When Caregivers Feel Guilty … Don’t

The feelings creep in gradually. You know the ones: You feel guilty that you can’t pay for more care. Or you’re there 24/7 but feel you should be doing more. Some days, no matter how much you tell yourself, “They’d do it for me.,” you find some tasks a little bit gross (and then you have guilt about that). Welcome to the caregiver’s club. But just because these are common feelings doesn’t mean you have to be controlled by them.

Change Your Vocabulary

Instead of using the word “guilty”, try swapping it with the word “regret.” You haven’t intentionally inflicted physical or emotional pain on anyone. So, don’t feel guilty. Guilt is a personal failure, while regret is a feeling of sadness and wishing things were different or done differently. For example, “ I REGRET that I sometimes get angry and lose my patience.” Or, “I REGRET that I sometimes resent the amount of time it takes to care for this person”. It’s not guilt, it’s regret.

Share the Superhero Cape.

It’s important to remember that no one person can do everything. Often we think we can, but invariably, this is not true. Understanding that help is the key to good care can relieve you of the feeling that you can’t do it all.

Reassure Yourself that Their Needs are Met

Sometimes you may find yourself falling into the feeling that you’re not doing enough. When this feeling overcomes you, ask yourself a few basic questions. “Is the person safe?” Are their needs being met?” “Are there some moments of joy, no matter how small or fleeting?” Often, the people who feel inadequate are the ones who are doing the most.

Don’t Fall Into the Guilt Trip Trap

If you are caring for someone who will occasionally (or more often) try to make you feel guilty, you have to keep control. Stop thinking about what they say and want and think objectively about the situation. Sometimes it’s never enough. It’s important to remember that they are not going to change – you have to. You may have to make decisions they’re not 100 percent on board with. Will they be mad? Possibly. They may try to guilt trip you into their way of thinking. It’s your responsibility to manage your own feelings, not theirs.