One of the unexpected and stressful realities of caring for those you love is that it often brings up many conflicting feelings. We have a vision in our minds of ourselves being patient, attentive and responsive to their every need so that they will feel our love at all times. That’s how we believe we should be.
However, in actual practice the sometimes painful truth is that we can love and feel compassion for our loved ones…yet also get to feeling angry and resentful at times about the impact their needs have on our lives. Experiencing these not-so-noble emotions is very disturbing.
If they come up frequently enough, anger, frustration and resentment will interfere with the loving care you provide to those you love, with the loving care you give to yourself…or both! It’s important to protect yourself from such unwelcome disturbances to your mood and your ability to care for everyone involved.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent anger and frustration from seeping into your caregiving responsibilities. Turning these steps into habits will enhance your relationship with those you love as well as with yourself.
6 Steps to Erase Anger, Frustration And Resentment While Caring For A Loved One
NOTE: As you use these steps, it’s important to be clear and honest with yourself about your feelings and needs, as well as the expectations you have for yourself and your loved ones.
- Manage your expectations. It’s important to be realistic. Always have hope for great outcomes, but also do reality checks…often! Managing expectations has benefits for you as well as for those you care for. Have you taken on too much? Are you not delegating when you could be? Are you being realistic about your parent’s condition and abilities? These are only a few of the questions that need to be asked and answered to prevent the rise of anger and resentment.
- Be clear on your desired outcome. Remember that desired outcomes are about you want and what you have control over. When situations are really challenging, turn your focus temporarily to reaffirming your underlying loving connections, which will outlive any momentary upsets.
- Take NOTHING personally. Please remember that no matter how difficult or ornery someone gets, it’s NOT about you. Even when your parents are berating you for not doing enough, it’s important to remember what could be behind it…that along with needing increased care, they are also struggling emotionally with seeing their independence disappear. We cannot control how they handle this reality, but we can learn to control how we respond to their behaviors.
- Set clear boundaries and limits. Those who receive care will not be the ones to set boundaries and limits… on the contrary, they likely will be trying to increase their access to you at any given time – though they probably won’t realize it. You as the caregiver MUST be the one who guards your time, energy and peace of mind! As difficult as it may be to set limits because you feel bad for your mother, who needs more help as each day passes, your needs and feelings MUST be taken into account before you jump into action.
- And We Breathe! Taking a moment (or 2 or 3) to simply breathe is one of the best ways to avoid a heated argument. The breath gives you a moment to pause and think, before speaking or acting. If you need even more of a pause than that, take a step away from the situation…literally! Leave the room if you’re there in person, or excuse yourself from a phone call by saying you’ll call back shortly. Politely do what’s needed to give yourself the space to gather your thoughts and clearly re-focus on your desired outcome.
- Be sure to get ongoing support, guidance and encouragement. Don’t try to go it alone – this is difficult work! Please reach out to friends, other family members, community resources and volunteers, therapy, support groups, and/or clergy for additional help.
You can also read Chapters 3 and 5 of Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver’s Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm, which offer some excellent strategies for coping with anger, resentment and frustration.
To get a taste of how the book might help you, click here to get a complimentary chapter. You can actually start using its solutions today to give yourself more freedom, flexibility and relief from stress – the antidotes to anger and frustration!
I look forward to hearing from you – leave your comments or questions below!
And we breathe,