Hurt Feelings? Think Twice Before You Fire Back
I often hear people say how much a friend's offhanded comment hurt, but when I ask if they think the comment was really intended to hurt, they usually ponder a bit and finally say, well, no. If we all looked behind the minor statements that happen to rub us the wrong way and searched to see if there was a blatant intention to cause pain, a lot of time-wasting feuding and heartache could be avoided.
I think the ability to look behind hurtful comments is especially important for family caregivers to develop early and to be very conscious of, because that's a time in life when we can become overly sensitive and vulnerable. And then, when dementia is added to the caregiving mix and intermittent illogical and irrational statements are made, the ability to recognize the difference between non-intention, blatant intention, and complete irrationality can save a caregiver's sanity.
I always say caregiving requires being a psychologist in the trenches to be able to continue day after day and cope effectively. It takes a lot of self-awareness and introspection to rise above surface situations.
I wish I had learned this sooner, as I was so beaten down and sensitive while caring for my aging parents, often misconstruing things people said to me. And months into it, my father said angrily that I had never done anything to help him and my mother! Since I didn't understand the intermittent quality of early dementia, I dismissed the fact that it was untrue, and instead absorbed all that pain as if it was.
I thought that was what my father thought of me, since he acted totally normal the next day! Once I understood dementia and learned how to let these comments just roll off, I was able to look behind the statements-usually to find frustration and fear in my father. Then I was much better able to help him at that level-and without absorbing the pain.
If you are in the midst of caregiving or know it is coming your way, practice now on just letting go of any unintentional hurtful comments your friends or family make. And if you do find intentional hurts, commit to resolving them quickly and without retaliation, because as a caregiver, you are going to need all the friends you can get!
You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at ElderRage.com