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How to Practice Self-Forgiveness as a Caregiver

In Blog by Cassandra WolffLeave a Comment

“Today is going to be a bare minimum day”, this is what I used to tell myself on days when I knew I wouldn’t have the energy capacity to serve my client to the best of my ability. We all know what it is like to arrive to work with a fresh cup of coffee in our bellies and a brain full of scattered thoughts. A “hot mess” is what some would call it. When your physical appearance has fallen to the way side and you’re just barely keeping up with your most fundamental needs—using the bathroom on time, getting a bite to eat and keeping yourself from looking fallen apart.

What happens to us when we are in this state? Our brains are in fight-or-flight, our hormones are trying to keep up with the increased stress, our digestion slows, leaving us feeling weighed down by eating, our hearts are beating out of our chests, trying to supply our wracked bodies with extra blood to keep moving—everything about our physical, mental and emotional state changes when we are under stress. So, how can we begin to change ourselves not just in response to stress, but before it actually happens?

This is where the tool of self-forgiveness can begin to work for us—if we consciously send the invitation.

We can tell ourselves, “Today is going to be a bare minimum day” or we can say “Today I am going move slower than most days”. By taking a moment to speak to ourselves with kind words, we can actually change the nature of our stress pattern for the day.

My clients are quadriplegics. When I am having a slow moving day, there are tasks that are completed in a different way than if I was more energetic. The wash cloth may not be as hot when I am washing my clients face, I may leave the shower bucket on the wrong side of the bathtub, I may not have the energy to refill certain medical supplies, I may not fold the blankets as neatly. In recognition of the importance of my sanity, I need to have the ability to be OK with my performance on days when I am moving slower. I need to be able to make my efforts count. I need to give every ounce of credit to my sincerity for showing up.

“I forgive myself”.

These are the powerful words that can do the dirty work for you even if you forget to say the words to yourself before you leave the house. The only thing that is more important than saying positive affirmations is simply having the idea in your heart. The idea that my sincere presence is enough. The idea that I am a giver of care and that intangible care is what matters most.

If I am filled with the idea that showing up on time and doing my best is the single greatest offering I can give to my clients, then I have just transcended the way I deal with stress. And that is a BIG deal!

So often, caregivers engage themselves in a constant negative inner-dialogue about their performance when providing care to others. Whether we are tending to a quadriplegic, supporting our aging parents or taking care of a child, the running dialogue that we have with our inner-selves can be what drives us insane or drives us up the ladder of self-fulfillment.

Say this to yourself right now, “ I am a practitioner of self-forgiveness. I am enough even on slow days. The sincerity that resides in my heart is my greatest offering”.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

-MARK TWAIN

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