The right value at the right time in the right dose

The right value at the right time in the right dose

Over the past few years I’ve been given ample opportunities to reflect upon and apply the Four C’s framework (connection, compassion, courage, and creativity) to my own self-care practices. Perhaps the greatest test to my own self-care practices came when I accepted the position of primary caregiver for my aging parents. My decision to take on this position was heavily influenced by my own values and, despite the heartache it brought at times, it also came with many heartwarming moments.

Following our personal values doesn’t mean it will necessarily be an easy path, but it will surely be a personally meaningful one. My ability to care for myself as I navigated my various caregiving roles was definitely a work in progress and one that required ongoing monitoring and tweaking. Throughout that journey I regularly engaged with the Four C’s and used the lessons learned to help guide my future self-care decisions.

One of those lessons has to do with our personal values and the importance of connecting with the “right” value at the “right” time in the “right” dose (something one of our podcast guests mentioned). In my experience, this also took a lot of self-compassion and courage.

Conscientiousness, dependability, and caring have been important values for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve appreciated how these values have helped me navigate challenging situations but there can also be times when these same values can create some challenges themselves.

When my father recently passed away in July, I found my values of conscientiousness, dependability, and caring actually complicating my decision about taking time off work. Although I had no difficulty giving myself permission to take time off, I found these values were influencing my thoughts about how much time to take off and how to set up my return to work.

Several months prior to my father’s passing I committed to completing a number of learning disability/ADHD assessments prior to the start of the 2023 school year. Taking time off would most certainly impact my ability to meet these deadlines (which would go against my values) unless, of course, I was prepared to work lengthy hours upon my return to work (which was in line with my values but at what cost?).

Then I began reflecting on the right value at the right time in the right dose. What about if I applied my “caring” value to not only others but also to myself (as uncomfortable as that may feel)? Perhaps that is the “right” value for me (and even my clients) at the “right” time.

And, what about if I adjusted the dose and the way I was thinking about my “conscientiousness” and “dependability” values? I made those commitments based on the events in my life at that time and I had no way of knowing that my circumstances would change. Does adjusting my time frames for the assessments by a few weeks really mean that I am not conscientious or dependable? What would I encourage a dear friend or colleague to do in this situation?

Reflecting on all those points led me to make the very intentional decision to take the time off I truly needed and to plan a return to work that prioritized my “caring” value and did not involve excessive/unreasonable work hours. And you know what? It turns out I’m still a conscientious and dependable psychologist after all.

So the next time you’re facing a difficult self-care decision, consider reflecting on your personal values and where the concept of the right value at the right time in the right dose might lead you.