Accepting vs. resisting your caregiving experience; The choice is yours (Part Four)

This is Part Four, the last in this March series of guest blog appearances about Intentional vs Unintentional Caregiving, and the cost and dynamics associated with both.

Sometimes just accepting the things we cannot change has a profound affect on our ability to continue. The word acceptance is defined as a person’s agreement to experience a situation, to follow a process or condition even if it appears negative or uncomfortable, without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

I’m so thankful for having Holly Whiteside of Transforming Caregiving and having her share this valuable information regarding this particular topic. Thank you Holly!

What you resist, persists — Carl Jung

Part 4 — The Payoff of Intentional Acceptance

Caregiving is littered with opportunities to practice the opposite of acceptance, resistance. It is normal to resist the behavior of others, the aging of your loved one, your own feelings of powerlessness, and the undeniable facts of aging and caregiving. That grip of tension in the jaw or solar plexus is a sure sign that resistance to something is kicking in.

Resistance is one of the caregiver’s biggest energy drains. When you’re angry, frustrated, or judgmental, you’re locked into negative energy. The more you resist, the more time and energy you waste, the more resistance there is, and so on in a self-perpetuating drain cycle.

So, what to do with that? We start where we must always start, by looking straight at it. Even as we’re groping for a different action to take, it can be that the only right action is inaction. Stop. Take a breath. Notice what is. You can’t get beyond resistance until you clearly see it. What do you resist in caregiving? Make a list. Just seeing the list in front of you can give you some power over it.

What then? “What You Resist Persists” means also that “What you focus on is what you get.” Focus too long on being angry and you experience more anger. Focus on another’s annoying behaviors and you see only those annoying behaviors. Or, as Abraham Maslow put it, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. So we don’t want to focus too long on our list.

Then what can we do? Steadily and intentionally question the source of the resistance and then seek out opportunities for acceptance, or allowing. Your greatest freedom rises from your power to intentionally choose to accept as much as possible in this caregiving journey of change. As the serenity prayer suggests, accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and be aware of the difference. I would add to that, then Re-focus. When you see things you cannot change yet have a hard time accepting, refocus.

You can’t change other people, you can’t change many things in the course of caregiving, but you can wrest some peace from the grip of negativity, fear, and judgment. It takes no time at all. In fact, you can save precious moments, reclaiming them through acceptance and refocusing.

Check out “The Caregiver Hour” Radio Show

Throughout April, the topic of “The Caregiver Hour” weekly radio show will be “The Intentional Caregiver”. In four shows, Holly will join host Kim Linder and her guests to empower caregivers to approach caregiving with mindful intentionality.

“The Caregiver Hour” airs every Monday at noon EST online at or on Tampa Bay radio WHNZ Station 1250 AM.

JUST A NOTE: I (Susan) will be a guest on The Caregiver Hour on April 4th – be sure and tune in to hear me.

About the Author:

Holly Whiteside, caregiver’s coach & advocate, is author of “The Caregiver’s Compass” a handbook of tools fostering balance, and “Exploring Hell and Other Warm Places”, a memoir. Holly is also an Eden Alternative Associate, Hospice Spiritual Care volunteer, and a Long-term Care Ombudsman. Learn more about her work:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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