Caregiving is a challenging task, and it comes with feelings of anger, guilt, resentment, and sadness. Why do we battle these feelings? I will never forget the day a friend told me that it was okay for me to feel sad. It was an intense sadness and even confusion, but it was so freeing to acknowledge my emotion. Yes, in life we may be in an intense battle especially when caring for someone, but we can listen to our emotions and figure out how to respond to them.
1. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions
Why is this important? You can’t do anything about your emotions if you don’t first know what they are. At first, this may feel painful but I’m not asking you to stay there. I am giving permission to be honest with yourself so that you can take the next step. Decide the level of intensity for each of your emotions and choose to focus on alleviating the top one or two emotions that seem to interfere with your daily life.
2. Know your thoughts or actions that led you to feel a certain emotion
If you can’t identify these thoughts imagine yourself back in a stressful situation and notice the thoughts you are having. You may find thoughts such as, “I don’t even want to be here!” Thus, you feel anger, bitterness, or resentment. Or thoughts such as, “I want to rest but then who will take care of him/her?” Thus, maybe you feel guilty. Or you might be thinking, “This is terrible; I’m all alone and no one cares!” Could this be sadness and/or self-pity?
3. Make a decision about your thoughts and emotions
Pretend a friend is in your shoes. What advice would you give them? Wise friends acknowledge emotions, help their friend see faulty thinking, and brainstorm some ideas for solving the problem.
- If resentment is present, it is often an indication that one of your boundaries has been violated, and this means that you may need to set limits or say, “no,” to certain activities or people.
- If guilt is an issue and you are a caregiver, look at your thought and evaluate whether or not it is rational. If you can’t decipher whether or not you are being rational, ask yourself what you would tell a friend if they had the same feeling and thought. Most likely, you would advise them to take a break or reach out for more help.
- Lastly, if self-pity prevails in your life, don’t forget to look at the good things. Perhaps you need to start writing a gratitude list. Remember the good things you have in your life. And know that you are not alone!
When you or someone you know needs help caring for a loved one, call Home Care Assistance. We specialize in long-term care for seniors, creating dedicated care teams supervised by degreed professionals. We bring assisted living to home. Claire, our Omaha Care Manager is a great resource and can address your questions and concerns, 402-763-9140.
Sources and inspiration from: Psychcentral.com, agingcare.com