Personal growth of the care giver

In order to develop a good relationship with a person, we need more than good insight in who the person is and good communication skills. A relationship has to come from your heart.

With some people you spontaneously have warm feelings. With others you may feel resistance. We usually believe that that has to do with the other, but this assumption is wrong. You may dislike a specific person, while others love him. So what does this tell you about the person. Nothing! It tells you something about yourself.


Sometimes we have to work with ourselves if we want to develop a warm relationship with others. Of course this ‘ working with yourself’ takes time and energy. But when you realize that you are the first to benefit from this effort, you know it’s worth doing it. You have a better day if you work with people you like, than if you would work with people you don’t like.

Back to who you really are


Do we have to become another person? Do we have to change our character? It seems like that, but it isn’t. It is merely a matter of discovering who you actually want to be and who you – in fact – in essence are. And to discover why you don’t always act the way you would like to act.

People are social beings with emphatic qualities.  By nature we are caring for others. This quality is  the main motivation for caregivers to do their work.


In daily routine however, it’s difficult to be connected with this motivation all the time. If this just happens occasionally, it’s no big deal. But if this occurs daily, it will become a problem. It can express in

  • fatigue
  • de-motivation
  • irritation towards others
  • complaining constantly
  • the beginning of burnout
  • So we are the first to benefit if we don’t let our working conditions change us, but if we can return to who we really are and how we want to act.


Habitual patterns






Demanding voice

Demanding look




Gently touching

Giving attention

Speak gently

Warm eye contact


When you look at these rows, you will see that you rather work in a supporting way, but that there are (to) many moments when you act domineering. So basically you act against your own motivation. This is because during our lives  we all have developed our own coping mechanisms and habitual patterns which seem to protect us when we feel vulnerable.  It is also the habitual pattern most people have developed and which are part of the culture we live in. That’s why it seems so normal and we hardly notice when we fall back to these patterns.

The trick is to develop insight in when and why  we fall back and develop a way to stick on to what we really would like to do on these moments.


Work with your emotions

It’s better for you to have warm feelings for a person, and to care for him, than to be irritated by the person. In essence, this is the benefit caregivers will have from gentle teaching.

  • Joy
  • Compassion / love
  • Anger
  • Irritation
  • Powerlessness 

We should learn to work in a constructive way with the feelings and emotions a person generates in us. From that we can realize our unconditional posture without forcing ourselves.

Gentle teaching makes a distinction between positive and negative feelings. That is not a value judgment; it has to do with the outcome of those feelings. Is that positive or negative?

Positive feelings are feelings of joy or love/compassion a person can generate in us. These are feelings which support the development of companionship, and which encourage caring actions. Working from these feelings is consistent with the core qualities of the care giver as a person. And in line with his motivation for going into this work.



Each person has his or her good which make you joyful. Sometimes negative things determine the imago on the person so we hardly can see the positive qualities. It is important to share positive images on the persons amongst the care giver team.

By looking to the person from another perspective, also the emotions his behaviors generates in us will change.

For example: When a person often wants your attention, you will feel different when you see him as a person who is spoiled and when you see him as a person who really needs your support and attention.


Compassion / love

When caregivers act from genuine care for the person, they are in their strength. This strength is based on empathizing with the feelings of the person and the intention to do whatever you can to help him. This strength is what’s also called ‘compassion’. It’s a strength  every human being has.

We are often afraid of being personally involved with the persons, because we think it might be a great burden for the caregiver. But this isn’t necessary.  This may happen when are not aware of our feelings, but when  are able to face our feelings and use the energy of the feelings for actions to help, we can prevent the ‘co-suffering’ we fear.

Compassion gives us energy and inner satisfaction.


Negative feelings are the feelings that not only hinder the development of companionship, but also take a lot of energy from the caregiver without giving inner satisfaction. The most important negative feelings are anger, fear, and powerlessness.

The trick for the caregiver is not to deny these feelings or suppress them, but to allow them, investigate them and transform them. This is a learning process that proceeds by two steps forward, one step backward.



Some caregivers think you can only be genuine when you express the anger you feel towards the person. Many even think it’s good for the person when he experiences that he did something wrong. Gentle teaching looks at this issue from another perspective. Anger usually won’t make the person change his behaviors. On the contrary. He will become more insecure and he will become more afraid of others,  and the chance that he will do the same thing, or another harmful behavior, increases.

When you feel angry, you don’t have to act angry. We can count to ten and investigate the roots of our anger. Usually this is our misconception of the intentions of the person or his ability to ‘control’ his emotions or stress. When it’s our assumption that the persons acts intentionally to harm others, this will reinforce our anger.


But looking more consciously may give another conclusion: the behavior seems intentionally, but actually it’s caused by the emotional development of the person, or by traumatic life experiences, by his disability to control his emotions, etc. By focusing on the problems of the person himself and his abilities to deal with them, our initial anger can transform in care or compassion; our intention to help. The energy of anger is transformed in the energy of compassion.



Fear can be very realistic. Especially when caregivers feel physically threatened by the people they serve.  Even than it’s important not to deny or suppress these feelings. Fear and aggression are not normal elements in our work.

Facing our fear and allowing it to be there, may give some relaxation in our body. From that relaxation we can try to prevent escalation. By tuning in on the feelings of the person and trying  to give him the support he needs. Also from that relaxation you can find more effective and gentle ways to protect yourself.



The most difficult feeling for care givers to deal with, is the feeling of powerlessness. It’s the natural  tendency of caregivers to wish all the best for the people they serve. When they focus on personal involvement, like we do in gentle teaching, this wish will even be stronger. The result will be more moments that you realize that you can’t give the person everything he needs. This may be because of your own limited abilities – after all we are just human beings – or because of limited resources. What we want and wish for the person, isn’t always feasible.


A feeling of powerlessness is the cause of much anger or irritation toward the person we serve. Or we start doubting our own qualities, or start complaining about the working conditions all the time. This seems reasonable, but it won’t change anything. It will only cost a lot of negative energy.

When we – for whatever reason - cannot solve all the problems of a person, we better focus on what we can do instead of what we cannot do. We just do what we can to comfort the person and learn to accept the reality of life that we cannot solve everything.


Working with our emotions is an important aspect of gentle teaching. Caregivers can be more present with a person, and work itself becomes more rewarding for the caregivers themselves.  But working with your emotions is easier said than done. It requires an open attitude  and the awareness of the benefits for both yourself and for the person you serve.

That’s why this is an important part of the gentle teaching training for caregivers.