The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Caregiver Anger & Resentment, What Is The Root Cause?

December 13, 2022 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 139
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Caregiver Anger & Resentment, What Is The Root Cause?
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
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Show Notes

A year ago, I was so angry and resentful

I remember it was a struggle.  He was getting chemotherapy and I was wrapping my head around his stem cell transplant.  And, celebrating the holidays was a complete blur but I do remember how angry I was.

I was angry and resentful about cancer.   I was angry at the stress it was causing.  I was angry that I had to go through this stuff again.   

It took me weeks to let go of the anger and embrace all my feelings.  It was ok to be angry BUT I couldn’t stay there since it was sucking all the energy out of me.  

What’s the difference between anger and resentment?

Feelings of anger and resentment often occur together, and though similar, they’re actually two different things.

Anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Often, it’s a split-second reaction that occurs due to an irritating or frustrating event or situation. 

Resentment is more complex in that it occurs over time and incorporates several emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. Instead of being a reaction to a single event or situation, it’s a culmination of painful or disappointing feelings from the past, that make it difficult to remain present.  

As a caregiver, it’s easy to fluctuate between these two emotions. For example, you might feel angry if a loved one has an accident after you spent time and energy helping them to the bathroom. At the same time, you might feel resentful because every waking moment revolves around their care.   

Anger and resentment are common emotions, but when they infiltrate your personal relationships it can feel like the world is crumbling. 

Iceberg Model
Anger is called the secondary emotion.  We tend to resort to anger because we are covering up the real feelings which may sometimes vulnerable.  Under the water the iceberg is usually bigger.   Some emotions beneath anger may be difficult to identify, admit or discuss.    But when we really look under the water at the anger iceberg, we can uncover and mange our anger.  Anger has many triggers, such as people, places or situations.

When you take a step back and ask yourself questions to explore, you can really find out why you’re angry and why the resentment is so strong.  Ask yourself these questions: 

  • What is the root cause of the anger?
  • What triggers your anger?
  • What happens when you get angry?
  • Is my anger healthy?  
  • What's on the bottom of the iceberg?  

Then..  how can you cope with the root cause(s)?  

I went right back to the basics of what I have done over and over again:  focusing on gratitude, walking each day, talking to my community and finding joy in the little things.   

This caregiver journey is not easy but when you have figured out YOUR shifts and plans to implement in those challenging times, you CAN make it through with JOY.   It’s all about being the best caregiver you can be.  

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