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Caregiving and the Power of Words
From:
Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiver Subject Matter Expert Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiver Subject Matter Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Denver, CO
Wednesday, December 28, 2022

 

The Caring Generation® – Episode 157 December 28, 2022. Caregiving expert Pamela D Wilson shares insights into the effect of words and thoughts on caregiver health and well-being. Creating intentional pauses while interacting with others can be a path to creating more positive relationships.

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Have you considered the link between caregiving and the power of words? Do you notice how words, your thoughts or statements, and your interactions with others make you feel?

Caregivers tell me that their lives feel out of control. Staying on this topic, let’s stretch our minds a little to link words and thoughts with neuropsychology, which is the study of the relationship between behaviors, emotions, and cognition—also known as brain function and quantum physics, and consciousness and other terms that some people call “woo-woo.”

Caregiving and the Power of Words

The words we say to ourselves and the thoughts we think each day greatly affect the type of day we have—good or bad. Think about this in the context of receiving a compliment that makes you feel good.

A compliment can brighten a day. On the other hand, think of a time you were at the end of receiving criticism that might not have made you feel good. Your day may have gone downhill or sideways depending on the source and the intention of the criticism.

Words Have Energy

Words have vibrational energy, as does the sound of a voice. You can speak in a soft voice or whisper, and the tone your voice gives off can be comforting.

On the other hand, if the words you say in a soft voice or whisper are mean, angry, critical, or demeaning, even if you whisper the words, they probably will be received as threatening. So when you think about a whisper or a soft voice being a vehicle or a method to transfer words, it is the words that create the effect.

Linking Words, Feelings, and Intentions

During this program, we will link words and feelings. Then we will talk about intentions, which are commitments to ourselves about our actions.

Being mindful of words and intentions can help manage the results or the outcomes of daily life. So instead of allowing the words and actions of others to guide you emotionally, you retain power over your feelings, emotions, and intentions. And then, finally, by understanding caregiving and the power of words, you can improve relationships with others in all areas of life.

Lourdes France and The Healing  Power of Water

Lourdes, France, is famous for its healing waters and the possibility of miracles. There have been 70 confirmed Miracles at Lourdes since the first apparition appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl, Saint Bernadette, in 1858.

Six million people visit Lourdes annually, many hoping for a health cure or to experience a miracle. So why is Lourdes France relevant to a discussion about caregiving and the power of words and intentions? The relevance is water.

The human body is composed of 55-60% water which is why drinking water is vital to staying healthy. Considering the body’s water content leads us to think of science or neuroscience.

The Hidden Messages in Water

Masaru Emoto was a Japanese author, businessman, and pseudoscientist who believed that human thought and words could affect the molecular structure of water. How might this be possible?

Emoto placed drops of water from different places around the world, Lourdes France being one of the locations, and he looked for patterns in the structure of the water.

Now, if you’ve ever seen a snowflake under a microscope or a picture of a snowflake, then you have an idea of what Masaru saw when looking through his microscope at drops of water.

Masaru’s experiments with water can be compared to the example I gave earlier of a soft voice or a whisper being a delivery vehicle for supportive or critical words and the effect.

He collected water from all over the world—tap water, lakes, streams—and examined it under a microscope. He placed the water samples in jars and wrote words on the jars like love, joy, hate, and sickness. He played music for the water in the jars.

Hado

When looking at the water crystals under a microscope, the crystals associated with the words love and joy were symmetrical and in beautiful patterns. At the same time, the crystals associated with hate and sickness appeared crooked, disjoined, and non-symmetrical.

He called this the science of Hado (H-A-D-O). The idea is that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality and health. So if you are curious about Masaru’s research, you can check it out by searching for videos with his name Masaru Emoto on YouTube.

He also published several books, The Hidden Messages in Water, Love Thyself, and the Secret Life of Water. Whether or not water reacts to positive and negative feelings, I don’t know.

Beliefs Can Shape Reality

What I do know is that if one believes something to be true, it is true for that person. Beliefs can shape reality. Hope makes people take extraordinary steps to accomplish the impossible.

  • So it is crazy to believe that if words affect water, the way we talk to ourselves can affect the body, which is composed of a great deal of water?
  • Is it practical to believe that caregiving and the power of words can affect your relationship with the person you care for?

Many people begin the day with positive affirmations. But even with affirmations, there must be a sense of reality, passion, and steps to take action. Life doesn’t change unless we change what we are doing or the work we put into a goal.

Talents are Gifts

And then there are skills that are required to do some things. I learned to play the piano as a child.

I greatly enjoy music but playing the piano was not something I was good at—it was an effort where no matter how much work I put in, playing remained a struggle. However, to this day, I enjoy listing to piano music because it calms my mind and brings peace to my heart.

On the other hand, a child who learns to play the piano at a young age and loves music may become a concert pianist or a musician. Likewise, people may be born with particular talents or qualities to do one thing or another—like being a caregiver.

Caregiving Takes a Toll on the Mind and Body

Being a caregiver is challenging. It’s about responding to health problems, the health of the caregiver, or the health of family members or friends.

The stress of caregiving takes a negative toll on many aspects of a caregiver’s life. The American Psychological Association published a study called Stress in America 2022 that confirmed around three-quarters, or 76% of adults, said that they experienced impacts to their health due to stress in the last 30 days.

The effects on health were headache (38%), fatigue (35%), feeling nervous or anxious (34%), and or feeling depressed or sad (33%). Other health impacts included feeling overwhelmed, changing sleeping habits, and constantly worrying.

Some caregivers confirmed using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax. A majority of adults in the survey confirmed that health care is a significant source of stress in their lives.

Poor Health is Stressful

Health care can be defined in many ways.

  • Worry about a health concern, condition, or treatment.
  • Being without health insurance
  • Having health insurance and being uncertain whether you can continue to pay the monthly premiums.
  • Struggling to pay for prescription medications.
  • Having young children who are continually sick or aging parents who are in poor health.

It seems that there’s plenty to make one anxious or worried about health care.

Worrisome Thoughts and Words Can Link to Catastrophizing

Caregiving and the power of words can contribute to more worry, resulting in mounting health concerns. I’m not telling you not to worry.

The suggestion is to bring as much reality into the worry as possible because it can be easy to catastrophize events. What is catastrophizing – now that’s a word for the topic of caregiving and the power of words.

Catastrophizing is assuming that the worst will happen or it is the act of exaggerating challenges.

So let’s take a simple example.

  • You worry about missing the bus to get to work even though you are at the bus stop 15 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Missing the bus may result in being late for work which then means you might get fired.
  • If you get fired you cannot pay the rent which means you will be evicted from your apartment.
  • Then you worry about being financially able to support your family, and the problems keep growing.

It’s true all of these consequences might happen if you miss the bus. But imagine that you miss the bus and arrive at work late.

You explain the issue and apologize to your boss, who is understanding. It’s unlikely you would be fired because you are always on time for work. Add to this that your job performance is above average.

Chronic Pain Can Raise Stress Levels

Research confirms that people who are more likely to catastrophize may suffer from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, or exhaustion. Caregivers are frequently exhausted. Many suffer from other health-related conditions.

So, when you notice your emotions skyrocketing or your mood deep diving into the dark realms, caregiving and the power of words you say and think can help reduce stressful situations. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, pause and take a few deep breaths. Talk to yourself softly, using positive and reassuring words to calm your mood.

Mental Hijacking

Do you notice that whatever you plan to do becomes hijacked or sidetracked when you become upset or distracted? Hijacking happens to me on occasion.

I keep a strict workout schedule precisely for this reason. My brain needs time away daily to process what’s happening and maintain positivity.

There may be a day when something happens, and my brain says, “oh, it’s okay to skip your workout to solve this problem, or you don’t feel like going to the gym anyway, do you?” I know that the moment my brain goes sideways that it’s time to push myself out the door.

My focus time at the gym while working out is caregiving for myself and the power of words. I retrain my brain to think positive and loving thoughts and move away from whatever frustration I might have felt.

Positive mental hijacking takes effort, while negative mental hijacking happens automatically. Retraining thoughts and the words we say to ourselves doesn’t always come easily.

But most of the time, when I leave the gym, I’m in a better mood and able to refocus my thoughts on whatever I have to do next. You can take a similar action if you schedule some “me time” every day at the same time.

Own Your Words and Your Mind

Don’t let your brain make excuses or reasons not to devote time to your needs. Believe me, the brain will try.

You have to be stronger than the voices inside your head that say it’s okay to do something else. Caregiving and the power of words primarily related to self-care are essential for maintaining well-being.

Let’s look at high-stress situations. Maybe you are a caregiver who has taken an elderly parent to the emergency room. If so,  you may have experienced the difference between a nurse or a doctor who reassured you and helped you feel calm or confident.

There may have been a staff member—maybe the person at the front desk—who might not have been so pleasant and made you feel like you were a burden. In high-stakes situations, like an emergency room visit,  it is easy to pick up on and mimic the emotions of another person who may be upset.

If so, knowing what you do about caregiving and the power of words, you have an opportunity to redirect or calm a chaotic situation. High-stress situations happen in the home.

Redirecting High-Stress Caregiving Interactions

Let’s say you care for an aging parent who suddenly has an emotional outburst. Your normal reaction may be one of exasperation or frustration.

So instead, you pause for a moment to compose yourself and consider caregiving and the power of words. Then, rather than responding with frustration or agitation, you react calmly and, in a soft voice, say, “I’m sorry you are so upset. Tell me what’s going on so I can help.”

By responding with powerful words that show you care, you interrupt the emotional pattern of the situation. As a result, the conversation changes to a heartfelt discussion instead of a potential yelling match or a battle of wills.

No Rest for Weary Caregivers

 As caregivers, parents, students, husbands, or wives, one may constantly be doing so one never takes a break to consider caregiving and the power of words. Constant motion is contradictory to the idea of setting intentions or being intentional. Exhaustion is common among caregivers.

How many of you say thanks or a prayer before a meal or pray before you go to bed? If you don’t, it’s okay—there’s no judgment here.

Saying thanks or reciting a prayer slows you down for a moment, allowing the mind to put things into perspective. Likewise, expressing gratitude for something is a way to remain positive.

What if when you put the key into your car’s ignition, and your car starts, and you say thank you for starting today and helping me get to work?

So whether you pray, say thank you, or recite a poem, this time is a momentary pause to consider caregiving and the power of words. Instead of immediately reacting, say thank you, recite a short statement or a poem, or a prayer to refocus your thoughts before you speak.

The Haiku Pause

Let’s stretch the mind again. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry in three lines intended to be read in one breath that can be a great interrupter because it’s quick.

A Haiku poem focuses on an instant in time.

The words often focus on something in nature and help the listener contrast two items with a twist at the end.

Here are two examples:

  • Softly falls the light of autumn’s mellowing sun across fields and hills by Julie Edmonds.
  • Old sailors still dream, mermaid beauty unseen, seashells lay on the shore by Donna Jones.

The possibility of using Haiku can give you something to consider for caregiving and the power of words to change an image in your mind or the thoughts in your head.

Let’s shift to intentions. Intentions are something that you do for yourself. However, others can easily interpret intentions if they go unexplained.

What Are Intentions?

Examples of intentions include:

  • Being kind to myself and others
  • Giving up control of the way I might want to do something,
  • Being open to new experiences
  • Accepting other people for the way they are without wanting to change them
  • Possessing an attitude of gratitude
  • Taking care of the body
  • Being positive in all interactions

So intentions, while they might seem simple, can require thought, considering the right words, and being present in actions. A basic intention of being positive in all interactions can take a concerted effort if one leans toward the negative or the critical.

What I will say is that when you become intentional, the words you speak will be more thoughtful, and others will notice a shift in your attitude and vibration. People want to interact with, work with, and be with people they like and who make them happy.

Caregiving and the power of words don’t mean that you are trying to be someone you’re not. Instead, you are trying to be more kind, patient, and understanding, and all the things you want others to give back to you.

I once heard someone say, “well, how do I receive respect?” The answer is that you have to give respect to receive respect.

Caregiving Relationships Are Give and Take

Caregiving relationships are reciprocal. However, eventually, the person who needs care can give less and more stress is placed on the caregiver to do more and to be more.

This is why making time for yourself every day is critical. Otherwise, your words may not mirror your intentions, and you may feel that you fail on all ends. Nothing you do is ever enough or never right.

Caregivers wonder if they can keep going because they are so exhausted. It isn’t easy.

Being present and thinking about words and intentions can also be challenging. This slowing down – like saying a haiku poem

“Gentle breezes blow, coloured hues of red and gold, cloak the waiting earth,” is by Mary Serene. Saying this Haikuone or more times can give you the pause needed to regain composure.

When you think of caregiving and words, intentions, Haiku poems, and the vibration of music—the combination of these things are like playing a game with your mind and your mood.

There is a piano song called Finding Hope by Michael Logozar that brings beautiful visions into my mind whenever I hear it. It’s almost as if the piano notes are angels singing, telling me everything will be all right when I’m in one of those moods where I need a little hope, joy, and reassurance.

The Importance of Pausing

As caregivers, intentionally creating these little moments during the day and in our lives is important. Many of you say I don’t have time to think, sleep or take a break.

I can’t possibly slow down, think about my words, or be intentional. However, wisdom confirms that if you don’t make time to take care of yourself, an event like a health problem will arise that gives you no choice but to care for yourself.

So before that happens, begin owning your choices and thinking about caregiving and the power of words. No one has to give you permission to set boundaries about what you can or cannot do.

Hopefully, the things you want to do are positive, like eliminating fears that you’re not good enough or that life will always be this difficult.family caregiver support programs

Becoming a caregiver is probably one of the most challenging things we choose to do or feel we have no choice to do in life. Caregiving can make one feel hopeless and powerless when everything and everyone in life seems to be a greater priority.

In these stress-filled situations being kind to yourself by considering caregiving and the power of words can help you recognize everything that you do for others. Be proud of your actions.

Trade-Offs Eventually End

Caregiver stress takes a toll on health and family. Dealing with the care of elderly parents or a spouse can mean little time for maintaining friendships or socializing.

And as a result, caregivers grow distant from friends because there is no time for anything else. People who are not in caregiving roles also trade parts of their lives. Caregivers make choices others may not have to make. For example, those who pursue careers may not marry or have families.

Others who have children may give up their careers. So it seems that there are always tradeoffs that come in life, and then when that thing that we traded life for ends—like children moving out of the home, or retiring, or a loved one passing away happens, it’s as if we have to recreate our lives.

We have to find things and people that inspire us and start living again. You’re not alone in this. It happens to everyone.

Finding That Lost Piece of You

The question is how to maintain some small parts of life, friendships, and the things you love and maintain a positive attitude through caring for others.

Many caregivers say I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel like I’ve lost myself.

It’s time to rediscover that part of you by focusing on caregiving and words to shift relationships into positive mode. To create intentions that bring more light and love into your life.

By prioritizing your life, words, thoughts, and intentions, you may bring new people and positive events into your life. Pause throughout the day and give thanks, say a prayer, recite a poem, and listen to music, even if only for a minute or two.

These small breaks and pauses may be what you need to start thinking differently about whatever situation you find yourself in. Thoughts are things.

Words are vibrations that can shift our mindset and our relationships with others. Don’t give up on finding ways to improve your caregiving situation, whether you feel run down or can’t keep being the caregiver.

There is always hope, but not without changing actions, how we work through situations, or how we interact with others. Change comes from within.

There’s no one or no one thing that will sweep down from the heavens to wave a magic wand to change our lives. There is joy and sadness every day.

I hope that by considering some of the things we discussed during this program – caregiving and the power of words, setting intentions, and creating pauses in your day, you begin to live a fulfilled and joyful life.

Looking For Help Caring for Elderly Parents? Find the Information, Including Step-by-Step Processes, in Pamela’s Online Program.

©2022 Pamela D. Wilson All Rights Reserved

About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

   Check Out Podcast Replays of The Caring Generation® Radio Program for Caregivers and Aging Adults HERE

Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA is an international caregiver subject matter expert, advocate, and speaker. More than 20 years of experience as a direct service provider in the roles of a court-appointed guardian, power of attorney, and care manager provides one-of-a-kind support for family caregivers and aging adults interested in taking steps to be proactive about health, well-being, and caregiving. Pamela may be reached at +1 303-810-1816 or through her website.

 

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