Then learn how to say no to it.
In a previous blog I talked about the guilt I feel when I’m in a bad mood and take it out on mom. She feels like I snapped her head off and this takes away from the time we have together. Full disclosure: that’s not the only time I feel guilty.
Here’s the thing about being a caregiver. Guilt is a never-ending niggle in your brain. Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right thing? How can I split myself, so I can do a better job at work, at home, with mom?
Here’s the thing about guilt. It can immobilize you. It causes feelings of sadness and anger. It will suck you in so far, you don’t realize what YOU need. And if you do take the time for yourself, you feel guilty. When I am feeling guilty, I am not fully present with mom – then I feel guilty again. You see the vicious cycle, right?
Saying no to guilt takes work. It requires taking a step back to recognize negative, self-defeating, thoughts. Taking that step back is not easy to do when you are in the thick of caregiving.
But, I am learning to let go of some types of guilt. The “Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right thing?” middle of the night worry and guilt. I have learned that the decision you make today, is only the decision FOR today. Something will change, and a new decision will need to be made. It helps take the pressure off making the “right” one. THIS right decision is based on the information you have now. The NEXT right decision is based on new information.
I have learned not to take on the guilt that other people try and give me. The “Why don’t you look at assisted living for you mother? I think she’d like the socialization.” “You should talk to this caregiving agency, they are bigger, better, cheaper, (pick your adjective.)” All these “why don’ts” and “you should’s” can make you feel guilty. Don’t let them. I refer you to the paragraph above.
And then there is mom guilt. Yes, I said it. For years I felt guilty if I did something that would worry my mother. And mom is a champion worrier. I realized I can’t stop living my life, because she worries incessantly. If I drive in snow or rain, she worries. If I fly, she worries. If I go out late to see friends, she worries. I have learned to let go of the guilt that she worries about me. Mind you I call her when I get back to my house, so she knows I’m safe. I call her when I get my destination, so she knows I’m safe. But I no longer feel guilty about living my life.
As caregivers we try and make everything “right,” but you can’t take on other people’s worries, even your mother’s. I can empathize and sympathize, but I can’t change my life because of guilt.
CaregiverStress.com 5 Ways to Keep Guilt From Stressing You Out.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.