Welcome back, Careblazer.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what to do when other people don’t think your LOWD has any problems. They hear you talk about the challenges, the stress, the strange behaviors, the decline...and then they see your LOWD and your LOWD seems fine. They might even make comments to your that your LOWD doesn’t seem bad at all.
Here’s a question I got from a Careblazer during a live Q & A session I did:
“I need some good responses to people saying..." "I just had a wonderful conversation with ___, he is doing so well." This makes me feel defensive and want to say - and I have on occasion - "Try living with him." Sound familiar? If so, you will want to keep reading.
If you would rather watch the video on this topic, click here.
Before I share some new ways to think about this, make sure you download my FREE Careblazer survival guide here.
Okay, let’s take a look at this question and why these situations lead to defensiveness.
What causes our feelings in the first place? I have done a video on this in the past and I’ll provide a link below. Most people think that what other people say and do cause our feelings. It’s important that you understand this isn’t true to begin to make progress in these types of situations. If you can understanding this, Careblazer, you can use this to help you in many of life’s challenges well beyond those of being a Careblazer.
So, using the situation above, a family member said “He is doing so well” and you feel defensive. You give the reason for your defensiveness to that person.
However, what is really happening is that you are having a thought about what they said and THAT is actually what is causing your defensiveness. Their words didn’t make you defensive, what you made those words mean made you defensive.
This explains why the same exact thing can happen to multiple people and they can all feel differently.
Let’s use a non-related example to help this concept sink in. Let’s say you walk down the aisle of a store, and someone you know walks right past you. You smile and say "hi" but they don’t respond at all.
What immediately goes through your mind?
Not how do you feel, but what immediately do you think?
Some might think:
“He’s mad at me.”
“He doesn’t like me.”
“What a jerk.”
“They must have a lot on their mind.”
“Phew, I’m in a rush and didn’t want to have a conversation right now.”
“He must not have heard me.”
Same situation; all kinds of different thoughts.
Depending on your thought, you feel differently.
The person who thinks:
“He’s mad at me.” - worries
“He doesn’t like me.” - sad
“What a jerk.” - angry
“They must have a lot on their mind.” - concerned
“Phew, I’m in a rush and didn’t want to have a conversation right now.” - relieved
“He must not have heard me.” - indifferent/okay
Most people don’t pay attention to their thoughts, just their feelings, so they blame the other person or situation on how they feel. This leaves you powerless and gives the control of your feelings to other people.
So let’s go back to the exact question:
Someone said, “He’s doing so well.”
We now know that those words didn’t create the defensiveness. It’s whatever you make those words mean that created your defensiveness.
Step #1 is asking yourself, "what am I making this mean?"
I’m guessing this Careblazer made those words of “he’s doing so well” mean something like,
“They don’t believe me when I tell them he has issues.”
“They think I’m lying.”
“They think I’m exaggerating.”
“They have some nerve to tell me he’s doing well when they barely spend any time with him.”
You are basically making their words mean something about you.
All of those thoughts lead to defensiveness and make it likely to reply back like this Careblazer did, “Try spending a day with him!”
Let’s step back.
What actually happened? All that happened was they said words. They said they had a nice conversation. The problem is that you are making those means so many other things.
If you know what’s going on, then you know the truth no matter what. You can stand confident in knowing how your loved one is most days.
You also know this is a difficult and complicated disease. In fact, so difficult that sometimes you’ve actually seen your LOWD do better when strangers or other people come around.
That’s actually common, right? How many of you have seen your LOWD actually seem okay around others? It’s super confusing and frustrating. I’ve done a whole video on that topic alone- I’ll link to that below.
The chances that they may have actually had a nice conversation with your LO are pretty good.
In this case, you have the option of responding with comments like:
“I’m glad you had a nice conversation.”
“Yeah, he has some really good moments, I’m glad you caught one.”
“He really enjoys visitors and perks up for those conversations.”
“I know, I’m so happy. It’s nice to see that change in him.”
None of those responses mean that your loved one doesn’t have dementia. None of those responses mean that your loved one isn’t difficult to care for at times.
It just means that some people had a nice conversation with your loved one at a moment in time.
We can’t change the entire world. We can’t stop them from saying things. So how do you want to think about those words? And if you want to think in ways that lead you to get defensive, then that’s your right - you can go along doing that - but just know, you are in control of what you make the words mean and that means you are in control of your feelings. How do you want to feel? If you want to keep feeling defensive, then you don’t have to change a thing.
But most Careblazers who talk to me about this issue, they don’t like that feeling. It also tends to put a strain on family relationships when this is a disease that could benefit from people coming together more than ever.
This is hard stuff, Careblazer! I realize it may feel uncomfortable or even the thought of this might bring up some defensiveness in you. But take a moment to pause and think about the concept that other people and situations don’t cause your feelings- it’s only your thinking.
What are some past situations where something someone said led to you feeling a certain way?
Can you see how you were thinking about that situation?
Can you see the relationship?
This isn’t to beat yourself up. It’s to raise your awareness. Because, when you step into the full control that you have over your feelings, no one has power over you anymore no matter what words they say. I really hope you let this one sink it. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it, the pay off is huge.
I’ll be back next week, Careblazer. Until then, hang in there and keep up the great work.