Journey of a lifetime

Image: Journey of a lifetime

In this session of Caregiver Tip Tuesday we look at constructive ways to handle sadness and anger.

You have just set out on an incredible journey that you would rather not take if at all possible. You don't have maps to show you the best routes over the hills and through the valleys. Already you feel lost and frightened.

The most important piece of equipment that you will need on this journey is an emotional barometer to help you understand what's going on for you at any given moment. You will need to be patient with yourself as you learn to feel what you feel without judgement, to identify your feelings and express them in a healthy manner.

I would suggest you plan to set aside private time for yourself each day. This time should be used to focus on yourself, your needs and wants in that moment. Perhaps you can nap, mediate or read your favorite book.

Perhaps you need to cry.You may not know why you feel like crying but that's not important. Cry without judgement. Tears release all kinds of toxins from the body. It's a healthy thing to do!

People tend to be afraid of crying. "I can't fall apart right now." ``I need to be strong.``

It takes courage to let your tears flow, because it`s only when you let down your guard and cry that you come face to face with your own vulnerability - your own limitations. No matter how much youlove your loved one, you can`t take their pain away from them. However, if you have faced your own feelings of sadness, fear, anger and guilt, you will have the strength, courage and wisdom to allow your loved one the freedom to express their feelings as well. It`s so important that they are not protecting you from their pain and thus facing their fears alone.

I have yet to see someone who understands their feelings fall apart. Crying is like the tide. When the first wave of pain hits you it is at it`s strongest, lasts the longest - just like high tide. Slowly and gently the waves begin to recede because you have expressed it. Low tide will return just as peace will return to the one who has had the courage to accept their own humanity.

Remember that love and fear can`t exist in the same heart at the same time. Therefore focus on filling your heart with love and compassion for yourself. My experience has been, your heart will expand to include more love for everyone in your life as well.

You may also be feeling very angry. Anger tells us that we have something going on in our lives we don`t like. It shows us we have the power to address the issue. It`s very important to express your anger. However, you need to express it constructively - before you try to resolve the issue that has caused it.

How you express it depends on your preference and what makes you feel the most comfortable. You can write a letter to the issue or person involved stating all the reasons for your anger. Remember this letter is for your eyes only. Read it out loud with anger in your voice. Read it as often as you need, until your anger dissipates.

Physical activity can help to release the angry energy as long as you focus on your anger, not on resolving the issue at this time.

Another little trick is to lock yourself in the bathroom. Turn on the fan or run the water to ensure you won`t be overheard . Visualize the object of your anger sitting on the toilet and express your anger in any way that feels comfortable. You may want to read the letter you have written or just let your anger out. When you have finished, flush the toilet and feel the relief as you watch it all go away. Your mind will clear and you will better be able to see the best way of resolving the situation.

Anger is a healthy emotion that can empower us to handle the challenges in our lives. Because we tend to be passionate about whatever situation has caused our anger, our expression of that anger can become a weapon instead of a tool to guide us, as a result of anger being released. Learn to enlist your anger as your ally.

Regardless of what you are feeling, the best gift you can give yourself is the opportunity to share what you`re experiencing with someone you trust. Perhaps your partner or best friend. You may also choose to seek support from a professional therapist, life coach or from the leader of your faith community or support group. Remember that you don`t need to walk through life alone.

Until the next time, take very gentle care of yourself!

Patricia Butler is a Physiotherapist, has had a long standing career in life coaching and development consulting. Over the years she has helped a number of caregivers and patients through various life altering situations. Her motto? "Don't wait for a crisis. The smaller the mountain, the easier it is to climb." Patricia will be blogging on a number of topics including life transitions, healing, communication issues, and positive lifestyles changes.