The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Transforming Your Caregiving Journey: Embracing Gratitude and Wins

June 20, 2023 Cathy VandenHeuvel
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Transforming Your Caregiving Journey: Embracing Gratitude and Wins
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

I'm diving into one of the most impactful mindset strategies I've discovered which has led to breakthroughs and transformations in my own caregiving journey. Imagine shifting your focus from feeling overwhelmed to celebrating your wins - even during the toughest times.

In today's episode, I recount my personal experiences, from making detailed plans to adapting to unexpected delays. I discuss how our brains are predisposed to dwell on the negative, and the toll this can take on our mental and physical well-being. But don't worry, I also share how the  "three-wins game" has helped me embrace gratitude and acknowledging  victories.

Ready to build your gratitude muscle? Join me as we explore why cultivating a mindset of celebration is so crucial, especially when caregiving during difficult times. I share how I developed this mindset during the hardest season of my life and provide an assignment to help you start celebrating your wins too. It's time to transform your caregiving journey by embracing the power of gratitude and the Wins Game!

Get my free resource:  17 SHIFTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF CAREGIVER STRESS that will take you to the best version of yourself.

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Cathy:

Well, hello, my friend, and welcome back to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Cathy here doing another podcast episode, but I'm in the solo seat again, or the alone seat again. The last couple of weeks I had some really great interviews And if you haven't had a chance to listen to Rosa or Shay, you definitely want to go back to episode 164 and 165 for some really good insights from them regarding the caregiver space. Well, I can't thank you enough for showing up and listening to another episode. I truly hope you find the content that I deliver to you each and every week helpful, because I want you to know that I put a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure I'm delivering content and the information to you that will be helpful to you. With it being episode 166. You kind of get to the point where it's like you covered all of the major points And so you either have to go back and find more detailed content or look for information that would be insightful, and I thank you for going ahead and listening each and every week.

Cathy:

I make sure that each and every time I step up to this microphone, I say to myself this is going to be the best episode I've ever delivered And this is the best information I've ever delivered. And if I don't ever do that, I know that it's time to go ahead and close the doors. And you know what? I have so many. I have a whiteboard in my office has e very time I think of a think of a topic, I write it down and know this is going to make for a good episode. And then the the piece that I have to work through is where can it fit in and how is it going to be relevant? I wanted wanted to seriously thank you because this week I found out some really exciting statistical information regarding the Caregiver Cup podcast. You are going to be the first to know because I haven't shared it with anybody. I wanted to wait and share it on the next episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. Want to hear what it is? This podcast is one of the top 10% most popular shows out of 3.12 million podcasts globally And the ranking came from Listen Score. I am so grateful. I am so thankful for you listening and being part of my audience, and I can't say enough. Those reviews that you give, those downloads or those clicks to play, help me show up in those stats. I mean, they're just stats, but it's nice to know that I, hopefully, am making a difference.

Cathy:

So, without further ado though, I wanted to move on to today's episode and talk to you about one of the most powerful mindset pieces I've encountered that have really made a difference in my life. What I'm talking about is I joined Mel Robbins' coaching program back on May 8th, and she shared this powerful mindset game with me, and I have been using it now for a couple of weeks, and you know what? It's truly changed the way I think and see and act, and I want to share it with you because I think it could be a game changer for you in this caregiving space, because not only do we feel stress and anxiety, and we have everything on our plate our mind plays an important role when we're a caregiver. So let me back up a minute here and talk about Mel Robbins a little bit, and if she ever listens to this podcast, i'm going to be blowing away, but if you've ever listened to the Mel Robbins podcast, you're going to hear things that I might go ahead and retry or share with you, and this is one of them. So this, this program that I joined back on May 8th, is a six month coaching program, and the true intent of this program is for you or for anybody that's in this program is to go ahead and work on their own personal growth and development and get breakthroughs and transformations and take you to the next level when it comes to whatever you want to do.

Cathy:

Some people are taking it because they have a health journey. Some people are taking it because they lost a loved one. Some people are taking it because they're starting a business. I'm taking it because I lost both of my parents in the within the last five and a half years. Denis is in remission And I want to grow my business and I retired. So I've gone through tons and tons of change And I want to now let that change teach me something and make me figure out where I want to go and how I want to commit to myself, and I want to figure out this breakthrough. It's kind of really a cloudy space, but I am seeing just so much impact from me personally and how much I've changed in my over the last six years, but inside this program you get to experience these every day.

Cathy:

Mel comes out and she does a video training, and then, after you watch the video, which is anywhere between five minutes and 15 minutes, then you have a workbook with a series of questions and reflections that you need to do. So that takes you about 30 minutes, and then, at the beginning of the program, you had to commit to working on a project for six weeks, and then we'll change after six weeks and we'll go like that for six months And everybody, like I said, is on a different project. Some people are trying to build a relationship with their significant other, or some people are going to open a business, some people are working on working on losing weight, whatever it would be, and I find that so. First of all, i had to go ahead and saying I have to commit to this right, i have to commit to watching your video and doing the workbook, and I have to commit 30 minutes to that, and then you have to commit to your project. She says 15 minutes, but I've committed 30 minutes, and so I had to figure out a time where I would be committed for six months, and once you start committing to something. It becomes routine and it becomes part of who you are. And this is the transformation that you get Some days you're gonna feel like you don't wanna do it. Some days you're excited about it, some days you just wanna quit and that's the whole purpose of it. And so I've decided I am going, i committed to this hour. After I go for a walk and do my morning chores and grab my cup of coffee and I sit down and do the one hour work, no matter what, and what you experience is these powerful little wins, the ripple effect of small, positive, decisive action, and you start.

Cathy:

I never thought this course was going to be. This Mel Robbins course was gonna be so much about your mindset and your motivation and your drive. I thought it was gonna teach me how to be better at the tactical pieces And it's changed. Like I said, it's changed me professionally and personally. But what I wanna share with you today is this mindset, powerful mindset game that Mel Robbins shared in one of her daily lessons, and this is the three wins game. And this three wins game is different and it teaches your brain to focus on the wins that you do each and every day, or make each and every day, not what's not working or the negative side, and let me give you a couple examples that may help. And then, as I go through, i'm gonna talk more about what the win game is. I'm gonna talk about how do you do it and why you wanna do it.

Cathy:

So think about everything you have done and you get done in a day. Let's say that you get up one morning and you know that this is your day to get stuff done right. The night before you made your to-do list out, you don't have any meetings, you don't have anything on your plate, and you can get stuff done, whether it's work, home, whatever it would be. And so, if you're anal like me, you map out like the morning, i'm gonna do this. You map out break times, you map out what you're gonna get done in the afternoon, and you just love to grab your highlighter or your little pen and check them off and get them done right. And so you start your day, you're energized, you're ready to go and you're pushing through.

Cathy:

And then what happens? What could potentially happen, and something throws you off. You get a text, you get a call, you get bad information or, if you're at work, you get somebody that charges into your agenda and wants to meet with you and says it's priority and everything has to stop. And what happens inside of you? You get frustrated, you get mad, you don't feel like you're doing your best, because then at the end of the day you look at your only day to get this stuff done and now you only got a third of it done or you only finished three things off of the 10 things on your list and you're totally frustrated and you're depleted. You're just angry about the fact that somebody I don't know what the word is tailgated, somebody, charged into your agenda. It could be even your loved one. Maybe your loved one was feeling well and all of a sudden you thought, okay, yeah, it's gonna be a really good day and all of a sudden they get sick and that throws everything off.

Cathy:

Another example that's more relatable to caregiving is it was about a year ago and I had to take mom to our doctor's appointment and then we were going to go. It was like a 10 o'clock doctor's appointment. We were gonna go for lunch and then we were going to go for grocery shopping. Last time last year at this time mom wasn't feeling well and I could tell that her lung cancer was progressing and I was so glad we were going to the doctor so that we could go ahead and talk to the doctor about her issues and seeing what they could do to go ahead and make her more comfortable, right?

Cathy:

We get into the doctor's office and what usually happens here's Kathy going into the negative side, and we're not supposed to in this episode. But I'm just gonna be honest and raw with you. You get in there and, okay, you look 15 minutes late, 30 minutes late. The receptionist comes to you and said the doctor had an emergency, but looks like we're gonna be able to get you in in 15 more minutes. I'm like, oh, thank you for coming and telling us. And then we get into the room.

Cathy:

Doctor came in on after that, which wasn't an issue. But when they started looking and she started doing her checks on mom and we started talking, she's like, ah, i think we're gonna have to get a lab, more lab work done, we're gonna have to get a chest X-ray, we're gonna need to get a urinalysis, and so this 10 o'clock meeting now it's noon And we still have to get everything else done and she wants us to stay there until those results are done. By the time we get out of there it's 1.15, right, and I can see my mom's exhausted. And this Kathy, with this tactical, high achiever, very analytical mindset, is going 10 o'clock. We were gonna go lunch at noon, we were gonna go grocery shopping for 1.130 and we would have mom home by three o'clock. Well, in my mind that was logical.

Cathy:

But looking at my mom now, as we were walking out at 1: 1.15, i knew she was exhausted. I knew we had to get food in her, but I knew deep down she couldn't walk around to go grocery shopping. So I said to mom I'm like let's go get some soup and let's go get you a sandwich. She loves to go to this local restaurant we have here called The Right Place, and so we took her for that. And I said to mom I think we better go home, i don't think you're up for grocery shopping. And she's like I agree. And I said to her I said let's see what tomorrow brings or the next day brings, and I could go ahead and get your groceries or I could pick you up.

Cathy:

Deep in my mind, though, i was ticked off in my mind, because when you're working full time, when you're trying to balance, caregiving and my husband was still recovering after a stem cell transplant all that kind of stuff. I didn't have the time. I had to move things around and make the time, but that's the reality of it. So what I'm trying to get at is your brain wants to automatically go to the negative when there were many things that were done that day that we accomplished For example, in the to-do list thing, i got three things done on my to-do list versus looking at the seven things we didn't get done.

Cathy:

Or in my mom's situation, we got her into the doctor. We got a more I'm trying to think of the word a better diagnosis and an understanding of where she was at. We got her meds changed. We got some things like she needed more iron. She was so low on iron. I got a better understanding of what we could go ahead and what she could eat and what she should eat to go ahead and get more protein into her body. We have a good understanding of how her lung cancer was progressing, kind of that sort of thing. I should be focusing on the wins. We got lunch and she ate a really good lunch versus oh darn it all, i gotta still go grocery shopping. And how in the heck am I gonna get that done? That's what your brain wants to say. So today I wanna talk about these, this three-win game that Mel Robbins taught me.

Cathy:

So when you show up and focus on the wins versus the negative, we start programming our brain to start thinking and looking at the wins, being more optimistic. Our brain doesn't like that. Our brain is wired for survival. Our brain is wired to focus in on anything that potentially could harm us. Throw us off all of the negative biases. And so the first step that you have to do is we have to make ourselves aware of this, aware that there's some people that are very optimistic, that can do it all the time. That's far and few. I believe that's less than 10%. The normal person's brain will look at the negative, the negative. A fire truck pulls up in front of a building and they see fire. What is their brain thinking about? Survival, get those people out. Versus I'm so glad the fire truck is there. Probably a bad example, but that's when it came to my mind. And what does that do for us? when we think of the negative side or the survival side, it causes, you and I, emotions, thoughts, physical responses.

Cathy:

Think about what your brain does. If you are waiting for a doctor's appointment and the doctor doesn't show up and you're waiting and waiting and waiting. Stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, in negative situations or when you're constantly focusing on it, it might even cause health issues like high blood pressure, whatever, fatigue, because you're working so hard in your mind and you think of your brain like a muscle. It's working so hard on the negative thoughts it's exhausting you. So think about your brain. How many times have you laid in bed at night and couldn't sleep? Let's talk about that one, because that one comes to my mind. Think you're laying in bed at night.

Cathy:

Think about maybe that mistake you couldn't shake from the day and you can't shake it and you're laying in bed thinking, gosh, darn it all, how could I have made that mistake? I think about something as simple as then. It's been a while, but probably a couple of years ago, where I showed up for my hair appointment the day before and I lay in bed at night, beating myself up, thinking, gosh, i was an idiot for showing up the day before, or I could have. If I only would have called then I would have had that. Now I don't make that mistake anymore. Maybe you said something to someone and you wish you could take it back, or you reacted to something and you wish you could have taken it back, or you made a huge mistake on a report at work because you were fitting it in, or you were staying up late because you were at that two and a half hour doctor's appointment and you thought you did your best, but now there's a huge mistake on it and you lay in bed at night and you only focus in on the negative pieces of it versus I got it done, i understand my mistake and let it go.

Cathy:

What I call this is your brain is hyper-focusing on the things we didn't do, or we said wrong, or an action that we made that we're not proud of, or we didn't do it right. This hyper-focusing what it does, then, is it builds that negative muscle. It builds that side that is always gonna look like that the glass half empty. But good news is, my friend, in order to change your negative thoughts or your negative biases that are naturally part of our brain chemistry and our survival mode, all we need to do is work on this muscle, and the first step to working on this muscle is awareness. So when those thoughts come into your head. You need to stop and think and tell yourself first three wins, and if it's me, i'm saying OK, kathy, that's enough. Let's talk about three things you did right yesterday, three things you're most proud of yesterday what I did, well, what I accomplished.

Cathy:

Before I go into beating myself up in my head Now, when you do that, your brain is open and can see the good. It can see the good things. You know, you think about it and you think about it. There's when I go ahead and do my morning journaling. I've always journaled gratitude. Back in 2006. In 2017, right like within a week after my husband and my dad were starting their chemotherapy treatments, i grabbed a journal. I said you know what? I'm going to go ahead each and every day and write down things that I'm most grateful for or thankful for In this gloom and doom season. I'm going to go ahead and saying I'm grateful for that nurse that's going ahead and taking care of my spouse. I'm grateful that I'm sitting here with my mom and my dad and we're getting through this together, whatever it would be. So I worked on that muscle more and more and I developed this gratitude brain.

Cathy:

It's funny because when I do other podcast interviews. On other podcasts like the Heart of Hospice and Helen. It was the host and she said you know what you really have? a grateful heart and a grateful mind. And I said to her I said I didn't have that always, but I built that muscle so that I could go ahead and work on that through the hardest seasons of my life. Well now Mel Robbins has talked to me about building my confidence and my outlook on my own personal self. So I think that the gratitude grounds me and it allows me to see the gratefulness and thankfulness I have around me. But the winds focuses on me and what gives me control and gives me time to do many celebrations in my brain about myself? These are the ones I should be proud of. I have control over.

Cathy:

It might be something as simple as my three wins today is I got out of bed today, especially when I was grieving the loss of my mom. I got out of bed today. I walked and did some exercise today. Or it could be something as something as calling the dreaded insurance company And you hate that because you know you're going to be put on that elevator music and you're going to have to wait or be transferred or wait for callbacks. But you did it. You celebrate those wins.

Cathy:

And when you do that, now I have developed now that's been two weeks now where I journal about what's in my mind. I just journal randomly and write down what's going on. You know, whatever it would be, it might be about the weather, it might be about my little grandchild, it might be about how I'm feeling that day, but then I go to. I got to work my muscle, i got to work my, my gratitude muscle and I got to work my pride or my wins, my accomplishments muscle. So, whatever that would be, and it's just it's starting to work.

Cathy:

It is, and I think I think about you as a caregiver And I think especially when days are really hard and you feel unappreciated look at all that you're doing. So I have an assignment for you And I want you to. I want you to start journaling your three wins, but before that, i want you to build that muscle And I want you to do answer these two questions And you can just think about loud, you can grab a journal, you can come back to this, this episode, and get these questions again, but I, first of all, i want you to think about I. I ran half marathons. I didn't start out my first day of training and I was able to run 13.1 miles Heck, no. It took me weeks and weeks and weeks of showing up and running and running a little bit more, until my muscles were strong enough where I didn't have to think about the hurt or the pain or the breasts that I took. It started becoming natural, and that's what I want to get at with you. It's going to take you months to go ahead and make this a solid muscle in your brain. So these are the two questions I want you to ask yourself to get your muscle warming up.

Cathy:

What is a win that I've had in the last 24 hours? I want you to think of a win, a win that you're most proud of, something that you did in the last 24 hours. It could have been smiling at somebody, it could have been making dinner. Whatever the win is, i want you to write that win down And, if you have multiple ones, brainstorm this one, build that muscle. And then I also want you to think about today. What win have you had already today? An action, a thought, a something that you've did for yourself or did for others, something that you've done.

Cathy:

When you start building the wins, muscle and your brain is going to lean that way and tell you hey, that's a win And it's going to start recognizing that and building that. It's going to stop magnifying the negativity, stop magnifying and telling you to feel shame and guilt or other emotions you get from not living up to your expectations. It's going to stop that. Or it might say should I say something? you know or not? it's going to start training you. It's going to start saying stop putting these unrealistic expectations on your shoulders. Your brain is going to become the muscle. And then what's going to happen is you're going to start being proud of how you're showing up. You're going to start being proud of how you're learning and how you're developing as a caregiver. Because what's going to happen? my friend, i probably could go to Las Vegas and bet on you And I'm not a betting girl at all because I have no idea how to wager or anything like that But you're going to come out of caregiving a different person. You're either going to come out of caregiving with a negative muscle in your brain or you're going to come out of caregiving with a muscle that you're proud of in your brain, and what I want you to be proud of is that positive muscle that you developed in your brain. You can lose those feelings that disappointed in yourself, disappointment in yourself, and turn them into contributions, accomplishments. Look at how amazing you are doing in this hard season. You are doing amazing things. You are learning as you go. You are developing skills that you never knew you had And I want you to be proud of that. You are providing the most magical. It's hard to explain, but this true relationship with your loved one that you've never had before. You will start being proud of how you are showing up. I know you will be.

Cathy:

Some of the most successful people don't get everything done. I mean, you can think of the most successful people. They have cogillions of things that they need to go ahead and tackle, but they're not going to get everything done. Some of the most powerful people make huge mistakes each and every day. Some of the people that come to my mind are like Steve Jobs or I can't think of Edison with the light bulb or an athlete like Michael Jordan. They're making mistakes, they're missing shots, they're testing and experimenting and it's not going well, but what their superpower is is they have a positive mindset, a muscle built that mistakes are okay. They happen each and every day. I'm learning and I'm becoming better and better and better. Life for us as caregivers is going to challenge us and throw stones at us Oh my gosh, they are. But how you and I keep getting up is through our mindset and our actions. We can't normally change any situation from like. What I'm referring to is we can't change most situations, our loved ones diagnosis, that kind of thing. We can't change that. But we can change our mindset, we can change our actions. We can take control of what we can do.

Cathy:

Now I get the questions often. Let me just kind of sidebar here a little bit. I get the questions often about what if, kathy, my mind is racing at night and I can't sleep. I've tried and tried with these winds and it doesn't want to stop. I've had a couple of these nights and whether this is your negative bias or you're worrying. By the way, my oldest dog, cooper, remember, if you followed me on a podcast, daisy, my dog, that we came back from the stem cell transplant a year and a half ago. She passed away from liver disease. Well, cooper now is little over nine years old and he's got a big, big lump behind his neck and it doesn't feel fatty at all.

Cathy:

Last night I laid in bed and that worry got the best of me. What I do now is I grab a piece of paper, i grab a notebook, i have it by my bed And the answer when your mind is racing and you can't get it to stop, do a brain dump, brainstorm, get it all out. Grab your your phone which at night is a bad thing because of the light So grab a piece of paper or get up and go to another room and write it all down so you can empty your mind and tell your mind I'm going to look at this in the morning. I did that so I could get it off of my chest, get it out of my mind And then, when you come back to it, you can highlight the things that are priority. You can highlight the things that are true. You can cross off the things that you don't need to worry about yet or you shouldn't be worried about, or things that are not a priority or not true. So I think that's the big thing is if you can go ahead and work on that. I never this is a sidebar again I never thought I would ever be talking about the muscles of your brain and working them out and and figuring them out. So I just that's a sidebar, just a kind of a thought.

Cathy:

Another thing you have to get up each morning knowing and trusting you are doing your best. That's something you have to do. What is your morning routine? We'll have to dig into this one a little bit more, into some future episodes, but you have to look in that mirror in the morning and trust things will turn out. Things are going to turn out. There are going to be many or micro wins today, no matter what.

Cathy:

When I was in hospice with both of my parents, trust me, there are mornings that I got up and I'm like, okay, will this be the day? Will this be the day that we have to say goodbye to mom or dad? But I had also looked in the in the mirror that day and be grateful that I had my brother and sister with me, to be grateful that I got to experiences and a life with my parents, and I can now look back at that as a positive thing. So to end, today I want you to claim your wins and you will find out over a couple months that you have this different feeling about yourself. Maybe it's more pride, maybe it's more peace, maybe it's more joy, maybe it's less stress, maybe it's more resistance. I don't know, but you're going to feel that and I would love to hear from you and tell me.

Cathy:

Yes, Cathy, i'm going to pledge to and commit to recording down three wins a day. I'm going to see what it does for my muscle in my brain. I'm going to work my muscle And I think that we're going to find together that, no matter what life throws at us they're, we're going to be grateful and we're going to have wins each and every day, no matter how dark, how dreary, how hard the season is. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. I am super pumped about the wins game and I think it's going to make a huge difference. So thank you for listening to the caregiver podcast and we will talk to you again next week. Bye for now.

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