The family caregiver journey is very challenging and must have many moments of having mental clarity mixed with mindfulness - living in the moment. Instead of developing these habits, we sometimes reflect on the more challenging things that didn’t happen. Like taking a loved one to a doctor’s appointment and think about the worse outcome before the doctor sees the loved one.
According to Linda Graham in Bouncing Back, the following exercise will aid you in getting through the almost tough times with gratitude, and eventually getting to the tough times with resilience.
Exercise: Practicing Gratitude for the Bad Things That Don’t Happen
1. Pay attention, as you go throughout your day, to bad things that might have happened, but they didn’t. You tripped on the sidewalk but you didn’t fall. You felt like you were coming down with a cold, but you didn’t. You almost said something sarcastic to your colleague when they flubbed something, but you didn’t.
2. Notice the goodness that something bad didn’t happen. Notice a sense of relief, of ease. Let a feeling of gratitude arise for that moment of relief.
3. Savor the gratitude for 10-20-30 seconds. Let the moment become a resource for you as you go through the rest of the day. Yes, resilience is coping well with the difficult, sometimes the truly awful. We can recover resources for resilience by noticing how often things go right, for those we care about and ourselves.
4. Pass this idea along to a friend; ask them later how the coping in their day shifted as they practiced gratitude for the bad things that didn’t happen.
Share with us what happened and maybe it will cause others to try this exercise. It’s all about us helping each other!!