Caregiver Survival Tip #5
Develop a Slip ’N Slide for Negative Emotions
When we are caring for someone who is ill, disabled or in a great deal of pain, everything becomes laser-focused on their needs. You may be doing all of the work you’ve always done in addition to taking over the housekeeping, yard work and financial tasks your care receiver used to manage. You are also most likely providing all of the positive emotional energy for both you and your loved one.
You need to understand that maintaining this level of commitment to another person’s care is a heavy load, even for someone who is physically healthy and optimistic. If you are spending your days and nights laser-focused on their needs, it can be easy to start feeling resentful about a lot of things, including other people’s behavior.
Why is the receptionist at the doctor’s office grumpy? Why are some friends present and others absent? Why will one child will fly across the country to help and another one won’t be able to find the time to send a text? I can’t explain these things, but I do know for certain that if my happiness was dependent on other people’s actions, I would be in a constant tailspin like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil character.
Negative emotions are exhausting, and there is nothing positive or uplifting that will come out of spending your emotional energy on someone who has hurt you, disappointed you, or made you angry. So today I’d like for you to focus on letting go of negative feelings.
Remember the Slip’NSlide? It’s a long plastic sheet that you connect to a hose. Every summer my kids would run and flop belly first onto their Slip’NSlide and squeal with glee as they slid from one end to the other.
If you are upset with someone today, I’d like for you create an emotional Slip’NSlide in your mind. Throw whatever negative emotion you are feeling belly first onto that slide and let slip into oblivion.
A former minister’s wife told me about how she recovered from a past relationship that had gone badly. She had obsessed over the way he had treated her for quite some time. Then one morning as she was looking in the mirror, she asked herself, “Why would I let that guy live rent-free in my head?” Once she decided he didn’t deserve the emotional space she was giving him, she was able to release him and let him slide right out of her heart, mind and life.
If someone has let you down, hurt you or made you angry, I hope you’ll be able to do the same.