Caregiver Tip: Handling Criticism

As a caregiver, you make decisions every day about care, schedules, meals, finances, and much, much more. You manage caregiving and balance it with all the other responsibilities you have, which may include work, kids, a spouse or significant other and household duties. Trying to keep all these “plates” spinning is an ongoing challenge…and so is maintaining a good attitude and staying sane.

Having a family member, friend or even a stranger criticize you can hurt deeply and can result in anger, resentment and hopelessness.

If you find yourself being criticized, consider the following tips:

  • Take a moment and breathe deeply.  Think about why the comment is so hurtful or annoying. Consider the following:
    • Do you resent doing all the work and having someone criticize you while not contributing?
    • Does the criticism undermine you confidence? Do you feel like you are doing a bad job?
    • Is the criticizer so persistent that you just want to block out their voice?
    • Do you feel insecure? 
  • If you feel insecure about your caregiving skills, you may be unsettled by a critical comment.
    • Think about the criticism, does it hurt because you agree with it?
    • Be honest with yourself if the criticism is fair, and look to take action rather than getting upset.
  • When criticism gets you down give yourself a pep talk.
    • Articulate all the things that are going right in your life and all the things that you are good at doing and managing.
    • If you have trouble making a list like this when you are feeling insecure or mad, create a list now. Tuck it inside your wallet so when you come across a criticizer, you are armed with the power of positive ideas about your life.
  • Interpret criticism as an offer to help.
    • For instance, if your sister in law criticizes your messy house, say something along the lines of, “The house really has gotten away from me. It would be great if you could stay with dad while I get caught up. Thanks!” Taking a criticism as an offer of help will either give you extra support or quiet the criticizer, and either way – you win.

Finding yourself hurt by criticism may be a sign that you are burned out. As a caregiver you should periodically evaluate how you are doing emotionally. It is in your best interest and the interest of you loved one to take care of yourself.