I learned about the power of positive self-talk when my children were small. I would cross the street with Nicholas in his wheelchair, my daughter Natalie in her stroller and our golden retriever on a leash. I used to push Nick and Natalie at once, while keeping the dog with us by strapping the leash to my wrist.
I remember vividly concentrating hard to keep our little convoy moving and making it to the park. Inside my head, I shouted “Wow, you are good. You are so powerful! Who else could get across the street alive with one kid an wheelchair, another in a stroller plus a dog? You go, girl!”
I don’t know how I came to develop this kind of self-talk into a habit, but I did. I make myself laugh sometimes, because often my internal pats on the back are ludicrous – I’ll congratulate myself for boiling an egg.
But for caregivers, this positive internal dialogue is a useful arsenal in the battle against guilt and despair. Today, try telling yourself that you are clever, resourceful and kind. Tomorrow, do it again. Tell your loved one about your personal project and encourage them to try it too. Let me know how it goes!