If forgiveness were easy, this article wouldn’t be necessary….

But the reality is, forgiveness is often difficult. And in the world of caregiving, forgiveness can be fraught with much confusion and stress.

I have received a number of requests from caregivers dealing with forgiveness challenges with people they are caring for who they feel didn’t actually take care of themselves before, and who are now in a debilitated state. This brings up a great deal of anger and resentment, particularly when the caregiver is a family member whose life has been dramatically changed by becoming that person’s caregiver.

People have written to me about aging parents with dementia who are treating them with hostility, making continuing to feel loving toward them all the more difficult.

“I know it’s not who she/he really is, but it’s still driving me crazy!”

Then there are the emails or phone calls about a parent who has been sick for a very long time and is unable to communicate at all. In those situations there is literally no appreciation or gratitude being expressed by their parent for all the care they are providing.

“This is simply too debilitating and depressing. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take….”

Then there are all the family relationships surrounding the person being cared for, that cause added stress and strain to situations that already fraught with upset and tension.

“My sister and brother make all the decisions and ignore me completely! Or they don’t take what I have to say seriously, and do whatever they want to anyway… Mom and dad always favored them! My brother comes in from out of town and is treated like visiting royalty… But he never cared for mom and dad, and now shows up probably just looking for what’s in it for him!” …etc…

Each of the above situations frequently causes a great deal of upset, stress and tension for those providing the ongoing care. Anger and resentment build, and compassion is often hard to feel and express.

So if you, too, are finding yourself in a situation resembling any of these, and are really tired of having to carry that resentment around on top of everything else that’s on your mind, you’re not alone! If you’d love to really forgive whoever it is that’s driving you crazy so you can move on and feel more at peace, here are:

 

5 Important Steps To Forgive Yourself While Caring For Someone You Love (or have loved):

 

  1. Acknowledge, Respect and Accept your feelings of anger and resentment. These feelings are normal and understandable. They arise out of feeling hopeless, powerless, and stuck. By acknowledging, respecting and accepting your feelings rather than either denying them or burying them allows you to realistically deal with them so that they do not have to interfere in the care you are providing.

 

  1. Recognize that providing care is a choice: Even if you did not consciously choose to be a caregiver, providing care is, in fact, a choice. Options exist, even if they are options you do not like, want or choose. Not all choices are either good or bad… some are the lesser of 2 evils, but they are choices none the less. Once you acknowledge that you are doing something out of choice, acceptance begins to take place. Whether a choice is made for financial, emotional or physical reasons, acknowledge the choice that is being made, and accept it… (NOTE: Acceptance doesn’t mean LIKE… ) {this may be a good topic for another article}

 

  1. Recognize the history that is being played out in today’s arena: Often much resentment, anger, grudges, fears and hurts are not about today’s issues, but steeped in our past, and the relationships that were forged in our family history. Look at what you might still be holding onto, looking for and expecting, from either the person you are caring for or any other family member who may be involved (or absent). What beliefs, habits and expectations are being played out in your interactions with other family members, and are you willing to shift your perspective on history and deal with the present day issues?

 

  1. Focus on your Desired Outcome: Why are you providing care? What is your goal in participating in caregiving? Is it to be a good spouse, son, daughter or sibling? Is it to create a loving and safe environment for your family member? Are you doing it for recognition and validation from others that you are a good person? There are no judgments in any of these goals, just awareness, because we cannot heal what we ignore or deny.

 

  1. Ask for, and be willing to receive help, guidance and support: Being a caregiver is time consuming, overwhelming and mentally, emotionally and physically taxing. No one is served through martyrdom. It is necessary and important to get help, whether it is from family, friends, community resources &/or professionals. It is NOT a sign of weakness or failure if you ask for help. It’s important to remember that in the absence of support, habits always win. When you are willing to let go of judgments of yourself and are open to receiving help, changes can and do occur and you will create a more open and compassionate environment for yourself and those you care for.

 

Forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision. Deciding to let go of old thoughts, beliefs and habits, is a huge step toward creating greater ease in your journey of providing care to those you love.

The above steps are a way to open up to new perspectives as you embark or continue on this journey of being a caregiver.

Forgiveness is about being open to new possibilities and letting go of the past so that it will no longer control you… until we forgive, the anger, hurt, resentment, etc. owns us…

Reach out for guidance… contact me at Loren@beingwellwithin.com and we can set up a complimentary 30 minute consultation. You don’t have to go it alone

And we breathe….

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