Guilt. No matter what decision you make regarding the care of the person you look after, it seems that we caregivers constantly second guess ourselves. We imagine that everyone else goes through their day according to some fantasy schedule that allows for plenty of time to get things done, take care of themselves and spend quality time with their charges. I have never met a caregiver that has had that experience. Yet, we push forward every day dealing with crisis after crisis, exhaustion, frustration, and isolation and still, we feel we aren’t doing enough. Or we did something less than perfect and we won’t let it go. We beat ourselves up for sins of omission, for losing our cool or not being “enough”. Not organized enough, not clever enough, not cheerful enough, not skilled enough. Well, Enough is Enough!
Feeling guilty about what you could have done, might have done or should have done is a complete waste of time and energy. Time and energy are valuable commodities to caregivers and wasting them on unreasonable guilt are not in your best interest. If you are doing the best you can at any given moment – you need to learn to accept yourself and your limitations. If you make a mistake and do something that didn’t have the best outcome, take it as a learning experience. Know that you will do better next time. Just as we need to give those in our care “Grace and Space” – we need to give ourselves the same gift. Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some grace, allow yourself to learn and move forward. Sometimes we need space to recharge ourselves, to allow time to catch our breath, get some rest and focus on something else besides caregiving.
Cancel that guilt trip, unpack that baggage. Commit to finding ways every day to turn a challenging situation into a learning experience and remember that no one else is doing what you are doing. No one else has the right to judge how you are doing it. Feeling isolated and unappreciated are two of the many challenges that caregivers face. Don’t put an additional burden on yourself – lose the guilt. Guilt trips, the very best travel plan to cancel.