Monday, July 27, 2015

Leadership Skills & Personal Growth

You probably don’t sit around a lot (if at all!) thinking about your leadership skills.  But, what if you could grow your skills by viewing life in a new way?  You're already on the path to learning new skills to be the best caregiver possible, so consider your value. 

You navigate the medical maze.  You research and communicate to a care team and your family member about medications, appointments, mobility logistics, and scheduling.  Aren’t you the "leader of the pack" for caregiving in your family? 

John C. Maxwell, the leadership expert defines Leadership as Influence.  Your ability to consider your tasks from the perspective of your value and influence is powerful.  Science has shown that seeing situations and communications positively can lead to better outcomes.  And, improving your communication skills (tone, presence, body language, preparation and more) feels better when you view yourself as “someone to reckon with” due to your skills.  This is growing your leadership skills and mindset.  

Positively framing your thoughts leads to personal growth and an evolving positive perspective when practiced mindfully.  Wonderfully too, Leadership Skills can be developed at the pace you choose.  You cannot always change the situation around you, but you can change your reaction and response to it.

There is enormous value in being able to express yourself well and to show in subtle ways you are resourceful, knowledgeable and worth listening to as a caregiver. The confidence with becoming a more assured Leader will help you in every aspect of your lives.  

Sometimes it takes someone else to state what you don't yet believe, but the caregivers we know are strong, smart, solutions-oriented, and care warriors.  To help, take a look at any of the books on the Recommended Reading section; just 10 pages or 10 minutes listening a day can change your life for the better.

We strongly believe in you!  

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Caregiver Friendships - Evolving or Disappearing?

Simple fact:  caregiving is not an easy task.  It changes you and your previous life.

Many friends may love you, but they may be afraid of being put in the same role, so they now dodge you.  Their avoidance may be amplified because they find great difficulty in accepting what has happened to you and your family.  In others, the illness or injury may be painful to see. Not everyone has the same emotional maturity.

The best may also be brought out when you need it the most.  The friends who call, provide help unasked, and just listen when you need it are priceless.  When friends find the changes in you and your family member too hard to accept, those friends may fade away.  Try hard not to judge them, but instead appreciate those that remain true friends, especially as they support you when you are nearly out of patience and hope.

Support from others that understand your daily life can sustain you. Those friends are to be cherished and it's important to support them in reverse. That's a balanced friendship.  You may also find it wise to renew older friendships with those who are not caregivers, but who know YOU, and will listen, not judging you on hard days.  Judgment can wear down the strongest caregiver.
Be wise in who you surround yourself with, and approach new friendships slowly to discover the trust level possible. We are not suggesting wariness of new people, but we've all had the experience of being used by others and it doesn't feel good.  Betrayals by those we've let become close can cut deeply, and you want to avoid that as much as possible.

Assess yourself when you're with someone. Do you feel an energy or psychological boost when together or after a visit?  Do you feel uplifted or calmer?  Those are good friends!  Add people to your life that inflate you and who give you oomph and confidence. Minimize contact with those that diminish you. Reduce the drama; it's usually not worth it.  

There will always be both kinds of friends in the world, and seek support from good friends as they will grow with you.

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Optimism is Contagious! Choose Those Around You Wisely

It can be very challenging to be positive when those around you are negative – harder still when those individuals are family members. How can you stay more positive in that situation?

The dynamics of any group are strongly affected by the mindset of those around you.  Since it's next to impossible to change other people (good luck with that!) or to avoid them if they're family (relocation?), one way to positively affect your own viewpoint is to consider your reaction when others act negatively.

Being around those always harping and negative is draining.  Being around those who are positive and optimistic can lift you up.  Think inflate versus deflate! If you're blessed to have a combination of people around you that can support you when you're down and you can do the same for them, that's great. There will always be the naysayers and some people are comfortable in their drama - but don't buy into that.

Work to five a handful of trusted friends who are positive, and can be called when you need a boost.  Do the same for them. If you surround yourself with positive people, then the negative ones you can't avoid will matter less to you.  I call them Toxic Clouds and I work to be pleasant to them, but remove myself when it's not mentally healthy for me to be around them. Do you really need Toxic Rain to fall on you?
Also, positive people help YOU to view things differently and that can be immeasurably helpful. We all have tough, down days, but when you can recall a kind, warm memory from something someone said to you, or incorporate it into your life, you will view things with greater optimism. I love the words from the book, The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson:  the little things in life are easy to do, but just as easy Not to do. 

As you learn to wade through the water with a more positive view, remember to pass it on.  Mirror the positive attitudes shown you, and now you become the Lifter and it becomes a habit to tune out the negative and re-frame it positively. Just as muscles learn movement to create muscle memory, so can your mind.  

Optimism is contagious, so seek new ways of dealing with the negatives you cannot avoid, surround yourself with Safe People, and grow your optimism and positive perspective daily. You CAN turn negative drama into Harmony for yourself.

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team