The Enemies of Patience

The Enemies of Patience

It should have been easier. I was at the supermarket. I was in the ten items or less express lane. I was in a hurry. I had two items. But then… It seems like there is always a “but.” The guy in front of me had sixteen items. I counted! Sixteen items. This included counting the bunch of bananas as one item, not seven. He wasn’t even rebuked by the clerk at the register. Then, the guy takes out his checkbook. Isn’t this the 21st Century? Had he not heard of debit cards? By the time it was my turn to check out, my mood matched the now squashed hotdog buns I was holding. I wish I was a more patient person.

We all have things that trigger our impatience. Maybe for you it’s traffic, or kids, or being late, or parents, or your spouse. But, what is it that actually fuels impatience in our lives? I think there are three big enemies of patience.

1. Overload. We try to cram too much activity into our schedules and this results in a lifestyle that has no margin. It leaves no breathing room. So when we find ourselves running behind, it breeds impatience. When you live a life with no margin, any little mismanagement or unforeseen circumstance can result in losing your patience.

2. Unrealistic Expectations. Many of us place high expectations on those closest to us. Typically these people are our spouse, our kids, and our closest friends. Then, when they don’t live up to our expectations, we grow impatient. But, the truth is that people cannot possibly live up to every expectation (many of which are unspoken) that we place on them. People aren’t perfect and sooner or later, they won’t live up to our expectations.

3. Pride. Impatience rears its ugly head whenever pride is challenged. When we selfishly think we deserve better treatment than we receive, our egos puff up and our impatience blows out.

I wish there were some easy answers for resolving these enemies to patience. But these are issues that most people continue to wrestle with throughout their lives. I know that I do.

The bottom line is that we need to continually pursue peace in our lives, where we say, “Not my will God but Yours.” When we do this, we begin to see new options for how we can respond. We see that we don’t have to walk hand-in-hand with the enemies of patience. When someone smacks our face, we can turn and give her the other cheek. When someone wants our shirt, we can offer him our coat as well. When someone forces us to walk a mile on his behalf, we can walk a second mile voluntarily.

Each day we face choices where we either embrace the enemies of patience or embrace peace. As we seek peace, patience grows. Our patience changes us, and it changes others as well. Today, choose to allow peace to reign in you and grow the fruit of patience in your life.

GOING DEEPER:

1. Most often, what triggers your impatience? (DJS)

(Texas Medical Center Hospice…Houston, Tx.)

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Let It Go!

Let it Go!

Once there were two men lost at sea. They spent many days on a small boat and rationed their food equally. After weeks had past, the two men started to quarrel and resent each other. They decided to designate the right side of the boat for one man and the left side of the boat for the other. This worked for a while until the two began to fight again incessantly.

Finally, the man on the right side of the boat picked up a hammer and started hacking away at the left side of the boat. “I hope you end up at the bottom of the sea!” he yelled. Even as the water started seeping into both sides of the boat and the boat started to sink, the man kept hammering away, wanting nothing more than to harm his adversary — even if it meant harming himself.

This story perfectly illustrates the foolishness that can result from anger, resentment, and jealousy. These negative emotions are blinding and can lead a person to do irrational and counter-productive things — even to his or her own detriment. The truth is that these emotions are self-defeating. I recently read this quote: “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.” Whenever we feel jealousy or anger toward other people, we sacrifice our well-being and only hurt ourselves.

I am often asked by people how it is possible to stop feeling a certain way. How can I stop feeling envy, hatred, or anger? To this I ask another question: How do you drop a hot potato? The answer, of course, is that you just do — because a hot potato hurts your hands, you quickly let it go. That’s exactly the same way to lose a negative emotion. When you recognize that it hurts you more than anyone else, you will simply let it go.(DJS)

Caregivers’ Final Confessions….Part 3 of 3 !

Caregivers’ Final Confessions…Part 3 of 3

Page 3: 10 Caregiver Confessions: Secrets We Aren’t Proud Of !

Caregiver Confession #8: “I just want to scream, run away, hide somewhere, or change my identity.”

This is likely to happen to even the most patient caregivers. It’s human to feel overwhelmed by the constant neediness of others. It’s time to get some help with your caregiving so you can have a break. However, if you feel like this consistently, you should check with your doctor in case you are depressed or have other health issues of your own.

Caregiver Confession #9: “Maybe if I just take all of Mom’s sleeping pills I won’t have to wake up to this again.”

Get thee to a doctor immediately. Even occasional thoughts like this can mean you are clinically depressed and feel life is hopeless. Please get medical help now.

Caregiver Confession #10: “She is suffering so much. She’s been half dead for months. Why can’t she just let go and die?”

Believe it or not, this is a common thought. You aren’t a bad person. Why would you want to watch day in, day out suffering, where the quality of life, such as it is, is poor. Getting hospice care for the individual can help a great deal. Hospice staff counsels family members and they generally have volunteers who can help you. You need breaks, even if the care receiver could die when you are gone. You can’t sit by their bed side every minute, for months. There are worse things than death, so drop the guilt. You aren’t the only one who has had this thought.

Feel better, now that you know you aren’t alone with your thoughts? I’m sure you can add your own “confessions” to this list. You may even think , “Oh, I’ve thought worse things than this!” If so, share them with caregivers here at hospice. You will quickly see that you aren’t alone.

The main point is that having passing “bad thoughts” is normal. You are tired, stressed and pulled in all directions. People are crabby to you and seem ungrateful. It’s human to have negative thoughts.

However, if you find yourself consistently thinking in this negative manner, it’s time for outside help in the form of respite care for your loved one, breaks for you, or even counseling and/or medication for yourself. You may be depressed. That doesn’t mean you are bad. You are just human. It’s time to accept your humanity and get help. (DJS)

P.S..Thank You for your service and loving commitment!

(Texas Medical Center Hospice)

Caregiver Secrets…Part Two !

Caregiver Secrets: What Caregivers Are Really Thinking…See Part One below.

Part 2: 10 Caregiver Confessions: Secrets We Aren’t Proud

Caregiver Confession #4: “Dad has no clue what I give up to do this. He thinks his care is routine.”

This is a tricky one. As caregivers, we don’t want to make the care receiver feel like he or she is a burden to you. The flip side of that, however, is that sometimes caregivers are so giving and cheerful all the time, that the care receiver completely loses sight of the fact that we give up a lot of our lives to be caregivers.

Also, some care receivers are not cognitively capable of even understanding the concept that the caregiver has other obligations. If you have a constant nagging thought that you are unappreciated, you may be in over your head. Getting some respite care may help. Once the care receiver understands that you need to have a break, he or she may be more appreciative. Either way, if you take a break, you will likely feel more refreshed and able to cope with the situation.

Caregiver Confession #5: “Everybody wants a piece of me – there’s nothing of myself left for me.”

Nearly every person has had this feeling, whether it’s a new mother with a baby demanding to be fed, changed and nurtured while the boss is sending her emails from work, or a caregiver of elders who still has children who are needy, or a mate who feels neglected. Sometimes you just burn out. You need a break…right now!

In most cases, you get through this, but if it’s ongoing, you may need a third party to help you decide what you can give and what others must do. Say you are the primary caregiver for your dad and your mother-in-law. Your spouse is whiny because he/she feels neglected. It may be time to say, “If you help me by picking up some of this extra caregiving, we’ll have more time together.” This won’t always work, but some spouses just don’t “get” the teamwork concept unless they are directly approached. If this doesn’t work, look for some paid help. You need some time to yourself.

Caregiver Confession #6: “I can’t even take a bath without someone needing me.”

This is often a literal problem I hear a lot. If you like to relax by taking a half-hour break in the evening to relax in the tub – maybe with candles and music – but are routinely interrupted even during this sacred time for yourself – you are bound to feel some resentment. Expect to have this time interrupted on occasion, but if you never can take time to yourself, please look for some help. Even a Senior Companion from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), or a friend, may be able to sit with your loved one. If that isn’t possible, it’s time to look for a few hours of in-home help. Everyone needs some peace – even a caregiver. This goes for men caregivers as well. We all need “time off.” Take it.

Caregiver Confession #7: “Nothing I do pleases them – they are never happy.”

See number two above. This behavior is often not about you. It’s about them and their unhappiness over all of their losses. Do your best to detach from the criticism and get breaks when you can. Not taking criticism seriously is the best way to avoid resentment. Trying to understand why they are so critical can help (I’m not talking about historic family abuse here – just crabby, complaining behavior). (DJS)

Part Three to follow..

(Texas Medical Center Hospice)

10 Caregivers Confessions: Secrets We Aren’t Proud Of !

10 Caregiver Confessions: Secrets We Aren’t Proud Of !

Wouldn’t it be nice to be perfect? Wouldn’t it be nice to be a caregiver who had only loving thoughts every moment of the caregiving day? Maybe there are caregivers like that. If you are one of them, I truly congratulate you. Most of us who have been through years of caregiving will not fall into that category. I don’t. How about you? Here’s a sampling of “caregiver confessions” that I’ve heard. You’ll likely feel better just reading them.

Some Non-Angelic Caregiver Thoughts

I have no life of my own and I’m sick of it.
Mom acts like my boss even when it comes to what I eat.
How much longer can I keep this up? There is no light at the end of this tunnel.
Dad has no clue what I give up to do this. He thinks his care is routine.
Everybody wants a piece of me – there’s nothing of myself left for me.
I can’t even take a bath without someone needing me.
Nothing I do pleases them – they are never happy.
I just want to scream, run away, hide somewhere, or change my identity.
Maybe if I just take all of Mom’s sleeping pills I won’t have to wake up to this again.
She is suffering so much. She’s been half dead for months. Why can’t she just let go and die?
Obviously, some of these thought are more serious than others, however what is most important is the frequency of the thoughts and the duration. Let’s look at them more closely.

Caregiver Confession #1: “I have no life of my own and I’m sick of it.”

Caregivers often run from person to person, job to care receiver, home to nursing home, never really having time to do something that they want to do – just for themselves. If this describes your life, you are over-ready to get outside help. Whether that means some in-home care for respite so you can get away, or a sibling to step in so you don’t have to spend every moment of every day as a caregiver, it’s time to get a grip on your life. If you don’t, you may burn out, get sick yourself, or even die before the care receiver. Who wins then? No one.

Caregiver Confession #2: “Mom acts like my boss even when it comes to what I eat.”

Elders in need of constant care feel their own pain. They generally feel a lack of control over their lives, as bit by bit their abilities slip away. This can make some of them disagreeable and bossy. Generally, the answer to this is to learn to detach with love. If she picks on you for eating junk food, just let it go. You need to set some boundaries around what you will respond to. Some things are irritating but really not that important.

Often, if an elderly parent is bossy and critical. it’s more about her than you. By detaching – not reacting, but just saying something like, “I’m sorry that’s bothering you,” and then moving on with what you are doing, you will not be giving in to her nagging. You’ll be respectful of her sense of loss, but you won’t be a doormat. She will likely get tired of trying to boss you around if you ignore her behavior rather than arguing with her.

Caregiver Confession #3: “How much longer can I keep this up? There is no light at the end of this tunnel.”

If you have these thoughts on occasion, you may be just having a normal, down day. Caregiving can be tough and demanding. Caregivers often become exhausted. However, if you find yourself thinking like this often, you should seek medical help. You may have clinical depression, which can require therapy and/or medication (if a break from constant care isn’t enough). Please see your doctor. (DJS)

Parts 2 and 3 to follow.

(Texas Medical Center Hospice)

Five Pillars of Becoming a Self-Aware Leader

5 Pillars of Becoming a Self-Aware Leader

Americans are obsessed with doing. We like to be in constant motion even if we don’t always have a clear sense of exactly where we are going. As long as we are moving, we feel productive. But this steady movement is often unnecessary and unproductive, and professor Hitendra Wadhwa from Columbia University, is trying to change this mentality.
He founded the Institute for Personal Leadership to modify the way budding young leaders view leadership. His goal is to “invite people to dissolve boundaries” and learn to practice their core values in all circumstances. He says there is a “hunger in our society for self-awareness” and the practice of introspection can greatly benefit America’s emerging young business leaders.

The business world and pop psychology have long tried to create false boundaries between our inner-selves and our business-selves with the belief that trying to separate the two is somehow healthy, explains Wadhwa. But our experiences, values, emotions and beliefs all act to shape how we think and act across all circumstances. He points out that you just can’t separate your inner-self from your business-self and expect to function in a healthy way.

Wadhwa details five pillars of personal leadership that we should all strive to embrace in order to achieve a more holistic and fulfilling life.

Pillar No.1: Purpose. Great leaders have a hunger for defining their purpose, which in many cases evolves significantly over time. They know who they are, what they want, and they are guided by a strong sense of their own values. They aren’t held back by their ego and have have a willingness to do whatever it takes to make an impact even if it means relinquishing power.

Wadhwa encourages aspiring leaders to ask the following question: Do I have a direction and am I being true to myself and my core values? All too often the direction we are pursuing was set for us and not by us. Family, social pressures, and cultural expectations can all act to point us in directions that may not align with our own sense of purpose. Be sure your purpose is yours.

Pillar No.2: Wisdom. When faced with tough decisions, you need to be able to pull yourself into and away from your emotions and thoughts to have clarity. According to Wadhwa, wisdom is about mindset and the ability to “harness your emotions and thoughts to allow yourself to be at your peak performance at all times” regardless of the circumstances.

When it comes to mindset, we have all formed views of the world that are shaped by our limited experiences. The challenge is being aware of how these limitations influence the way we make decisions. Wadhwa believes we should all be willing to test our own assumptions on a regular basis. He advises we ask ourselves the simple question: Does your mindset serve you well?

Pillar No.3: Self-awareness. One of our greatest challenges in the Western world is that we focus so much on our external identity and not enough on or inner-experience. In order to truly harness your purpose and wisdom, you have to be mindful. It’s important to be able to experience tranquility and peace, particularly in times of turbulence.

Making sound decisions requires extracting oneself from both internal and external distractions. Meditation can help with this, as an entrée to the practice, Wadhwa encourages his students to start with focused breathing exercises with an emphasis on deep breathing and breath awareness.

Pillar No.4: Love. Wadhwa’s not talking about romantic love, but that leaders need the desire to win through others and genuinely take joy in their success. The American business world can be so vicious and cutthroat that managers don’t even realize how counterproductive their behaviors really are because they seem normal in our culture.

Successful mangers must think like coaches and take the mindset of winning through others. When it comes to techniques for practicing this form of love, he recommends starting by giving 100% to the present moment. Seek out ways to find success in the success of others, by immersing yourself in the moment, you will be practicing love.

Pillar No.5: Growth. “We aren’t perfect and always need to be sculpting ourselves,” notes Wadhwa. Most great leaders have had monumental failures, but they persevered. This ability to rebound stems from their willingness to learn and adjust. They view failure as opportunity and always seek to better themselves and their circumstances.

Wadhwa advises that you pay attention to your environment and those around you. You are a product of your surroundings, so be sure to surround yourself with positive influences. At the end of the day, you are the author of your own life.
(DJS)

Building Solid Friendships

Friendships are among our most valuable assets. Acquiring quality companions—those who will laugh with us in good times and stand by us during trials—requires shared commitment and an investment of time and energy. Healthy relationships thrive on . . .

Transparency. We must be honest with friends and encourage them to be truthful in return. To preserve a strong bond, we can’t hide hurts or feelings of rejection they may have caused. Transparency that is tied to accountability can also help make each individual a better person. A solid relationship allows each party to gently point out errors in the other’s life and offer loving correction.

Time and talk. Genuine friendship takes time to develop. We must be willing to put aside other obligations and give priority to moments spent together. A generous portion of our time with each other should be spent talking—speaking about our thoughts and desires and also asking questions to prompt our companion to open up. This type of conversation allows a glimpse into the other person’s heart and mind.

Thanks. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Expressing gratitude when friends are helpful will remind them that we’re thankful to have them in our life. Moreover, we affirm our love when we communicate how much we enjoy a certain aspect of their personality or remember an occasion that is special to them.

So let’s be a friend to those life brings our way. Look for the good in others..for no one is all good or all bad. It’s not about perfection, it’s about love. (DJS)