Dealing with Negative Emotions from a Caregiver

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Managing Negative Emotions General Guidelines

I have been trying to develop some general guidelines for managing negative emotions.  As a result, here is what I have so far.

First of all, identify the feeling. Next, ask if it is a healthy feeling. Then, list your options and choose the one that is most likely to lead to your long-term happiness.

Therefore, after asking these first two questions, the next step is to ask what would help you feel better.  As a result, I try to remember to just focus on answers, which are in my control since it would be easy but not too helpful.  Consequently, to think of ways others could change so I would feel better.

In conclusion, while another question is to ask how you want to feel. This helps you direct your thoughts in a positive direction.

To summarize, here are some questions I believe are helpful:
  • How am I feeling?
  • Is it a healthy feeling? How do I want to feel?
  • What would help me feel better (that I can control)?

Expressing Negative Feelings

Here are a few suggestions for communicating your negative feelings:
  • Don’t be dramatic.
  • Don’t wait till things build up. Be brief.
  • Don’t blame or lay guilt trips. Talk about how you feel.
  • Finally, ask how the other person feels.

Finally, offer a way to save face. (For example, “Perhaps I misunderstood you,” or “I know your intentions were good.”)

Disappointment

Since there are at least two uses for the word “disappointment”. It is a combination of sadness and surprise.  While it fits with some academic definitions of disappointment.

Therefore, I find it helpful to look at disappointment as something we do to ourselves.  Because it seems to arise out of our own expectations or demands.   Due to, how we think the world should be or how we think people should act.  In other words, I look at “disappointment” as an inaccurate view of reality.  therefore, looking at it this way could help us accept that we did not understand things as well as we thought we did.   And that our expectations were unrealistic.

Furthermore, by looking at it this way, it is easier for us to take responsibility for it. And thus to reduce the negative feelings that usually go with it.

Creating the expectations of disappointment

Instead of using the word “disappointed,” I sometimes try to substitute the word “disillusioned.”  This helps remind me that I had created an illusion in my own mind about.  Calling something an illusion suggests that my interpretation of reality was inaccurate.  So when things don’t go the way I expected or wanted them to go.  It seems to help if I take the perspective that I created a false image of reality in my mind.  And I need to adjust myself to actual reality. The sooner I do this, the faster I get over the negative feeling of what I used to call the disappointment.

As a result, disappointment in another person is a form of rejection and disapproval.  It can be powerful in its toxic effect on the self-esteem.

In conclusion, another problem with telling someone you feel disappointed in them. Is that it encourages them to avoid sharing things truthfully with us.  Therefore it helps others feel judged as well as disapproved of.  Note that it is the person in power who creates the expectations.

Bitterness 

A more intense form of disappointment is sometimes bitterness.  In addition to, tells us that not only did we expect something, but also we started to count on it or depend on it.

As a result, a healthier reaction would be to let the feeling provide an opportunity.  To get to know the other person better.  By showing sincere curiosity and a desire for knowledge.  Instead of disappointment, we open the door to understanding and bonding.  In other words, we might say to ourselves “Hmm, I expected to happen, in fact, I wanted to happen. I was even counting on it.  Feeling sad or hurt or frustrated that it didn’t happen.  Why it didn’t happen.  What can I learn from this?”

Finally, such curiosity opens the door to seeking knowledge.  And helps get our thinking back in line with reality.  Situations where we feel disappointed. Can lead to wisdom if we allow ourselves to learn.  In the case of the caregiver and patient.  The caregiver might learn about the circumstances surrounding the patient’s life.  And the way the patient makes decisions based on his or her values, beliefs, and needs.  The same idea applies to friends or romantic partners.

Discouragement

Consequently, I am afraid this will sound simplistic.  But when you are feeling discouraged and hopeless.  You could look at it as just a sign.  Therefore, you need to find some source (or create one within yourself) of encouragement and hope.

Maybe a technique would be helpful, like making a list of some things that are encouraging.  Forcing yourself to find just one encouraging thing amid your present feelings of discouragement.  Maybe just find some uplifting books or articles or read.  A story on what someone is doing somewhere to help people.  There is a huge selection of inspirational books and tapes.  Some of them have helped me both during an immediate down period in my life and also in a longer-term sense.  Because I have the memory of some things they said that helped.

Another option is to seek out some optimistic but validating people. Perhaps just tell a friend who knows you well that you are feeling discouraged and hopeful.  Perhaps they will remind you of some encouraging truths.

I remember a few times I was feeling discouraged and I was able to remember some encouraging things.  And it helps me to know that I have felt discouraged and hopeless.  But I have bounced back from those feelings.  And I believe those feelings helped me focus on what was important to me.

Hopelessness

If nothing else, write to me and say, I am feeling hopeless!

Or scream it out if you must, or cry it out—your body is sending you a message.  Let it know that you have received it.  I am not sure how the process works.  But it seems that once the message is accepted, validated, and understood.  Survival forces of the brain, which go to work on solving the problem, can integrate it.

Once you have completely accepted that you feel hopeless.  You can begin to take action to feel more hopeful again.  Can search for inspiring Web sites, books, tapes etc. Think of people whom you admire who are contributing to the world in the way you believe.

When you are feeling hopeless.  It can be a clear sign that you need to feel more hopeful (or more optimistic, more encouraged, etc.)  To get back into a healthier state.  I believe our survival instinct itself is a source of hope.  If I had no hope, why would I even bother to eat? Because as long as your body is feeling hungry, sleepy, etc., I believe there is hope.

Feeling Destructive 

The amygdala, a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere.  Involved with the experiencing of emotions. Capable of initiating sequences of chemical reactions that create extreme energy.  Some people’s brains, for whatever reasons, create these intense chemical reactions.  In a life-or-death situation, this could prove to make the critical difference.  But we are rarely in life and death situation.  Yet we still sometimes feel the same urges, such as the urge to completely destroy our attacker.

The challenge is how to use the energy in a constructive way.  When I have felt destructive in the past, it has proved helpful to ask, what do I  want to destroy? A person? A relationship? Myself?  Asking these questions helps me realize that I don’t want to hurt others or myself. Nor do I want to damage relationships, even though they may be bringing me pain at that moment.  I want to prove that there is a better way.  Want to show the world that there are more options than repeating the mistakes of the past.  Try to focus my energy on this kind of positive direction.  This takes practice.  Most of all, I believe we can all make improvements.  In how we handle our destructive urges by refocusing our energy.  Into more productive outlets, like exercise.

Resiliency

Resiliency is part of emotional intelligence. Whatever category you want to put it under, it is clear that resiliency helps us survive and “thrive.” It helps us to recover from the shock, depression, anger, etc.

Forgiveness, Understanding

People who do not understand why they do things?  What their emotional needs are? And why they are unmet? Are less likely to be able to forgive them.

People who can not understand and forgive themselves. They will not be able to understand or forgive others.

Because I can forgive myself more now.   Hence, I understand how I was emotionally damaged.  I know I am just trying to meet my unmet emotional needs.  And it is much easier for me to forgive others now.

Life and Death in Context

Furthermore, there is an appropriate time for everything, and there is a time for every event.  Whatever, our beliefs may or may not be, each of us knows the inherent truth.  That one day, death will come to us and to everyone we love.  Knowledge of this inevitability does not lessen our suffering.

The walk through the valley of the shadow of death is the toughest part of life for the human spirit to endure.  Finally, most of us move beyond the shadows and once again enjoy the sunlight.  Let us gather insight into some of the feelings and experiences we may have.  Let us offer hope that sorrow will not be our constant companion for the rest of our years.

 

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Mad Man|Deling with negative emotions from a caregiver

 

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