When a child or other loved one is away at treatment you’ll have many emotions. It is easy to have judgment about our emotions. AND, that is not necessary or helpful to us or our loved one. So when we can prepare for emotions, name them and accept them, then we can have a plan to cope with them.
Here are just a few of the emotions parents/caregivers have expressed to me over the years:
- Out of Control
- Worn Down
Well, first knowing we’re going to have emotions that may surprise us can prepare us so we’re not blindsided by the emotion. Then naming the emotion can help us gain clarity on what we are feeling so we can accept the feeling and make a plan. After we feel the feeling, name it and allow ourselves the compassion to have the feeling, then we don’t need to be stuck in it. We can then consciously choose to keep feeling it or to then release it when we are ready.
Part of the plan may be simply knowing that emotions are going to show up that we hadn’t expected. And being gentle and kind to ourselves.
Then we can have some coping tools to reduce our distress in our back pocket. One of the keys is to choose one or two that we really find easy and can do anywhere and anytime.
For instance, some parents really find DBT skills helpful. DBT is a mindfulness and distress tolerance therapy designed by Marsha Linehan. It stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I love the DBT skill; ‘Opposite action to reaction.’ When a crisis comes up I can choose this skill to be extra calm so I can make rational decisions.
Now, it may seem odd to you that I’m not focusing on your loved one’s illness or treatment journey. No. This is about you AND when you take care of YOU, it helps your loved one in recovery. It can feel counter-intuitive. It is essential. What I see is that coaching clients who work with me for 6 months or more are able to implement tools for self-care and then we both see their loved one improve in their recovery. It surprised me too!
When caregivers are not burned out, we can be calmer. More compassionate. More caring. And more confident. When a person in recovery has caregivers who are calmer, more compassionate, more caring and confident; they do better.
I know, it can feel selfish...and please go back and re-read this paragraph again: “When caregivers are not burned out, we can be calmer. More compassionate. More caring. And more confident. When a person in recovery has caregivers who are calmer, more compassionate, more caring and confident; they do better.”
So what do you think? Are you ready to prepare for your emotions? To name them? Accept? Plan? What self care tools will you use?
Please share your comments here.