Anger is a signal that something is wrong. It is also a predictable and normal response to circumstances over which we have little or no control. As a caregiver, you will be confronted with countless situations, people, and events over which you have little or no control. You will get angry at the disease, with your care receiver, the medical community, insurance companies, siblings, friends, and children. The list goes on and on.
So what can you do about it? I believe there are two simple choices––you can choose to let anger control you, or you can choose to control it. Ranting and raging is exhausting. It scares and upsets other people. There are individuals who are fully aware of the power of anger, and they are skilled at using full-blown temper tantrums as an emotional weapon to intimidate and control other people. Being in a relationship with someone who uses anger like that can crush your soul.
If you choose to apply the three steps of Creative Indifference to anger, you might discover that it is possible to stand up to bullies, to set boundaries, and to hold others accountable for their actions.
You might also discover that there are individuals in your life who will never play fairly, carry their share of the load, or show any concern for the wellbeing of you or your care receiver. It’s easy to let the behavior of these people make you so angry that you think of little else.
You may be absolutely justified in your feelings toward them, but if you hang on to that anger and let your feelings simmer constantly, it will not hurt them, but it will eventually hurt you––emotionally and possibly even physically.
I heard a sermon about forgiveness many years ago that changed my life. The minister said, “The only things we have to forgive are those things which we cannot possibly understand, accept, or rationalize away. If you can understand why someone did what they did, if you can accept that it wasn’t their intention, or their action wasn’t actually that bad, or if you can justify their behavior and find a rational, acceptable reason for it, you don’t have to forgive them. But if you cannot understand, accept, or rationalize it away, you do need to forgive them.”
He went on to explain that forgiveness isn’t something you do for the person who hurt you. It’s something you do for yourself because you deserve to be free of the pain they caused you.
Forgiveness is something that takes time and practice. It doesn’t require you to forget. You just need to be willing to let go of your anger and to give yourself permission to wake up every day happy and free of the heavy burden of anger and resentment.