The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Retraining the Mind: Overcoming Negativity As A Caregiver

July 18, 2023 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 170
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Retraining the Mind: Overcoming Negativity As A Caregiver
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
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Do you ever feel like your mind is overflowing with negative thoughts as a caregiver? Well, mine certainly was this past week. I was buried under the weight of concerns about my appearance, and with Denis’ oncology visit, my anxiety was through the roof. I was stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, so I began to question their utility. Are they really helping us or just adding to our emotional burden?

Through this journey of navigating negativity, I stumbled upon the intriguing concept of Reticular Activating System (RAS), our brain's very own filter for information. It's a little like a lint filter that sometimes gets clogged with all the negativity. I learned how to recognize when my RAS filter is overloaded and how clearing it can help manage my mental health. 

This journey doesn't have to be undertaken alone. Together, we can learn to retrain our RAS and flip our negative thoughts. I discovered that with a few brain games and some practical strategies, I could restore a positive mental and emotional state. I began setting reminders with positive affirmations, getting myself into motion, and finding my caregiver community. This not only helped me to regain control over my thoughts but also improved my overall wellbeing. And guess what? You can do it too. Let's embark on this journey together to understand and reprogram our mind filter.

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Speaker 1:

Well, hello, my friend, and welcome back to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Kathy here. I am so glad you are here again this week and I am hoping that this week's episode, which focuses on negative thoughts and how to go ahead and recognize your negative thoughts, understanding why your negative thoughts are there and figuring out ways to overcome those negative thoughts, will be helpful for you, because if you let these negative thoughts just stew in stew in stew inside of you, it affects who you are, it affects your health and your overall better life that you can have with your loved one, and I want to dig into that today and talk about it. So thank you again for listening and I'm going to do something really fun to start out, because I want to talk about negative thoughts and laundry yes, laundry. So if you thought you were going to get a laundry lesson today, or didn't think you were going to get a laundry lesson today, you're in for a different little bit of a twist on things. But negative thoughts are a lot like doing laundry. Just when you get the laundry washed and dried and folded, you feel really good that you got the laundry done for the day, but you then go into the hamper or you go into the laundry room and there's more. Laundry is like the thing that just keeps giving. It never, ever, goes away right, excuse me, it just keeps piling up and sometimes you're like gosh, I just did it yesterday and look how much wash I have to do again. Well, that's what you feel like when you have negative thoughts. You, when you have negative thoughts, it just keeps piling up. One negative thoughts turns into another thing negative thoughts and it just keeps accumulating and you have to learn how to go ahead and do the negative wash and get rid of it, fold it up and put it away. But it's so hard to do because it keeps coming back. And even just this past week, I had several negative thoughts and I it. Negative thoughts, first of all, are human. We're human, we're going to have negative thoughts in our mind. Well and I'll talk about this in a little bit Our mind helps us form those negative thoughts, whether they be out of safety or security or or security, or just to reinforce and tell us that. Yeah, those are some of the reasons why you're thinking the way you do. Well, I looked in the mirror and I looked in the mirror yesterday morning while I was getting up and it was a Saturday I'm recording this on a Sunday. I go in the mirror on Saturday and I didn't do my hair, I didn't put makeup on and look at myself in the mirror and I'm like, whoa, look at all those wrinkles. It makes me look like I'm so tired and I'm not even tired. But it looks at that and then you start keep looking and looking and looking and you find other things to reinforce why you look like that. Or another one that I had is earlier in the week I was working on the upcoming course called Empowerful Caregiver and I was working on it and I was working on the lessons and the workbooks that I had to create for each lesson that I was doing and like, why can't I do another one? I'm so exhausted and I just got three done that day and my goal was to get three done. But I'm like what if I just pushed through? And I just couldn't? I just kept telling myself I just don't have the energy. And then I started beating myself up going well, a year ago I could have did this, or five years ago I could have did this. Why can't I push through? And I kept looking for reassurance of the negativity or the. Dennis went in for his follow up oncology visit yesterday. We got really good news he's passed another three months of remission, which is wonderful, wonderful news for him after a stem cell transplant. But the whole day he had his appointment, like at three o'clock the whole day. What was my mind thinking? What if oh my gosh are we going to have to go back through chemotherapy? What if the stem cell transplant didn't work? Could he get another stem cell transplant? I just kept looking for the drop, like the fall, of his remission and trying to set myself up and be ready for the bad news versus just focusing on. I'm hoping that it would be better. All are you know. Are you thinking these negative thoughts or do you have similar ones? I bet you do. But what we have to ask ourselves is are thinking these negative thoughts truly helping us? Is it truly helping you when you think negative thoughts, because you deserve to feel and think about yourself in your caregiver situation and when you think of more of the positive side or the realistic side, it helps your overall health and mindset. But I want to be real here a minute, because our caregiver lives you and I. They're pretty tough. They're pretty challenging, and we know that not all sunshine and rainbows behind the scenes. You know how hard it can be. You have to be careful not to let your challenging situations get you stuck, get stuck in your head and all you're doing is filling yourself with the bad stuff. So the question is, and the main question is and if somebody had the $100,000 answer to this, we would all be rich but how the heck do you remove it? How the heck do you get rid of the negative thoughts in your head? And I'm going to talk about that today, and it requires us to really focusing on and making shifts. But, for example, how do you look in the mirror each day and not look at your faults, not look at the wrinkles, the zit on your nose, your messed up hair, but really look in your eyes and be proud of who you are. Be proud with no regrets, no doubt and no disappointment. Be proud that you're doing the best you can believe, believe it or not. It's like doing laundry. Yes, I'm stuck on this laundry thing. Today. Let's talk about laundry day. Do you do a laundry day, by the way, or do you do loads throughout the week? Yeah, that's just a sidebar question. But when it's laundry day, do you sort your clothes? I do. I sort the things that have to be in cold, the things that have to be in warm, the things that have to be in hot. I even sort the things that I have blankets laying on my couch and I have a couch and on certain chairs and on the end of my beds that the dogs lay on, and I wash those separately. Trust me, you don't want to wash those with your bath towels, because once you wash dog fur with bath towels, you can't get it off. There was a time where I did that, and then I went to take a shower with the same bath towels that I thought I went to dry off, and I had dog hair all over. It was just disgusting. And so, to make a long story short, I'll never, ever, make that mistake again. But when you think of negative thoughts, it reminds me of the good days when we could sort out the negative thoughts before caregiving and can recognize when you are in that space, and you could keep going. You could do that. When it comes to doing the laundry, you throw in the first load, right, and you feel good that you started. You started your laundry. But what happens sometimes? There are mornings when you can jump right in and switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer and there are other days when you're trying to multitask and do 10 gazillion things at one time and then all of a sudden you forget that you have a wet load of clothes still in the wash machine that has to be thrown in the dryer. And then you feel behind because you have to keep washing and throwing in things. Those days when you can't keep up with life and the laundry or your negative thoughts are slowing you down, and that's why I keep thinking it's like laundry, when you, when you can't move those negative thoughts from the wash machine to the dryer, you can't you forget about the things that you need to focus in on because the negative thoughts are bringing you down. Well, let's talk about the dryer, the dryer. I open up the dryer right, and it never fails. When I throw in the clothes into the dryer, I have to check the lint screen, the lint screen, and it's never cleaned, or it's never usually clean, and it's usually Kathy's fault because it's like I'll just get it the next time. What do you have to do? You have to go ahead and remove that lint from that, that screen, and it's fuzzy lint, but in my house it's dog fur as well, and you have to go ahead and move your fingers and your hands over it and then it sticks to your hands. You got to get it in the garbage. It's, it's the mess. Well, the filter of the dryer reminds me of the crap we have in our heads that builds up over time. It's that lint, it's that fuzzy residue in the caregiver, in your caregiver life. Um, the fuzzy residue is caregiver pressures, it struggles, it's challenges, but it also can be accumulating from your past as well. All of these fuzzies and all of the lint put all these negative thoughts in your head, like rejection triggers, disappointments, heartbreaks, discrimination, maybe your past trauma, guilt, self-doubt. Well, for, for this stage, let's call it your mental lint, l-i-n-t that clogs your mind and blocks you from being able to find moments of joy and peace, because the lint is always in there, it's always returning. As we throw one negative laundry load into the dryer, it fills it back up In your brain. There is a filter and it's officially called the reticular activation system, reticular activation system, and I, just for for ease, I call it R-A-S, so that that's the filter. I describe it as a live network of neurons that sits like a hair net over your brain. These neurons sit over your brain when your R-A-S and that's kind of funny to say is jammed with thoughts, beliefs, experiences from your past, or you stay stuck in the past. Your R-A-S can get jammed to from overstress, from caregiver challenges or situations. So your past could be your childhood. Your past could be yesterday. Your past could be thinking about you know, your, your loved one, last chemotherapy treatment, for example. That's why you keep repeating the same mistakes, thinking the same negative thoughts and living this repeated chamber in your mind. That's why you keep working to release those negative thoughts each day, like you do when you're cleaning the laundry and cleaning that lint filter to dry your laundry. You can't do a load of laundry without lint in the dryer, right? So the negative thoughts will always be there, but you can clean that lint and throw it out. So that's the key. The key is not let the negative stuff build up in this filter. Learning how to clear the lint out of your system each day so it doesn't stick is what I want to talk about today in the podcast episode, and it just a sidebar. What if you let that lint just build up in your dryer and you never emptied the lint? What happens to the dryer eventually, unfortunately? That's why sometimes fires happen. And that's for you. If you leave that lint build up over time, what happens? It just builds and builds and builds and something's going to have to give where it could be your health, burnout, whatever it would be. Some people call RAS or the reticulate of activation system. Some people call RAS it as your like a security guard or a parent of your mind. Your RAS has a job, a huge job. It decides and filters what information gets into your subconscious or your conscious mind and what info stays. So you can, you only have so much space. Think about your phone. When you have your phone and all of a sudden, you get this message on your phone that you ran out of data. Right, you ran out of data or you're close to your limit, what do you do when you get that message? Well, you look at oh my gosh, my, my gigs on my phone are low. So what do you do? You start cleaning it, you remove photos, maybe you put them in the cloud, you start deleting for me, it's my voicemails. I never delete my voicemails for some reason. But you start deleting your voicemails, you start looking at what you can go ahead and get rid of so that you can have more space on your phone. Well, your RAS is that amazing too. You, first of all, you want to embrace that. You have this RAS. It does an enormous job, but at some point, it signals when your data is getting full. It listens to, when your thoughts and your beliefs and your worries are getting to be too much. Your filter is getting clogged, and in last week's episode of the caregiver podcast, we talked about the color coding. This is where you might be in yellow, you might be sad, and blue you might be ready to to blow up in red. Whatever it is, your body is getting signalized. That's why your RAS needs your help, and when you are overwhelmed, you may need more help than you think you need. And what I want you to do is pay attention to the signals that your body gets and remember that one of the things and one of the tools that you have to look at is your mind filter and that RAS filter. So let's talk about that and that RAS filter. So let's talk more about what RAS does. It's amazing when you start looking at this, ras blocks 99 percent of 99 percent of what's around you from reaching your conscious mind in that deep mind. Because it did? Because, if it didn't, your head would explode if you took in everything around you. But there are four things that always get past your RAS in your conscious mind and they really make sense. These four things are when somebody says your name, you hear the sound of your name being called. Think about it. You're in a crowd and all of a sudden, you hear somebody calling your name and they're really not calling your name Somebody else that has the same name. And you're right away. You're looking around, right, you're on alert. Another one is anything that threatens your safety or the safety of your loved one. You're on edge, you're ready, you're you're, you're dialed in. Another one is signals that your, your, that your partners. Signals from your partner like affection, will override your RAS. Your partner rubs your shoulders, grabs your hand. You get sexually active with your partner, whatever it would be, your RAS system activates there. And then the last one is whatever your RAS thinks is important, it's going to activate. It could be the topic you're focusing on, the challenge that you're working on the task that you're in. It might be triggers or your emotions that you're feeling right now. It's recognizing what's most important and is a priority for you. The last one is really everything, because if you know what's important to you, you can train your RAS to filter your crazy days every day and help you find the right filters and the right techniques to work on it. You can teach your mind to find things you want to see. You can teach your mind to, to, to evaluate things and get things to support you. You can teach your mind things that make you happier and proud. You can teach your mind that you want help with your purpose. You just have to go ahead and use that as a focus and a priority what you want to see, what you want support on what you want, what you want to focus in on being happier and proud, or your purpose, because right now your RAS wants to see the same world you were prior to caregiving. If you haven't worked on your RAS, it's still recognizing your past, which means prior to caregiving, because you haven't changed your opinion of yourself since then. You may not have even allowed your RAS to switch to your caregiving world, your new normal. So let's work on cleaning your filter. When you know how to clean your filter, you will be able to release the negativity, the unnecessary thoughts, and focus in on your loved one and your healthy mindset. You will find hidden surprises that you don't know you're waiting for, and when I share this at the end, I'm going to share with you when the light bulb went on for me and what I do when my negative thoughts start bubbling up. But you are telling your RAS what to see and you have it working for you versus it working with working. What I'm trying to say is you're telling it how to work. Just a forewarning, though if your negative thoughts have always been there in your life and they've always been there, and that's like maybe you had a childhood that was very negative, or you only see the glass half empty it will take some time to reprogram your mind's filter. It's not saying you can't do it. It just may take you a little bit longer, because your RES will have this in its history, and that's what's really funny about it is. We all have past experiences that have caused trauma, that have caused triggers, that have caused memories, and then this podcast episode. I'm focusing more on the negativity because and so I'm going to talk about it's going to remember the bad memories and it's going to go ahead and bubble up the negativity. So, for example, I had, when I was in high school, I won this voice of democracy contest and it was we had to write this speech, this history speech, and then we had to give the speech in front of our class, and mine went really, really good and I actually won my school's voice of democracy contest. I won it out of all of the entries that we had. And so then I went on to the regional competition and I placed third in the regional competition, which qualified me to go to the state competition. And so I was super excited. I went to the state competition and I did the worst speech I've ever ever done. I couldn't. I had stage fright, I couldn't see the paper. I was fumbling, I was focusing on that, and every time I get on stage, my RAS system wants to go ahead and tell me that I'm not going to do good, I'm not going to be able to see the paper. I'm going to go ahead and get hot and feel like I want to pee my pants. It tells me all of these things that I have to fight, and I did. I did this for a living in my career, my 32 years in my corporate world, and here I am on the podcast, speaking as well, and it's still to this day. Every so often my RAS history will start coming up, especially when I'm tired, especially when I'm vulnerable, especially when I'm moody. It will come up and I have to keep telling it knock it off, you're not going to bubble up. So what I'm trying to get at is, once something challenging happens or you're triggered, your RAS will remember that and it will pull that event, it'll pull that history to the top of your mind because it's warning you, it's putting those thoughts back in your mind, it's trying to really trying to protect you in a way. But and some of these thoughts are debilitating and may even freeze you from doing the thing that you want to do and, to be honest with you, I let that RAS get to me because I had to do a reading. Oh gosh, this was years and years ago at my grandma's funeral, and I had to do the first reading at our funeral mass and I was so emotional that I froze up on the podium reading my grandma's first reading, and then I started reading it and then I started crying and thank goodness I had the priest, who I am so grateful for him today. He leaned over to me and he said take your time, take a deep breath and start over. You're going to do it. And it was almost like he spoke to my RAS. He spoke to my mind filter and it helped. But when your RAS becomes so intense, it can freeze you from getting out of bed, it can freeze you from stop. It can freeze and stop you completely from living your best life. If you don't know how to go ahead and train it and teach it and get rid of it, no one can rescue you from your RAS because your RAS is your. Like I described it before, it's the hair net over the top the neurons and the hair net over the top of your brain. You have to go ahead and do it yourself. You have to find your reason, for example, to get out of bed each day if you're feeling down, even if the reason is I'm just going to stop my thoughts, get out of bed, stop my thoughts and try to find hope. Today I remember that down and hopeless feeling I had when both my dad and Dennis were diagnosed my RAS was thinking of the worst case scenario for me. What will I do without my spouse? He has stage four cancer. What will I do without my dad? He has stage four cancer. What if they die next year together? How can I live without them? I kept just going through all of these thoughts and I feared the void. I worried excessively about money and my independence and what I was doing was feeding my RAS. But you have to get up and find a reason to get up. You must anchor yourself on something to push you. When you are in the tough season it may just be your faith or hope. But in season two, when you are in your new normal, where things are just normal, it's not the shock and all. Like Dennis after his chemotherapy treatments and he was in bits of remission that was normal life. You have to find more. You have to find whatever your goal is and set it. You have to figure out whatever you're focusing and focus on it and do it. It may be to just wake up and not feel horrible today. That might be my only goal today. It may be just to wake up and enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or that Danish you bought yesterday and now you can get up and enjoy a Danish in the morning that may be your driver for the day. After reading Mel Robbins book the Five Second Rule she gives you a lot of tips, by the way, if you're looking at trying to overcome it. There were times I used this when all I wanted to do was run away. Run away because challenge after challenge, struggle after struggle kept just popping up and all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and just saying I'm not going to do anything today, I'm just going to call in sick to the world. That's all I wanted to do If we give our mind too long while we're laying in bed. That's why Mel Robbins has a Five Second Rule. It's five, four, three, two, one get out of bed. That's really what she created. If we stay in bed too long, we start convincing ourselves and we start questioning things. That RAS system kicks in and starts giving you more things to convince yourself. When that alarm goes off, I get up. I don't even think about it, I just get into motion and look at the mirror. I created my own little statement saying motion. It doesn't have an E in front of it. Motion, cathy, not emotion. That's what I use. Everybody uses their own thing. Sometimes you just have to get up and do it again. It was a bad day yesterday. It's probably going to be a bad day today. My hope is that each day will get better. Each day there are moments of joy somewhere in the day, and soon I will find a reason for the pain and the challenges that I'm in. It reminds me too of just like running a marathon 26.2 miles. You don't think of every single mile when you're running the marathon. You just think about one step in front of the other, one road in front of the other. Because if you think about all of the, how long the journey is, it's just going to consume the negativity. But just getting out of bed doesn't make the negative thoughts go away, right, and the beliefs go away. The negative crap just continues to show up. At least it does for me. I'm sure it does for you. You have to change the programming of your RAS. You have to decide that you're tired of feeling this way and thinking this way. And the good news if you want to get rid of and reprogram your RAS, the good news is you can. You are the boss of your RAS. Think about the time you had a serious fight. Let's think about the time you had a serious fight with a friend or broke up with someone. Or maybe you just said something and you wish you could take it back. What do you do in those situations? For days or weeks, all you do is think about it. I can't believe I said that. Or you rehash the fight over and over and over again. You see things and you hear things that remind you of that person. You may even stalk that person online to see if they're talking about you or what they're doing, even though you don't want to be reminded of it or you don't want anything to do with them. Maybe, if you're broke up with somebody, your RAS is helping you find things to focus on your fight and giving you information so you can continue to beat yourself up. Or you feel you're rehashing it. You're bringing up emotions when really, what should you be doing? You should be moving on, but your RAS is remembering the history that just happened. But the good news is then something changes and you move on. Most of us let go of our RAS, but it stays in your history. You find a new friend, or you have a new focus or you have a new caregiving task. What changes is now? Your RAS moves to your next priority. It puts your fight and your past breakup in the history and moves on. Just like I said, your RAS likes to tell you yourself or you stories and repeated stories. So these are your mind algorithms. So if in the past you had a past experience let's say you had a bad experience with the doctor, a doctor and the doctor you brought up a question and the doctor got snippy with you and you got snippy what back with you Well, it keeps that algorithm in your history and so your in your thoughts and in your mind. It's just going ahead and reinforcing that. And so then when you go to go ahead and talk to the doctor again, what happens? Fear and negativity and doubt click in. You may even start telling yourself that you're not good, you're a failure, you're not a good advocate or you weren't. Maybe it was, maybe it's just me, and you start beating yourself up. But RAS, but the RAS isn't all bad and that's what I want to get at here. It will point out the good things too, and that's why I want to talk about training your mind filter to flip it over, and that's what we're going to call it Flip it over. You want to clean the mind filter, clean that dryer vent when the negative RAS starts kicking in and you want to be able to release it. What I mean by flip it over it's a way to shift from those negative thoughts to a better version of you in caregiving and in yourself overall. The example that comes to my mind and I've said this to you all many times, I think is I'm a terrible nurse and my RAS will find things to reassure and reinforce that. And then I start thinking I screw up everything. I'm a failure. I can never do the dressing right, whatever it would be. Instead, I need to flip it over. I need to forgive myself for the things that don't come easy to me and I'm trying my best Every day. I'm learning to do it better or finding help so my loved one gets the best possible care. I can't be good at everything right, and that's what we need to go ahead and do. Some people may say cut yourself some slack, yeah, so first. So how do you shift your negative thoughts about yourself? And first and foremost is, first of all, you want to embrace RAS. You want to embrace that your conscious and your filter is telling you things. And then, once you do that and we'll talk about some hacks to do that you have to first of all believe in yourself. You have to believe that you're a smart woman, you're a powerful woman, you are resourceful, you have many skills, talents, instincts, gut instincts. You have to go ahead and tell yourself that, as a matter of fact, in just a few minutes here I'm going to talk about this as a hack you have to go ahead and have this mindset when you look in the mirror each morning. You have a choice. You can go ahead and saying and look at all your faults and you're going to get the life of, or you can smile at yourself and tell yourself I'm doing my best. Today, I'm going to start out with all of my positive vibes and I'm going to do my best today because I'm strong, I'm powerful, I'm resourceful, I'm skillful. Whatever it would be, it's giving yourself that pep talk and looking at your eyes in the mirror. Mel Robin says give yourself a high five in the mirror, because there is science that says when you give yourself a high five in the mirror, you're actually putting your mind and your that motion of that high five is signaling to your mind positivity. I can't but think about athletes, because if I'm a quarterback and I throw an interception, I have a choice to let that RAS history get into my head when I go out and throw again, or am I going to go ahead and clean that filter so I can go back out there? A professional athlete has to go ahead and remove the mistakes. How many throws does a quarterback make? How many throws does a basketball shoot? You know they're going to miss, they're going to make mistakes. I even think about a gymnast. They're on the balance beam and they're on the balance beam and they practiced and practiced and practiced and they slip. She gets back or he gets back up on that balance beam and they have to have that mental strength and training to forget about it or to go ahead and put it in the very back row of their mind. Because if they don't we've seen both If they don't, they continue to make the same mistake over and over and over again. Or a good athlete that has the mental willpower and the and the right RAS training will learn to go ahead and get rid of it and filter it. What if you shifted and flipped it over. I love saying that, for some reason. Another cool thing about RAS is training it to work for you is going to be easy. Want me to share an example why it's easy. Well, you can use any scenario. I'm going to use a scenario of at the beginning of June, I think, june or May, whatever it was the beginning of summer we knew we had to replace our mailbox. And we have a mailbox at the end of our curb on a big pole and then the mailbox is on the top. Well, it's tipping over and so we wanted to replace our mailbox and put it in a better spot so the snow plows don't push snow up against it. Well, once you go ahead and work on a project and it becomes priority, what do you notice? You notice everybody's mailboxes. You notice the colors of the mailboxes. Are they the hard recycled plastic? Are they metal? Are the poles wood? Are the poles metal? You notice. You notice the landscaping around it, the flowers around it. Then you go, start shopping for mailboxes and look at the prices and the different designs of mailboxes. You notice what numbers and how they put the numbers on. Your focus is all in on them. I never looked at mailboxes and I walk every single day. I never looked at them and all of a sudden I obsess over mailboxes. I think you get it. That's what RES is there. Then, once we put in our mailbox, once we plant I planted beautiful lilies around my mailbox and we have it all landscapes. I don't look at mailboxes anymore. So that's back in my history. I think you get it. So now let's talk about repeated negative thoughts, negative self-talk. Your RES believes it's important. That's first of all. It feeds on in scanning your environment to affirm negative thoughts. It wants to go ahead and feed on that. For example, when you say you look in the mirror and you're like you look at your body, right, you look at your mirror and you start looking at all of its faults. What does your RES do? It starts looking at it. You start looking at oh, I got bat wings underneath my arms. I got age spots on my arms. Oh, my gosh, I got a mosquito bite on my shoulder. I'm just describing what I look like right now. Or the opposite. You look at your caregiver life. You start obsessing. You say say something out of frustration, I hate my life right now. And then what is what happens with your RAS? It starts reaffirming it. It starts reaffirming things and just goes ahead and starts doing that. So, like you hate your caregiver life, well then you start looking at your loved one struggling to get out of their chair, or you look at the insurance claims coming in and how much you owe. Or you pull on your phone and you pull up social media and you see your friends that you used to go out with at a concert right now and you're sitting at home. It just keeps reinforcing your negative thoughts and feeding on that. So you have to. What you have to do is you have to stop RAS and clean the filter. Each time it starts with intention to focus on flipping it over, and what I found is and I'll tell you my top three hacks in a little bit but some of the things that I've read is affirmations smiling in the mirror and tell yourself three things you're proud of. Anna Kotbe talked about that. She had an interview and somebody said to her smile in the mirror at yourself before you go to bed at night. And then you can't go to bed until you tell yourself three things you're proud of about yourself. How cool is that? That's shifting and flipping it over. Gratitude has worked for me, but remember gratitude. When you're writing about gratitude, it's usually you're grateful for something else Somebody opened the door for you or you saw a bird outside and very seldom do you are you grateful for yourself or you put yourself on the bottom of that list. Right now, you may have the tendency to live in a low mental and emotional state. That's just fact. Thanks to your past or your caregiver, challenges are both. That's why you may have low confidence, low self-esteem and low levels of motivation. When you get intentional about flipping it over, you restore yourself back to the higher mental and emotional state that you are meant to have. You are meant to have. In the Five Habits book, I want to read this quote that Mel Robbins wrote you cannot think your way to a new life. You must act your way there, one high five at a time. Taking consistent action towards change is not always easy, but you can do it and it's true, you can't think your way through life. You can't let your thoughts and your feelings that you have to get into motion, like I said, and you take the action and you can make it happen. So before I end this episode today, I'm going to tell you my four secrets to flipping it over, flipping your negative thoughts, and these have worked for me. Now, my little disclaimer here is you build your own toolkit. Try things. Take things and try them. If they don't work, toss them aside, try something else. But the one thing that's really worked for me is I play a brain game with myself when I'm in negative thoughts. Look for something that pulls your focus away from your negativity and your negative thoughts. Do you remember or have you ever played the ABC game on long trips, when I would go? I live in Green Bay, wisconsin, and my grandparents lived in Phoenix, arizona, and every summer and I can't believe we went in the summer, but every summer we would take a month-long trip and go down to Phoenix Arizona and it was wonderful, but it was a long ride. And so when we would get antsy, my mom and dad would look back and say girls, play the ABC game. We would look for A's and B's and C's and we would go ahead and look for the letters on the signs or the billboards or whatever to keep ourselves distracted, and that got us away from thinking are we there yet? Are we there yet? Well, in today's world, I do one of a few things. I will look for hearts, shaped hearts everywhere, because no matter where you're at, you can find a heart somewhere. It might be on somebody's coffee cup, it might be on somebody's shirt. You can look outside Leaves might be shaped in the form of a heart. The clouds in the sky might be shaped. If you're on the beach, you could look for a heart-shaped rocks. I try that and it does it too. I also look for birds. I look for. I've On my morning walks I've also looked to see how many different types of birds I could identify on my walk Robins, blackbirds, cardinals, whatever. I look for different birds Also. I've also went ahead and sat out on my patio on a cloudy, on a puffy blue, cloudy, blue sky, cloudy day, and just looked at the different shapes in the clouds and looked at what shapes they were building. What am I trying to get at here is when you do that, you start moving away from your negative thoughts and start training your RAS to clear out the negativity and show that you want to interrupt the old thought patterns that you have and then embrace how you feel. When you are looking for the heart shapes, when you are looking for different figures, whatever you're looking at, then you're realizing, once you're doing, that I'm not thinking about the bad argument that I had with my loved one last night your negative voice has one weakness. That's the RAS has one weakness it hates being interrupted and told to shut up. So it's really good for you to go and try to distract it. So the brain game is what I do a lot. Another one that I do is I hang up positivity thoughts, mantras, meaning words around me, and I have many things that will shift my thoughts and keep me thinking. Now you could go ahead and remember I said earlier I am powerful. I am strong, I am smart. Whatever your mantra is, you could hang that on your mirror. You could post it notes on your mirror, whatever you could put those on. I also have desk calendars that have quotes on them, so I read the quote of the day. You could go ahead and do quotes. You could go ahead and have a book of affirmation. Some people pull out their Bible or their spiritual book, whatever it is. You want something to remind you. My home is filled with quotes. In my office I have choose happiness. I have one over here. Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions speak louder than your words. I had to turn around and look at it. I have words all around me. I have one in my bedroom that says you are amazing. That's what it says and repeat that. So that's the second one. And then the third one is act like the person you want to be. Act like the person you want to be, because this was a game changer for me. I had to figure out how I wanted to show up and, as a matter of fact, I'm just going to do a sidebar. Here is in the Empowerful Caregiver course coming out in September. That's going to be a whole lesson or two that we're going to be talking about, because when you show up and how you want to show up as a caregiver is important. What I needed to do to be energetic is important. What you need to do to be empathetic is important. So you have to think about what. Do you need to be your best self every day through this long journey? What is your purpose? What expectations are you setting for yourself? How do you want to show up each day as your best person? That means you don't show up that way every day, but this means taking care of yourself and setting healthy boundaries. I had to start taking care of myself and setting healthy boundaries because I didn't like the person I was becoming. In addition, when I acted like the person I wanted to be, it meant that I had to find community. I had to find my community of caregivers. I connected with accountability partners that I meet with weekly. I asked for help and created a morning ritual for myself, because if I didn't go ahead and walk each day, I felt like a different person. If I didn't journal each day, I felt it. If I didn't eat well each day, I knew I was off. Now it wasn't perfect, but I couldn't let negativity, self-doubt and all the challenges get to me. So I had to clean my mind filter. I had to clean that filter and that filter. The way I cleaned that filter was taking care of myself. And the fourth one I already told you about, and that is the action piece. The action piece, in order to flip it over and reduce negativity, is going back to the quote that Mel Robbins talked about getting into action. Talking about what I do is just you need to get up. You need to get up and go ahead and look in that mirror and get into motion. You need to go ahead and figure out how can I release that negativity and, for me, motion over emotion. I'm going to take the E off of it and get into motion. And that motion doesn't mean it doesn't have to mean physically walking. It could mean doing something that's going to take your mind off of the negativity. It could be getting into gardening, it could be you like to clean. Whatever it would be, you need to go ahead and get your mind off of it. But for to kind of conclude today, it took me saying enough is enough. It might take you saying enough is enough. I don't want to be stuck anymore. I can't stay stuck. I can't stay in this thought process anymore. It's affecting me personally, it's affecting me socially, it's affecting me mentally, it's affecting me physically. And when you start going ahead and realizing that you understand your reticular activation system and how your mind filter works, that's the first step. Embrace it, saying okay, I know, ras, what you're trying to do to me. Now I'm going to start working on it, because I don't want this to be in my history. I don't want to go ahead and be overloaded. I'm going to start reprogramming what is important for me and once you do that, you can look in that mirror and saying I'm doing the best I can and I am so proud of myself. You have a good rest of the day, my friend. I hope you found this episode insightful. If you did, can you do me a favor? Drop me a rating on your podcast site. Those five stars help me so much and helps me get to more people. You have a good rest of the day and we'll talk to you again next Tuesday. Bye for now.

Overcoming Negative Thoughts in Caregiving
Clearing the Mental Lint Filter
Finding Purpose and Overcoming Negative Thoughts
Power of RAS and Positive Thinking
Flipping Negative Thoughts With Brain Games
Shifting Thoughts and Taking Action
Understanding and Reprogramming the Mind Filter