Stop judging your own caregiving
Most of us have run across unpleasant know-it-alls who question caregiving decisions and comment negatively on things you’ve done and choices you’ve made – even if they have no experience! That’s terrible, nobody should speak to you that way!
What’s worse is when we speak to ourselves that way. Many caregivers unfairly judge themselves and focus on the few mistakes they’ve made rather than on all the good they’ve done. What you’re doing deserves praise, especially from yourself!
We’ve got 6 tips to help you stop any unfair self-judgement that might be happening in your head.
6 ways to stop judging yourself as a caregiver
1. Notice when it’s happening
The first step is to notice when you’re talking to yourself negatively about caregiving.
Take notice and write it down the next time you have a negative thought like “I snapped at Mom again today. I’m the meanest daughter in the world.” or “Crap! I forgot to buy more of Dad’s oatmeal. So stupid! I never remember even the simplest things!”
Even though you’re noticing when this happens, it’s important to not beat yourself up for having these thoughts. Too often, these thoughts go through our brains and we hardly notice how harshly we speak to ourselves. The idea of this exercise is to help you realize that you’re doing it.
2. Avoid comparing yourself with others
Comparing yourself to other people only makes you feel badly. On top of that, you’re usually comparing your worst moments with their best moments – the ones they share publicly.
Instead, focus on what you’re doing right. Maybe you found an amazing in-home caregiver who treats your mom with love and kindness. Or, you’ve made sure that your husband is getting excellent care in a wonderful memory care community.
Keep in mind that everyone makes different choices based on their own unique circumstances. This doesn’t make one caregiving decision better than another. No matter what other people choose, you’re doing the right thing for yourself and your older adult.
3. Look at the big picture
So what if the house is messy? Who cares if Mom wears PJs all day? Does beating yourself up about these details help the situation? Do these things really matter?
Instead, think about what’s really important to you. The house might not be spotless, but maybe it’s because you’ve chosen to spend quality time chatting and listening to music with Dad to keep him engaged in life and boost his mood.
4. Talk to others in similar situations
Sometimes hearing from others gives you new perspective. Caregiver support groups are a great place to hear stories from other people in similar situations.
You’ll learn about their experiences, the questions on their mind, and their failures. Talking with and getting advice from fellow caregivers helps you realize that everyone is doing their best under difficult circumstances and that there is no such thing as one right way.
5. Distract yourself from negative thoughts
After you’ve been noticing your self-criticism for a little while, it’ll get easier to recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself.
When you realize it’s happening, stop and take a deep breath. Redirect your thoughts by thinking about something positive, finding something to praise yourself about, or listing a few things you’re grateful for.
6. Keep a success journal
Recognizing your successes also helps you overcome negativity. Every day, take a little time to jot down the things you did well. Seeing your wins on paper is proof that you’re successful a lot more often than you might think.
You might also like:
— Stress Relief for Caregivers: Free App Helps You Relax in 2 Minutes – Calm.com
— How Gratitude Helps You Reduce Caregiver Stress
— Reduce Caregiver Stress by Celebrating Accomplishments