How to Accept the Unacceptable for Caregivers

emotional self-care mental self-care self-care tips spiritual self-care
A couple receives bad news from a doctor as the man puts his arm around his wife's shoulders in comfort. How to Accept the Unacceptable for Caregivers

Several of my family and friends have recently found themselves facing a new diagnosis. They have been confronted, for the first time, with what it means to raise a child with complex care needs. They are trying to cope with feelings of shock, grief and the uncertainty of a life turned upside down. They are learning how to accept the unacceptable.

This is not a foreign concept for those of us who have had a child diagnosed with a critical illness or disability.  I remember well, the first several months after Our Girl was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was a struggle just to process what it all meant for our life and for her future. I was aching for security and accepting our new circumstances felt impossible.

Learning that your child has a critical illness or disability is an event so far outside of your control, is often so painful and so destructive, that there is no way you can consider those circumstances to be acceptable. However, there is literally nothing you can do to change the circumstances and so you must find a way to accept and to adapt or suffer even more in your resistance.

Below, are 5 helpful tips parent caregivers can use to adapt to unacceptable circumstances and move forward in a positive, healthy and proactive way?


Tip #1 - Find Trust:

One thing that makes painful circumstances so hard to accept is your inability to control what is happening to you. This can be compounded in situations that take you by surprise and rip away your sense of security. You are often left feeling alone and hopeless.

When this happens, it is important to find a source of support you can trust. This might be trust in your partner, finding reassurance that you are facing the uncertainty of the future together. This may be trust found in a close family member or friend with whom you can confide. Or, perhaps you can find trust in a professional care provider who can guide you through the crisis ahead. You may even find that you need to be proactive in building trust in yourself.

READ MORE: You are the Expert

However, no human being can provide the security of true control. This kind of trust can only come through faith in a power greater than yourself. In circumstances where so much is uncertain and beyond your own understanding, establishing a foundation in faith can be the ultimate road to acceptance.


Tip #2 - Learn & Engage:

When you are thrown into a crisis, you often do not have the knowledge or background that you need to face the circumstances with confidence. There is so much to know and no way to know it. You may find yourself feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

However, while you may not be able to control the circumstances at their core, you do have the power to make educated, logical and positive decisions that will support yourself, and others, as you go through this experience. The best way to make sure that you are able to make these decisions is to learn as much as you can about the circumstances you are facing and to become engaged in the process. The more you know, and the less distanced from the process you are, the more in control you feel, and the less frightening and intimidating the circumstances become.


Tip #3 - Grow & Change:

No matter how bad things are today, it is important to remember that the world is bigger than your circumstances. It can feel like the world is falling apart around you but life will go on, time will pass, and seasons will change. This is a good thing! There is something very comforting in the constant of nature.

Ultimately, the passage of time will change the circumstances you face, even if you may not be able to imagine how that might be possible. I’m not saying that the passage of time will make things better or that things can’t get worse. What I am saying is that, as time passes, you will grow and change along with it.

You will not always feel as blindsided or as unprepared as you do when first faced with a crisis. As you learn and engage in your circumstances, you will adapt and adjust. Even if you doubt your ability to do so, right now, you can be reassured that you will find the resources you need to rise to the challenge.  


Tip #4 – Focus on Home:

Often the circumstances you can’t accept are complex and there truly is nothing you can do to change the source of your struggle. However, you can focus on those things that you do have control over. What can you adjust in order to support yourself, and our family, as you manage the core issue you are struggling to accept?

One of the most impactful aspects of your circumstances is the atmosphere you set inside of your own home. Will you nurture a leery, fearful or pessimistic atmosphere or will you opt for an encouraging, positive, hopeful and optimistic tone? Your home is your refuge and foundation. It is the place where your children learn, grow, and heal. The perspective you model in your home is powerful and entirely within your control.


Tip #5 - Reflect:

The key to acceptance just might be found in your past experiences with disappointment and crisis. Reflect on those past circumstances that felt outside of your control. How did those experiences work out for you? What did you do well? Can you can do that again? What did not go so well that you could improve upon this time?

When you know yourself well enough to recognize and even anticipate your typical responses to crisis, both positive and negative, you can use this knowledge to cope in a way that nurtures your well-being rather than harms it. We all have common signs and symptoms (insomnia, anxiety, anger, etc.) that serve as indicators of wellness and let us know whether we are managing our circumstances in an effective way.


Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed by circumstances that feel unacceptable, it is important to focus inward on your own well-being.  Allowing your health and wellness to deteriorate will do nothing to move your state of mind toward acceptance or to secure the strength, energy, and resources you need to manage the weight of your circumstances.



Self-Care Action Discussed in this Post:

When faced with crisis, take a few minutes to reflect on the suggestions given above. What actions can you take to bring your mind and heart closer to acceptance, and move forward with hope? Choose just one and begin taking action, today.



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