The Sensory Quotient – the Caregiver Pattern
The Caregiver’s survival depends on creating reciprocal dependencies. “I’ll do whatever it is you need from me so that I’ll get what I need from you.” Caregivers are adept at knowing whatever it is the other person needs to hear or receive from them. For this reason, Quanta Change founder Mimi Herrmann sometimes called this pattern “the manipulator.”
From the outside, Caregivers are often perceived as warm and caring, interested in the welfare of others. And they often are all of these things, each of which is good, in and of itself. So, what’s the Learned Distress in that? It’s that Caregivers feel that they can’t possibly support themselves in some crucial way (or many ways), so they need something from someone else to survive. Therefore, their “giving” is not free—it comes with the (often very hidden) expectation that they will get something in return. The Caregiver brand of “nice” comes with a price tag!
Often, Caregivers are just like their pattern’s name—the way they “give you what you want” is to take care of you in some way. But often, they can seem “needy”—they express their dependent nature by needing significant financial, emotional, or physical support from others. Caregivers often have something wrong with their bodies that is diagnosable—physical or mental illness or a significant addiction. So, they can be dependent not only on other people, but on treatments or regimens that help them cope with these problems.
This is all shaped, of course, by their initial conditions from conception until the age of 2 1/2—whatever way of being human got their needs fulfilled early in life (being the entertainer, being sick, or throwing temper tantrums) will be the way their brain direction continues to generate their way of being human later in life.
Caregivers are typically people pleasers and often peacemakers. They make sure to fit into whatever situation they’re in—for this reason, I sometimes also use the term “chameleon” for them. They generally defer to what other people want and will work hard to make relationships with others seem “all OK.” This usually happens at the expense and complete denial of what really matters to the Caregiver (if they can even connect to what they really want at all).
As time goes on, their reciprocal dependencies break down more and more. For instance, a woman who never worked outside the home and let her husband handle all the financial responsibilities may find herself divorced and feeling like she has no way to support herself. As this survival mechanism stops working, Caregivers often feel very resentful: “I give and give and give and never get anything back—and I have no way to do these things for myself!”
Quanta Change for Caregivers
The general direction Quanta Change takes for Caregivers is to come to a greater and greater reliance on their own well-being as the way they support themselves and generate what they need. They begin to connect with what really matters to them, instead of just connecting with whatever matters to the people they depend on. And they begin to voice and achieve what matters to them in ways they hadn’t imagined were possible before.
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