Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LEARN: Managing Triangular Communication

This is a practical blog post to correspond with the video of the same name. Learning this skill can make your world much, much better.  It will also baffle your adversaries! 

Do you recall a conversation with one person where a third person inserted themselves into the discussion?  Did you notice that the conversation rapidly became frustrating as your one-on-one conversation became a two-against-one situation with another agenda?  Triangular Conversation is in play... where you previously had a direct conversation.

                          Person 1 <----------------------------> Person 2

Certain people regularly use Triangular Communication as a means of manipulation and control. It's a good idea to manage, alter, or avoid these conversational events.  We see it early in life, when two children playing together enjoy themselves; but when a third arrives, the dynamic may be competitive and adversarial.  This challenging discussion style may be found whenever people communicate.

Triangular conversations have the potential to take on a difficult dynamic and alter the previous one-on-one communication.  If the person is simply nosing into your discussion and offering unsolicited advice, the triangle is merely annoying, but still creates a Villain, a Victim, and a Hero.  If there is a negative intention, you now have a toxic triangle, where you may feel the effects long after the discussion.  In either case, which one do you think you will be?  No doubt, you don't need this in your day!

                                                           .   .
                                                         .       .
                                                       .           .
                                       Victim   ...............   Hero
Learn to recognize this destructive communication style and then intentionally remove yourself from the discussion. This happens among family members, the care team, children, and peers.  Awareness is key.  Once you've recognized the situation as a triangle, extricate yourself, disengage, and then re- engage when you can discuss the matter one-on-one.   

This is a drama you can identify and avoid. 

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team 

Monday, May 11, 2015

LIVE: Self Check-In

So often as caregivers, we are running so hard, putting ourselves last, and not realizing we are burnt out until we fall ill. Or, we know we’re overwhelmed, but we accept it without question.  What happens when the caregiver is down for the count - the wheels have a tendency to come off, don't they?

Make a promise to yourself to Check-In at least weekly. Better yet, do the same with a trusted caregiver or friend as an “accountability partner” so you don’t neglect to consider your own health.

 Ask these questions to start:

·         Am I eating well? Skipping meals, snacking too much?

·         Do I laugh each day?  Red flag if you don't find something amusing each day, even if you don't laugh out loud. How many times do we text LOL, but not DO it?

·       Am I drinking enough water?  Do I exist on coffee and soda instead?

·         Do I spend quiet time, reflective time, prayer, or meditation each day?

·         Am I sleeping well or enough? 

·         Am I getting any exercise?

·       Do I interact with others each day?  In-person is preferable, but at least by phone to hear a voice or online if all else fails?

If you're aware that you’re not checking in, or struggling when you do, we urge you to talk to someone professionally. Many physicians are only now realizing the strain caregivers carry and how to assist you, but it's growing.  Seek community resources such as faith-based counseling, or call Give An Hour ( for cost-free help.  

Life is so precious and perhaps you cannot change your situation, but you can change aspects of taking care of you.

Caregivers are the heartbeat of the family, and make the active choice to care for you.

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

LEAD: Self-Development

Caregivers of all eras say they miss their personal time to learn and remain sharp and inquisitive.  How do you find the time to keep growing intellectually, when caregiving is your priority?

A path of life-long learning keeps you sharper and more engaged, though caregivers often feel too weary or too constrained to begin.  First, know that you are learning each day as you walk this caregiver journey, and the skills you nurture along the way will eventually be clear and valuable to you when you look back.

As you consider one day at a time, begin a mind-shift to seek those small pockets of time that might be possible for you. There are some powerful “time-suckers” in each day, but if you can find even 15 minutes you devote to yourself, you will feel empowered.  Feel guilty?  Try not to, as small bits of respite time improve your caregiving.  There’s a good reason that on an airplane, the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. Yes, there are times this is impossible, but if you make the choice to find that small pocket of time, you won’t be as drained.  Hope is an energizer.

Reading quietly may challenge, but try turning your drive times into a mobile leadership class with an audio book.  That waiting time at the VA?  Listen to 15 minutes of good content or about a topic you care about. Turn your otherwise “wasted time” into a learning university.  You can download audio books free from the public library and listen to 15 minutes of meditation, your topic of interest, leadership or inspirational messages.

Leadership expert, Jim Rohn says that if you spend more time working on yourself than your job (caregiving), that the rest of your life is altered positively by what you've learned.  As you become involved in learning new things, you are also more inclined to talk about them and move outside your personal shell or bubble.  Sharing those thoughts with others spurs engagement and may inspire them to think differently too.  Sharing your new knowledge or perspective is reinforced by voicing it to someone else.  It's growth!

Think of yourself as a hermit crab who lives in a shell that fits his size.  Isn't it time you grew in learning new ways to think, vary your viewpoint, and learn empowering, positive skills - in your spare moments?  Be the hermit crab that grows to need a larger shell and grow during every phase of your life!

Linda Kreter & 
VeteranCaregiver Team