Peer Pressure, Guilt, and Duty
Carers can often experience peer pressure and guilt, due to their sense of duty.
Guilt is an emotion that many carers struggle with on a daily basis. It often results from carers holding themselves to a standard that is too high to attain. After all, we can only do so much as individuals.
It is very common for carers to get lost in their guilt and begin to spread themselves too thin, harshly compare themselves to other carers, and deprive themselves of helpful resources.
Below, we have listed some common forms of guilt experienced by carers.
This is backed up by anecdotal evidence from other unpaid carers, but also we have provided some affirmations for you to say to yourself when the feelings become overwhelming.
Guilt over comparison to other carers
Being a carer is hard enough without comparisons to other carers. With social media, forums, and blogs, carers can start comparing themselves to these online portrayals and begin to feel bad about themselves. Perhaps they see a carer who seems to be juggling things far better than they are, or who seems to be coping better with their loved one’s additional needs. This can lead to guilt over letting down your loved one or decreased feelings of self-worth.
It’s important to remember that social media is a sanitized version of reality. Often, you don’t see the hard moments or, if you do, you will see a hard moment in hindsight when things seem much calmer.
Everyone is just doing their best. People will have good and bad moments and some days feel better or worse than others.
Lots of carers have guilt over not feeling that they’re not good enough, saying things like:
‘I feel so guilty because I'm leaving her behind to pursue my dreams at University’
‘I feel like a total failure’
‘Nothing I do ever feels like it's good enough'
Never compare yourself to someone else, as we cannot presume to know everything about what goes on behind closed doors.
Guilt over being paid via Carer’s Allowance
Often there is a hesitation to accept the Carer’s Allowance due to the stigma of accepting money for caring for a loved one. Of course, carers do not care for their loved ones for money; the Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of it’s kind after all. Carers care for their loved ones out of love and duty.
However, caring can put a substantial strain on a person’s finances. It makes no sense to struggle when there is help out there. Both you and the person you care for should claim all that you’re entitled to. You can use benefits calculators to figure this out, like these ones here.
Carers often feel they shouldn’t get the Carer’s Allowance because:
‘I don’t do it for money, I do it for love’
‘I’m worried that I won’t classify as an unpaid carer if I receive the Carer’s Allowance.’
You are fully deserving of all the support that you are legally entitled to. You are doing unpaid work and contributing to saving the NHS £132 billion per year. The acceptance of support does not take away from all of the good you’re doing.
Guilt over transitioning to professional care
This is often viewed by carers as a failure, but it is far from it and often an inevitable part of your caring journey. While you love and care for your loved one, sometimes professional help is needed for particular challenges or health changes.
Carers often voice the guilt or doubt they feel over having to reaching out to professionals for help:
‘What do professional carers know? They don’t know my dad.’
‘I know the help from social services won’t be enough and I have no energy to call for a new assessment.
‘The idea of getting external support means that the guilt is killing me’
If professional intervention is needed, this is not a comment on your caring or how much you care about your loved one. Ultimately, it is about what is best for both of you and it is not all on you to fix everything. It is worth seeking help even if you initially feel doubtful.
Guilt over losing your temper
This can be extremely hard on both their carer and their loved one. Caring is a highly emotional journey, where often conflict ensues. This can be due to conflicting ideologies, complications as a result of mental health issues, or struggles adjusting to changes in family dynamics.
It is important to draw the line and distinction between losing your temper and being abusive. It would be advisable for everyone reading this to take a look at what this distinction is by clicking this link.
With that being said, we are all human. The emotional challenges of caring can prove too much at times.
Often, carers have highlighted issues like:
‘You lose your identity’
‘I’m struggling with burn-out and I’m having a mental breakdown.’
‘I’m really angry at the world and scared of the future’
Communication is key here. It is advisable to avoid pride and ego getting in the way when caring for a loved one. If you feel you overstepped a boundary, it is best to apologise and make amends.
Then, ensure that you forgive yourself and give yourself permission to move on from the event. This will also help you be the best carer that you can be.
If you lose your temper and get upset at the person you care for, all you can do is apologize and reach out. If you’re struggling with managing anger or other difficult emotions, seek help from a professional.
Ensure you are mindful over whether your behavior crosses over into abuse. The important thing is that you do not feel overwhelmed and your loved one feels safe, if either of these things are not working for you it would be a good idea to seek professional help or a mediator.
If you relate to any of the common forms of carer’s guilt listed above, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We provide carer support calls to guide you through any struggle you’re going through and meet your problems with solutions.
Alternatively, download our free app to help you manage your caring responsibilities easily and effectively.