Guilt is a powerful motivator. It can make you do things you don’t want to do or that you’re not really able to do. But it has no place in caregiving because you’re not there to assuage your guilt. You’re there to care for your loved one to the best of your capability.
Forgive Yourself for Faults Real and Imagined
Guilt shows up when you’re feeling that you’ve done something wrong or bad. You don’t have to actually have done anything that is truly wrong or bad to feel guilt, though. Often a family caregiver feels guilty when trying to balance too many other people’s needs at once. No matter what it is you’re feeling guilty about, forgive yourself now so that you can move on.
Assess Whether the Guilt Is Reasonable
Is there something that you did or didn’t do that makes the guilt a reasonable feeling? This is outside of blame entirely. What you’re looking for here is whether or not there’s a valid reason for the guilt. If there is a reason for the guilt, you can use that to help you see what you can do differently the next time around. Maybe you were experiencing a short temper that day and you took it out on your loved one. That’s a reasonable cause of guilt and you can resolve to handle your emotions differently next time.
Look for What You Can Change
Regardless of fault, there may be something about the situation that made you feel guilty that you can actually change. Perhaps hiring elderly care providers is a solution, for example. Or perhaps your loved one needs to start a workout regimen but you’ve been putting it off because she doesn’t want to. Finding something concrete that you can change or correct gives you something to do to resolve the underlying cause of the guilt.
Let Go of What You Can’t Change
No matter how hard you try to find something to change, some situations just don’t have that component that you can modify, adjust, or change at all. For those, you simply have to let go. Letting go isn’t easy when you first start, but you can teach yourself how.
With more practice, you’ll find it easier to banish guilt soon after it shows up. Each time will become less of a chore to handle.