“Nothing others do is because of you,” says Don Miguel Ruiz in his book, The Four Agreements.
So when your mom says that she’s lonely because you don’t visit more often or your dad complains about living in assisted living because you couldn’t make room for him in your home, don’t take it personally. Easier said than done.
Can you hear that their complaints or behaviors are about them? They are expressing frustration with their life and their situation and you just happen to be there to catch their words. Taking on their stuff is generally an unconscious choice. Our lives are intertwined with our families and it’s painfully difficult to extract ourselves from the family web.
I know. On several occasions I’ve pulled back from my family when I’ve realized I’ve taken on their pain as my own. I want to be 110% present to family in crisis, but then I lose myself. That’s no good for anyone. And even if you thought (as I have), “I should know better,” your caregiving journey presents you with opportunities to revisit life lessons.
Next time your loved one blames you for their unhappiness, take a deep breath, pause, and tune into your internal voices. What are they saying? Do you think you can fix their situation? Is it in your control?
Try not to catch their stuff. It’s not yours to fix, even though it may feel that way. Be strong; be honest; be true to yourself. Caregiving is a journey and you need to be healthy for the entire trip.