Month: October 2021

Wednesday Wonderings … When we are faced with ‘No” good choices, how do we decide?

October 27, 2021

Right, Wrong, Good, Bad – those are the words we use to describe our decision-making choices. What makes a decision right or wrong? What makes a decision good or bad? Yeah, I know, it’s like porn. You can’t describe it, but you’ll know it when you see it.

A decision that is right for you may be wrong for me. A decision that is good for me may be bad for you. Hang on, here we go… Your perceptions and life experiences are your guides. Your gut feelings are tied in to past experiences and results. Sure, we all like to think that our decisions are made with great care and a lot of thought. Wait, I need to throw my bullshit flag.

Hear me out before you take your toys and go home. All of us have unknown biases. All of us have tunnel vision on certain issues. All of us hate the idea of even making a “wrong” decision. It is one thing to make a wrong decision for ourselves, but let that decision affect other people that we love and that piles on the stress, pressure and worry. I never want to hurt the ones that I love. I always want to make the best decisions possible. I especially want to make the right decision when it affects those that I love.

How can we make the best decision possible when we don’t recognize our biases? How can we make a good decision when we really don’t know what good resources are? To me a good resource is a trusted resource. A trusted resource often educates. A trusted resource is NOT an advertisement. Use the CRAAP test. See the bottom of the article for a worksheet.

Facts are Facts. You don’t have to like it. Truth on the other hand takes in to consideration you own views, beliefs and ideas about a subject and sometimes you throw facts in the mix. Unknow biases. Question why you believe what you believe. Be skeptical. Can you accept what you have thought or believed most of your life could be wrong? How did that last word “wrong” make you feel? We do not want to be “wrong” ever! Change the word “wrong” to incorrect and see how that makes you feel. Can you accept that your friends and families’ beliefs and opinions may be incorrect? I am able to accept that I am incorrect. I am not inclined to believe that I am wrong. I get defensive if I am “wrong.” I can’t stand to be wrong! That is why I will do my research from trusted sources. I may not like what I have learned, but at least I know the facts and I can then figure out what will work best for me and my loved ones. Find three trusted resources and read the information using the CRAAP test information.

Be open to learning something new. Be curious. Let yourself ponder and think. We try to control the outcomes with our decision-making. Have you heard the phrase, “trust the process?” Why do people tell us that? Because we cannot control the outcome. We can only do our best. Sometimes, it is making a decision with the information that we have, right now. We may need to change our decision or update as we learn new information. That is okay. When we know better, we do better.

What happens we are faced with NO good choices? What do we do? How can we decide?

We make the decision that we will regret the least.

Get rid of the “should.”  Every time that you say or even think the word “should.” Stop and change that word to “Want.” What do I want? How do I want things to go? What do I really want down the road? Take time to think. Think through your options. Brainstorm and don’t dismiss anything, right now. You can pare down later. Are there compromises or alternatives?

  1. What are your values, wants and needs?
  2. Talk it through with a good listener. Tell them you are talking and you just want them to listen.
  3. Maybe you need someone else’s perspective (maybe someone who has been in a similar situation).
  4. Test out the decision in your mind. Go all the way through. Remember, you cannot control the outcome. How will this affect me in the short=term, in the long-run?
  5. Doing something always beats doing nothing.
  6.  Listen to your gut. Your intuition is important.
  7. There is not right or wrong decision, only what is best for you and your family.
  8. When all of the choices suck, which one will you regret the least?

Choice overload will cause you to not make a choice. Paralysis by analysis is a real thing. Too much information will keep you on the indecision wheel. Find 3 choices by doing your research with trusted resources. Realize that decision fatigue happens to all of us. Making tough decisions takes a lot of time and a whole lot of energy. You will second guess yourself. Go with what you know and not how you feel once you have made your decision. Accept that there will probably be trade-offs. Know what your values are. What is important to you.

Very few decisions can’t be changed or updated. Try to find a “both/ and” decision rather than an “either/or” decision.

Sometimes you will have to make a decision that you will regret the least. Be kind to yourself.

Pat

The CRAAP Test Worksheet

Use the following list to help you evaluate sources. Answer the questions as appropriate, and then rank each of the 5 parts from 1 to 10 (1 = unreliable, 10 = excellent). Add up the scores to give you an idea of whether you should you use the resource (and whether your teacher would want you to!).

Currency: the timeliness of the information………………………………………………………………………..

• When was the information published or posted?

• Has the information been revised or updated?

• Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?

• Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs…………………………………………….

• Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

• Who is the intended audience?

• Is the information at an appropriate level?

• Have you looked at a variety of sources before choosing this one?

• Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information……………………………………………………………………………

• Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?

• Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?

• What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?

• What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?

• Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?

• Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content…………………………………………

• Where does the information come from?

• Is the information supported by evidence?

• Has the information been reviewed or refereed?

• Can you verify any of the information in another source?

• Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?

• Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists……………………………………………………………

• What is the purpose of the information?

• Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?

• Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?

• Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

• Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Total:

45 – 50 Excellent | 40 – 44 Good

35 – 39 Average | 30 – 34 Borderline Acceptable

Below 30 – Unacceptable

Created by Juniata College

Wednesday Wonderings … How to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break?

October 20, 2021

It started out as a few hours a week. An afternoon here. An evening there. A Saturday or two. You handled whatever arose. No big deal. You love them and it was manageable. It happened so slowly that you did not even realize that you became a caregiver. You were helping out. Funny how when we are in the big middle of stuff that we do not realize how long it has been nor do we have any idea how we got “here.”

“Here.” Hmmm, where is your “here?” Think about it for a few minutes. How long ago did it start? What did your life look like then? What does your life look like now? How many different things are you juggling? Partner, spouse, kids, work, career, friends, community activities, church functions, or even your own health care needs? How many things and people have you neglected?

Are you a caregiver that feels you must always be on call? Are you a person that feels you must always be reachable or be close, just-in-case? It isn’t just caregivers that feel that way. I have found that if you are or feel you are responsible for someone or something you think that you “need” to be available and ready at all times. You must be Superwoman. You must be Superman.

When you feel that way and act that way you have no freedom. You have no down time. You have no “me time.” You probably don’t have much family time either. It sucks. You want to rest, relax and recharge. You want to turn off your brain and just chill. You don’t want to be tied to your cellphone. You want to go out to eat with your family. You want to enjoy sporting events, plays and church. You want to enjoy those around you. But, how can you do all of that? How can you do that and be “on call?”

You can handle most anything, for a while. It is the continued drain on your time and energy that will wear you out. Have you figured out how to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break, yet?

You cannot rest, relax and recharge without taking a break. A mental break and a physical break are required. You will feel guilty. Accept that you will feel guilty. Don’t ask for permission from the person you are caring for. Take a break BEFORE you are so worn out that it takes you a week to recover. Even four to six hours once or twice a week is better than nothing. It would be best if you could take one or two days off every week.

Can other family members help? They probably will if you tell them a day and time. Do not leave it up to them to decide a day and time because they won’t. It is not mean or ugly to have a day or time picked out. If they truly cannot, go on to the next person. Keep going. For some, it may be easier to have a set time or day every week. You may have to hire outside help. I get it, it isn’t cheap. What is your physical and mental health worth? You can always check-in on the care giver/companion.

If your loved one has a dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease you may have to be subtle with adding in-home help. You may need to use other words and phrases. Do not use “Sitter.” You may not be able to use the word “caregiver.” You may have to use “your helper around the house, or help with meal prep, even help with light housekeeping.”

Other emotions may pop up too, so don’t be surprised when shame or fear show up. If you are feeling resentment, anger or burnout you NEED a break NOW. When your “give a damn doesn’t give a damn anymore,” it is past time for time away. Caregiver fatigue and burnout are very real and they can lead to your own set of illnesses.  I want you to take care of yourself. Breaks and time away help you to be an even better caregiver.

However, if you notice these signs of caregiver burnout, it’s time to take your health seriously and give yourself a well-deserved break:

  • Feeling “trapped” or hopeless
  • Losing patience or compassion for your loved one
  • Overreacting to small accidents
  • Resenting or neglecting your loved one
  • Withdrawing from your personal hobbies and friendships
  • Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • Overeating, not eating enough, or eating a lot of high-sugar foods
  • Having health problems
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Having thoughts of suicide
  • You are impatient with your care receiver
  • You are making mistakes (medications, appointments, etc.)
  • You feel lonely
  • You have snapped at your care receiver
  • You feel exhausted most of the time
  • You are bored
  • You are experiencing memory problems
  • You are experiencing signs and symptoms of depression
  • Your own relationships are declining

Design a plan that works for you and your family. What are the needs and who can fulfill them? Take some time to think.

What do you need? Be specific. Three hours off twice a week? 24 hours completely away? A regular day or night off to be with your spouse? A night off to be with your friends?

What does your loved one need? Meals prepared? Laundry? Shopping? Personal care? Haircut? Daily walks? Help with medications? Companionship? Light housekeeping? Taken to doctor appointments? Yardwork?

Who can pitch-in? Tell everyone what is needed. Have a sign-up sheet. Have a day in mind, but try to be flexible, Maye they can’t help on Wednesday, but they can help on Thursday.

Sometimes, you may have to have a family meeting or as I like to call them. “A come to Jesus meeting.”  If you find some family members unwilling or unable to help…help them write a check for respite care or handle some of your things at your house that needs to be taken care of while you are away from your own home.

Look online for Respite care in your area.

Look at in-home care, non-medical for companion care.

Check out your local area’s Office on Aging.

Search for Adult daycare facilities in your area.

What are the benefits for taking a break from caregiving?

It can prevent you from having an emotional breakdown.

It provides you time to take care of your own personal business.

Having other people ready to take over should you become ill or have to be away.

It may provide you with a different perspective.

You are better able to make necessary decisions when you are clearer headed.

You will decrease your stress, which will improve your own health.

You get to re-engage with your own spouse, partner, children or friends.

You will be a better caregiver and manager for your loved one.

You catch up on rest.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… How to decide what to do, what to delegate and what to mark off the list.

October 13, 2021

What do you do when you have multiple “To do” lists or your “To do” list has a “to do list?’ Do you get laser focused and start at the top? Do you put it away? Do you do the most important thing first or do you do the one that takes the least amount of time first?

What criteria do you use to make decisions at work? What about, at home with your family? What about with your friends? Hang on… your head may begin to hurt in a little while. What criteria or values do we use to make decisions? What about our intuition and gut instinct?

The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day or so we are led to believe. I don’t think there have been any studies on that but the point is…we make a lot of decisions every day and we get tired. I did find one study that was documented by Cornell University that we make about 226 decisions every day about food. The biggest decision about food is where to go eat. Talk about back and forth.

At first I was just going to help pare down the number of decisions made per day, but, no, it always gets more complicated. I did find some information to make it easier on you to make decisions. Think about what is going on inside your mind when you are thinking about a decision that needs to be made. What are all the parameters or guidelines must you deal with? How do you decide what is the most important decision to make, right now? Hell, how many decisions do you have to consciously make on this one problem?

Habits are good for us. They help us to save brain function energy. How many things do you do on automatic? What have you put into your morning routine? You no longer have to think about it, you just do it. It does not use your brain energy. By the way, you only have so much focused brain energy per day. I believe it is about 3 hours. Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle? You had to listen to instructions, process them in your mind, think about each and every step, in order, to pedal and keep your balance. After crashing a few times, you learned to keep peddling and turn before you went off the side of the road and down the bank. You kept practicing and you kept getting better and better. Soon, you could jump on that bike and ride for hours. You got to the point that you just knew what to do and how to do it. You no longer had to concentrate, think, remember and do the steps in order.

Driving to work. It took a while, but you learned the route. Uh oh, the road you usually use is blocked off. Now what are you going to do? Some of you are going to cuss. Some of you are going to use the alternate route that you already know, because, you know that you need to know 3 different ways to get somewhere. Others are going to have to use their phones or other travel route providers. How tight does your jaw get when you don’t know where you are and you are not sure that you can find your building going the back roads. How much time and brain energy does that one little mess up cause you? Probably about 20 minutes plus a cortisol dump that you will have to contend with and calm down from in order to actually focus at work. That is probably another 30 to 40 minutes. You cannot think rationally right after a cortisol dump, it is physiologically impossible. Now you are down to 2 hours of focused energy for the day. Hmm.

It is always the “new things” that pop up that cause the problems. The new things to learn that take time, effort and a lot of energy. We look for ways to decrease our energy expenditure and having habits or routines help us out with that. Issues to decide upon that we have never had to think about before. Those issues take time, effort and energy. Don’t forget about everything else that is running round in your mind that you “need” to deal with too. If you can compartmentalize, maybe you can give yourself enough of a break that you can deal with one situation at a time. There again, how do you decide what to tackle first out of that list of 10 things to be done?

What is important to you? What are your core values? The principles that you use to live your life. Your own judgement of what is important in your own life. Do you have a standard of behavior that you expect out of yourself? What would your life look like and how much easier would your decision making be if you truly searched for your personal core values and used them in your decision making? You could make better decisions and save brain energy. Win-win!

How do you find what your core values are? It is a process and you will be glad that you did the process. Once you know your 10 core values you will always be able to make easier decisions that line up with your belief system. When you make decisions that line up with your belief system you feel more at ease, more comfortable and even relaxed.

How to Identify Your Values – Ask yourself the following questions

  1. When were the times that you were the happiest?
  2. What makes me happy?

What is the common theme or thread behind the last three positive decisions you made? What gives you true happiness in your life? What were you doing?

  • What makes me feel proud?

Why were you proud? An achievement, met a goal, exceeded expectations

  • What have I done that makes me feel happy and satisfied with the outcome?

A personal success usually relates to making a good decision. Maybe your decision provided great results for someone else.

  • When was the last time that I felt fulfilled or complete?

When you satisfy your values, a sense of fulfillment or a feeling of completeness usually follows.

  • From the list below or from your own list, choose your top 10 values, in no particular order. Then you are going place them in order of importance and maybe even get rid of a few. Sometimes we do have situational ethics, (an “it depends” kind of issue) and there are some things that are deal breakers. You may find you have two or three absolutes or maybe five or six. If you have trouble putting the values in order of importance, look at them two at a time and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these values, which one would I choose?”

https://thehappinessplanner.com/pages/list-of-core-values

You may find other lists online as well.

It may be hard to narrow down your list, but do so for your own good mental health. Some of the values listed can be placed under an umbrella term also on the list.

What happens if you have conflicting values? Which value is more important to you at this time? What might things look like if you could honor both values?

Your values are formed by your thoughts. You have been thinking, adjusting and growing in your thoughts since you were born. A word of caution, be sure they are your own thoughts and values and not what you have been programmed. We all have unknown biases. We have all grown up accepting things and now that we can think for ourselves, we are supposed to question what we were told or taught and we are supposed to figure out “stuff.”

Are the decisions that you make in line with your own values? When a choice makes you feel uneasy, be still and think about why you are feeling that way. What is you gut telling you? Intuition (gut knowing) is as important as facts and good data information. That is an article for another day.

You want to know what is important to you before a crisis hits. Have you gone against you values or principles before? How did that work out? How did you feel? Prioritize your top 3 most important values.

  • Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
  • Are you proud of the top 3 values you have chosen?
  • Do these values represent things you would support even if it puts you in the minority?

Making a decision may not be easy, but it will be easier.

I like the Eisenhower Matrix (box) to help folks to figure out what is urgent and important. Urgent and unimportant. Not urgent but important. Not urgent and not important. Using this box can make you life easier. I would suggest that you use the box a few times to get used to it and then you will probably be able to do it in your head.

Other tips:

Work from a “To do” list with only 3 things on it. That is all you will have time to focus on anyway.

Consider decision making criteria

  • Your purpose
  • Your strengths
  • Your skills
  • Your values
  • Your effort and energy required
  • Your cost
  • Your acceptable risk levels

If you are having a rough time or do not feel well, it is fine to wait on an important decision. My hope for you is that you prepare a plan or make most decisions ahead of a crisis. If you need some help with this, let’s talk and see if I may be of service to you or your loved one.

Pat

865-684-8771

Wednesday wonderings … Why does a fear of failure stop us from trying?

October 6, 2021

Do you believe that failure is an event or one that has failed?

Do you believe that you are a failure? You are not! You may have failed at something and felt the shame and embarrassment of that event, but you are not a failure. That is really the crux of it all isn’t it… shame and embarrassment.

I wasn’t there for my mom, when she needed me, and she fell, laying on the floor for three hours until she was found and helped by my uncle. The phrase “when she needed me” goes straight to the heart and the mind starts racing with all these thoughts. The “I shoulda.” “It would not have happened,” “I coulda.”

After this incident with my mom, I beat myself up for a long time (years, actually). The reality is that I was not supposed to be there that day. But in my mind, if she needed me for anything then I was supposed to be there. It did not have to be logical; this was my mama and I love her dearly and will do anything and everything that I can to help her.

What comes to mind for you when you think about a fear of failure? Now, go back and think about it logically and realistically. Was it an accident? Was it something that you did or did not do? Don’t even go to the “I should have predicted” place. Do you realize that it was an event and not you?

Go back and replay it in your mind and if you can make changes for the future, then go ahead and make changes.

Have you wondered what causes fear of failure? It is usually your own thoughts and feelings.

  • You worry about what other people will think of you
  • You worry that some people may not like you anymore
  • You worry that you are not smart enough or capable enough
  • You worry that you will never reach your goals
  • You worry about disappointing people whose opinion matter to you
  • You procrastinate
  • You are reluctant to try new things
  • Your perfectionistic tendencies arise
  • You will be embarrassed
  • You will be humiliated
  • You feel shame

All of these things come up when we have a fear of failure. We never ever want to feel shame, embarrassment or humiliation. We are our own worst critics. We catastrophize.

Failing means we are trying to do better. To get better. To be better. Yes, we will mess up sometimes, but we are moving forward and trying again. We learn what did work and what did not work. Failure is a chance to learn.

  • We learn that baseball players that bat 0.300 are stars. That means that seven out of ten times they strike out.  
  • Albert Einstein did not start reading until he was seven.
  • Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected 27 times.
  • Vincent Van Goh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • Katy Perry’s first album sold 200 copies.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job for being unfit for television.
  • Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 Olympic figure skating team.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was, “too stupid to learn anything.”
  • Steve Jobs was fired from his own company.

All of these people, and many more, kept trying. They kept learning. They kept moving forward.

“Fear of failure is the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reaction to the negative consequences you anticipate for failing to achieve a goal. It is the intense worry, the negative thinking and the reluctance to take action you experience when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal.”   Theo Tsaousides, PhD.

There are things you can do if you have a fear of failure.

  1. Acknowledge that fear of failure makes you feel fear and shame. Explore those feelings, if it is safe to do so. What are those feelings trying to tell you? Remember, all feelings are trying to keep us safe. Is it your 5-year-old self that is trying to be in charge?
  2. Anxiety is not all bad. We need some anxiety to get us excited, or to move forward and to be aware of danger.
  3. Prepare, practice, learn new things
  4. Identify what you can control and focus on that
  5. Learn how to relax, take a break and recharge
  6. Go through the possible outcomes…all the way through
  7. Learn to think more positively. We are hard wired to go to negative consequences.
  8. Worst-case-scenario – it may really be a disaster and it may be a reason to fear failure…just know that this is a rare occurrence.
  9. What are two small goals that you can set and do, right now?
  10. Have a contingency plan, in case Plan A, B, or even C does not work out.

What negative self-talk do we say to ourselves when we mess up?

  • I have let my loved one down.
  • I have failed and now I am stuck.
  • I have failed and so I must not have what it takes to succeed.
  • I can’t learn new ways or new things.
  • I have royally screwed up and now everyone knows about it. I am so embarrassed.

Stop it! All you have to acknowledge is that you messed up and what you will do to fix it…if it can be fixed. Do better next time.

Maybe the shame and embarrassment is causing the fear of failure. We like to learn and try new things. We do love our spouse and families. Remember when your kids began to learn how to play sports? Take T-ball, for example. They are 5 years old. They have the uniform, the glove, the cleats, the hat and yet, they still cannot run to first base without being told where to run. They are in the outfield and they are looking up at the plane flying by or the train that is passing through. Don’t forget about the butterfly that just lit on the grass and now the whole outfield is over there squatting down and watching it. Fast forward 4 years and now they are 9 years old and in Little League. It is all serious now. The hits, the strikeouts, the runs, the wins and the losses.

What happened during those 4 years? They got older, they grew and they practiced. They learned. They are still learning. They are perfecting their swing and their ability to see the ball as it is pitched. They are learning to get that glove on the ground and squeeze that ball in the glove. They are getting better at knowing where to throw the ball. By the time they are 12 years old, they have the basics mastered and now those functions are muscle memory. They have to put in the time, they have to be coachable, they have to be willing to learn new ways and new things.

The same thing happens to us as adults. We learn, we grow, we mess up and we learn some more. I have had folks that were very good at their jobs try to be a care giver. They have even said, “I can manage my company” or “I can do this and that.” But, I cannot understand why I cannot manage my mom’s needs. I smile and nod. It just so happens that this medical stuff is not your area of expertise. The other things at your job you can do in your sleep, but not this. There is a huge learning curve. That is why I do what I do, to help families like yours.

I know what it feels like to have your pride hurt. I know what it feels like when your ego gets bruised and beat up. I know what it feels like to feel shame and embarrassment. It sucks! It is hard to learn some lessons. It is hard to realize that you are causing your own suffering by believing the untrue negative self-talk. It is hard to move forward when you keep beating yourself up. It is in the past and all we can do is to move forward and be better than we were yesterday.

I found this paragraph on shame and want to share it with you.

“Shame is a psychologically toxic emotion because instead of feeling bad about our actions (guilt) or our efforts (regret), shame makes us feel bad who we are. Shame gets to the core of our egos, our identities, our self-esteem, and our feelings of emotional well-being. The damaging nature of shame makes it urgent for those who have a fear of failure to avoid the psychological threats associated with failing by finding unconscious ways to mitigate the implications of a potential failure—for example, by buying unnecessary new clothes for a job interview instead of reading up on the company—which allows them to use the excuse, “I just didn’t have time to fully prepare.” “Guy Winch PhD

You will not fail, you cannot fail. It is too important to you. Keep adjusting. Keep trying. Seek help when you need help. Are you smart enough to know when you don’t know?

Things that make you go, hmmm.

Pat