Caregiving is as much an emotional roller-coaster for things about the caregiver as it is to the caregiving itself. Not all crises come from the circumstances of the people for whom we care. Sometimes our own emotional baggage decides to unpack and stay for a while.
Even after years of caregiving for different individuals, I still occasionally find myself running around with a perpetually short fuse more often than I like to admit. My anger generally comes from my perfectionist tendencies running at odds with the realities of the tasks at hand. I guess I still hold out hope that the Universe will one day see things my way and comply. While I am making fun of the situation here, I know a lot of caregivers hold out similar hopes.
So when our expectations fall short, we take on the responsibility for those shortcomings like we take on the responsibilities of just so many other things in our lives. And this is where we need to focus some work.
A Time and a Place
Anger is a natural and normal emotion developed in response to frustration. Frustration with the behavior of those for whom we care or frustration with ourselves over how we handled a situation, we just end up angry.
Over the short haul, anger can serve us really well. Like dealing with business and service people reading prompts on their computers instead of responding with customer service. Anger can make you sharp and it feels so gratifying when we win one against ignorance. The problem is when the anger stays on to influence your enjoyment of other parts of living.
Coming Back from Anger
This will sound like part of a 12-step (it’s not) but first admit that you are angry. Own the emotion – all of it. It’s okay, really.
Above all else DO NOT assign blame for what you find. What has happened, has happened but you are the exclusive owner of your anger. It does not come from somewhere or someone else. So no blame pointing allowed and let’s move on.
Build a List
Take an inventory of what’s happening and how you feel.
Remember, this is not a graded exercise, much less a test. Just be honest with yourself.
Once in possession of some perspective on your situation, it is easier to figure a way out. It is about becoming objective. Once you see where your emotional triggers lie, it becomes easier to avoid pressing those buttons.
Starting Your Homework
A crucial step in this self-assessment is to forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive the ones for whom you are caring, forgive God if you hold him responsible, just forgive and let go. The solution to your anger starts to form as soon as you let go of that anger.
You are not losing anger in your life. It will return.
Just remember that anger is just a visitor and need not become a resident. It can be a useful emotion but just doesn’t bring much to brighten your Life.
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
― Joe Klaas