Caregivers love to help people. It is a good feeling to comfort and give aid to someone in need. This support can also take its toll. There is a great responsibility and at times a burden that is felt in the caregiver role. It is important to find a way to express and channel the frustration that naturally occurs in helping relationships over time.
Resentment is the caregiver’s dirty little secret. There can be a sense of shame and guilt when anger develops. We want to be seen in our best, most giving light. To ease your stress, I want to let you know that even the most loving and compassionate caregivers experience frustration and resentment because it is a part of our human experience. Resentment builds up when there is no outlet for feeling hurt and angry. When we care for someone who needs us, we often put aside the activities and things we love in order to focus on the need at hand. In the beginning of helping this is normal. We are finding our way through a new way of life. Overtime this invalidation of who we are drains us of our energy and joy.
Rather than fear or resist anger and resentment, let’s look at them as signals reminding us to incorporate more balance into our lives. When we experience such it is time to take a step back and reassess.
Give to Yourself
It is wonderful that you are a kind and giving soul. When was the last time you gave to yourself? is time to put you back into the equation. Make time for peace and quiet, even if it is five minutes a day and listen to your heart. Take some deep breaths and place your hand on your chest. Ask yourself, what is something small that I can do to bring some happiness into my life today? could be having a cup of tea, soaking your feet or indulging in your favorite chocolate while listening to music. Whatever it is acknowledge the message, listen and follow through with it.
When one is in a caretaking position long term, the expressions of gratitude may arrive less and less. A part of that is we get comfortable with one another. Knowing that it is not intentional often does not erase the anger that is felt from being unrecognized. The problem is holding onto resentment only harms you. Carrying that heavy energy around will affect your health in negative ways. You know that it still feels good to hear the praise so if you need to go ahead and tell yourself what a great job you are doing. Verbally acknowledge yourself often and fill yourself up with your own encouragement.
Gratitude puts us back into our heart center by focusing on what we do have rather than what is lacking. When we write out or speak what we are thankful for it increases our positive feelings for ourselves and others. This can be another gift that you can start giving to yourself daily.
Friends and Supports
It is essential to have your own set of friends and supports for you in order to replenish the well. You want to give from a place of surplus not deficit. It is the lack of emotional support for that leads to burnout. Laughing, going out to eat, phone calls or meeting up for coffee can be a great stress relief.
Going to a mental health professional can be supportive and a way to focus on yourself for an hour. It is helpful to have a person who is not involved in your situation listen and offer advice. Many people feel relieved to have someone to talk to that understands them.
Support groups are helpful to normalize what you are feeling. It is a place to meet like-minded individuals who show you that you are not alone. It is also a way to and you may even make a new friend or two.
Forgiveness and Prayer
At times we feel angry with God although we feel afraid to admit that. If you are feeling angry with God, it is ok. Talk to God about all your feelings. You can choose to forgive God. What God does not like is when we distance ourselves because we feel anger and resentment. Forgive yourself when you feel guilty for feeling resentful whether it is with God or another person.
Many have anger towards the illness. Illness does not take a day off or let you off the hook, it is unrelenting at times. Forgive the illness for how it intrudes upon your life, your rest and your happiness. When we we often open up to the hidden blessings and gifts that the illness brought into our life.
It is natural to become frustrated with the person you are caring for. They may be dependent upon you for their care and frustrated with their lack of wellness. Forgive the person that you are giving care to. Give your feelings of resentment and anger to God. Pray that God will show you how to consider you and help yourself. Pray and forgive those who are ill.
Letting go of the hurt is not the same as accepting unacceptable behavior. It is not ok to be abused. If you are in an abusive seek professional help. It is a sign of strength to ask for and seek out help.
Whether you go for a walk, join a gym or do it in your home exercise gets your mind stress. You are not only moving your physical body but also your thoughts. Do some of your exercise in nature. It is good to get out of the house for a change of scenery. Nature is very healing when you to the sounds and sights in your environment. Exercise releases positive hormones which will naturally fight off resentment. You not only will feel better mentally you will start to look more fit.
Going Even Deeper
People are put into our lives for a reason to heal a part of our wounded self. If you find that you feel impatient or resentful with another’s dependency. It may be your own dependency that is bothering you. Is there a way to bring some compassion in for yourself when you need help? Are you open to receiving support or is there an imbalance in your giving and receiving? Once we acknowledge and work through the resentment and anger, we re-connect with our own power again. We are no longer victims of outside circumstances but victors of our own mental domain. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be any good to anyone else. For your own health and for those around you it is essential to work on releasing resentments.