Sometimes I think guilt is the caregivers' natural state. Parent care is a huge responsibility. It can feel like you are not doing enough. Sometimes guilt can get out of control.
I knew as a caregiver that when I started feeling guilty over disagreements that I had with my mother when I was a teenager that I needed to get a grip on feelings for my own well being.
Six ways to banish guilty thoughts
- Connect the decisions you are making to your parent's values. How does he choose to live? Parent care is filled with moments when it's hard to make the right decision. There are no perfect choices, so select the option that aligns best with your parent's values and move forward.
- Watch out for guilt inducing comments from your parent. Sometimes we are very comfortable with guilty thoughts because that is the way that we have been raised. Your parent may have used guilt as a tool to change your behavior when you were growing up. He may continue to use guilt as a way to control you as a caregiver. Put a gap between what was said and your instinctive response. Respond neutrally and try to speak to your parent's underlying emotion.
- Strive to keep your thoughts in the present. Guilt is often related to reviewing the past. Sometimes guilt is a habit. Examine your guilty thoughts and determine if you need to act or that your guilty thought lacks substance.
- Stay away from absolutes when you talk to yourself. The constant internal dialog of caregivers can be one of self criticism. Watch for thoughts that have words like always, never, should. These are words that you may be using to punish yourself. Life is rarely as black and white as you make it out to be.
- Use a journal to examine your guilty thoughts and hold them up to a reality check. Write down the thought and your feelings in all their gory details. Ask yourself if the thought is really true. Can you honestly say that 100% of the time, you do as you are accused? Guilt rarely can stand up to honest scrutiny.
- Take a break from your parent care responsibilities. Guilt can result from caregiver stress. Take guilty thoughts as a sign that you need a break. When you are tired, it's easier to fall into negative thought patterns and be your own worst critic.
Guilt may be part of the caregiving package. Become a more effective caregiver when you reduce guilty feelings. Share your strategies for coping with guilt. Stay up to date on our latest posts. Add the EldercareABC Blog RSS feed to your desktop.