News from Jude Bijou and Attitude Reconstruction™
Joy, Love, and Peace for 2019
October 2019 Tips for Care-takers
How to Communicate Simply, Lovingly, and Effectively
October 19, 2019
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I am pleased to announce the reprinting (and slightly edited)
Attitude Reconstruction. It includes a revised "action" chapter, full Blueprints on the inside front and back cover, and little futzes here and there. Available, signed, sealed, and delivered for only $15.00 (includes tax.).
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Praise for AR and the newsletter.
"This newsletter (on dealing with transitions) really spoke to me and I just wanted you to know this. It was a good summary and re-cap of the work I did with you several years ago. Every so often, the sadness, fear, and anger come up again and I find myself revisiting your simple, yet very effective, methods in handling what comes up. I really get so much from your newsletters, so I hope they keep coming."
Greetings dear ones,
First off, this is a public service announcement: the one day free communication class is next Saturday in Santa Barbara. Come join us for a day of practical information that we all should have been taught growing up. Check out the link on the left hand column for details.
In the course of our journey through life, we may find ourselves unwittingly thrust into the role of caretaker, that is, a person who must care for others. I don't mean care-taking as a means to keep others from having emotions or to keep them from not liking us. I mean, we become responsible for someone else's well being. It can be tough, especially if the task falls on us unsolicited and it goes on for quite a while. So this newsletter suggests some ways to maintain life balance during the time when another is dependent on our good care.
A Few Articles
And here are photos of assorted
in weird positions.
"What's My Line" with mystery guest,
Eleanor Roosevelt in 1953
! You can skip to Eleanor, but the whole program is a flash back to simpler times.
All black & white cartoons "borrowed" from Cartoonbank.
All photos by Bren Fraser from her most recent back-packing trip to
and fill out the section on the right hand side of the page. After looking at probably 50 photos, it felt like I had done the trip too, but spared myself 70,000 mosquitos.
Why self-care is so critical for people doing the care-taking and why is it so hard for many caregivers to ask for the emotional and logistical help they need?
As the airlines say, in the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure, affix your own oxygen mask before assisting others. If you're exhausted, your thoughts, actions, emotions, and spirit are all compromised. It takes tremendous stamina to be alert and of service in a loving and constructive way. So take care of yourself so you can give with love and respect to those in need.
We have the illusion that we can shoulder it all and that not being able to adequately care for our parents or patients indicates we are weak or somehow lacking. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes more than one person to care for an elder or an individual dependent on others for their survival. This is especially true because we must simultaneously maintain our own lives and perhaps even care for our own children. This is no small task. Asking for help requires practice, as with any new skill (keep reading).
What is the main health impact of not dealing with stress or conflict and why it's bad for us?
Off the top of my head, I count 7 but I'm sure I'm missing some!
1. Stress (physical, mental, or emotional), anxiety, and overwhelm make us more susceptible to illness.
2. When we don't express our emotions physically and constructively, we lose our balance and our ability to experience the emotions of joy, love, and peace.
3. Our words and actions may unwittingly convey impatience and frustration, and put a bummer vibe over our interactions.
4. Our efficiency and clarity take a nose-dive, putting ourselves and those we are caring for at risk.
5. The ability to be empathetic and see the good in those we care for is at risk.
6. When we don't address and get help with the increased workload, we tend to neglect our other responsibilities, like our spouse, children, and work.
7. This scenario impacts our relationships and will eventually increase the amount of discord, animosity, and distance.
What are 3 easy-to-implement strategies we can employ to reduce stress and how that will help?
1. Most importantly, find a support person. This means getting help caring for your in-need parent, relative, or patient. In terms of support, call on and get firm commitments from other family members, friends, and neighbors. If possible, hire additional help or take advantage of volunteer services so that the responsibility doesn't land totally on your shoulders. If money is an issue, most communities offer some form of assistance and support. Hospital social workers are a great source for referrals to agencies offering help.
2. To reduce your stress level, take good care of your own self. (Remember the airlines slogan). In terms of helping yourself, find someone who will just listen so you can vent and share your trials and tribulations. Don't abandon your self-care activities. Don't indulge addictions such as sugar, alcohol, coffee, or burning the candle at both ends. Exercise regularly. Eat well. Keep in touch with friends.
3. Speak up constructively when encountering conflicts. Deal only with the issue at hand. You must avoid bringing in past unresolved problems and stick to the present. Deal with one issue at a time and speak up about yourself. The worst thing you can do is to "you" the other person by accusing or blaming. That means, don't tell others about themselves, what they did wrong or how they are at fault.
Stick to talking about what is true for you. State what your opinions, needs, and wants are about the one specific topic. In resolving conflicts, all parties need to have an uninterrupted opportunity to speak about what is true for them. This can pave the way towards finding a common ground on which you can begin to find a solution.
Care-giving necessitates a selflessness, the degree to which will vary dependent on many situational factors, and this can be draining. You sacrifice needed time and emotional involvement. Left unresolved, this stress impacts a care-givers emotional and physical well being.
How to Communicate about Common Conflicts
In all instances, follow the Attitude Reconstruction "four rules of communication":
1. Stick to talking about yourself.
2. Stay specific and address one topic at a time.
3. Be kind, which means be positive and look for good solutions and recognize good efforts.
4. Listen well, and give others at least 50% of the airtime.
This means, resist "You-ing" them (telling them what they aren't doing well) and focus on kindly speaking up your "I" and a specific request.
If you follow the four rules and after the opportunity to understand each person's position, you can then work together to find the best win-win solution. Here are some examples of how to speak up using "I"s, "specifics" and "kindness."
* A sibling or other family member who doesn't participate in care or provide support: Speak up about your need, such as "I'm really burned out and need help in this situation that affects all of us."
* A parent needing care who is uncooperative: Speak up, saying something along the lines of, "I really need your help. I'm tired and frustrated and am really trying my best."
* Frustrating situation with healthcare providers: "I appreciate how attentive and patient you are with my mother. And, it's important to me that she takes all of her medications regularly. So I'd appreciate it if you would adhere to the schedule we've written out."
* Your behavior is getting unkind: "I'm feeling really frustrated/edgy right now and so I need to take a break. I'll be back in ten minutes. I'm just going to sit out on the front porch."
If you could only give two pieces of advice to a paid or unpaid care provider, what would they be and why?
First, speak up what's true for you about you. That is, keep saying your "I"s about specific things (avoid generalities like always or never) with family members, friends, patients, and bosses, etc.
Second, go for empathy. The person you are caring for is doing the best they can under the circumstances. The best you can do is to try and understand them and what they are facing. It's not productive to try to convince them that you know better than they do. Ask them to tell you stories about their life, before you were born, their struggles and triumphs. And then listen attentively. (This is the fourth Communication rule.) Remember, the person needing care could be you!
Thanks for readin
g this newsletter. If you have any feedback, suggestions about a newsletter theme, or general comments, I enjoy hearing from you, so feel free to write me at