care

Think of "bandwidth" as the capacity to serve with effectiveness and focus. Think of self care as the way to keep bandwidth like high speed. In other words, the better the self care, the greater the capacity to care for others. Let me explain...

Let's enter into the life of Fred (imaginary name). Fred is a cargiver. He does all the things that we normally imagine a caregiver to do. But Fred isn't feeling well. In fact, he's carried a virus for several weeks now. He has coughing fits that interrupt conversations. He is on a routine diet of Tylenol as he continuously battles headaches. Fred is distracted. He's listening to a person who is talking to him. At least he's trying to listen. But the headache and coughing are keeping him from focusing on the person's issues.

Fred's bandwidth (his capacity to be fully present) is like dial up. It's slow. His capacity to serve is small. His focus is almost non-existent. Fred needs to take care of himself. He needs to see a doctor to get the right medicine to put the headaches and coughing to rest. Without the headaches and coughing, Fred would be able to stay focused when he's caring for others.

How's YOUR bandwidth today? Are you investing in the routines you need to keep your capacity of service as high as it can be? Take care of yourself and you'll be Serving Strong!

By Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach, Guest Blogger
Promoting Balanced People Helpers