Workshop funded by the Department of Justice Canada and arranged by Victim Issues Coordinating Committee of Leeds and Grenville and Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2016
I attended this workshop on June 1st and felt that there was a lot of relevant content for me to share with caregivers of people with mental illnesses. Personal Resiliency is a very important trait for caregivers to nurture within themselves.
I came away with a lot of quotes that resonated with me and I hope they inspire and resonate with you.
Events VS ThoughtsIt is important to know that the events in your life are your problems. It is your thoughts about those events that create your problems. As an example, say your child has schizophrenia and decides to go off their medication. You know that this is likely going to result in some drama and crisis for your child as well as yourself. One parent may deal with this situation by saying "Here we go again" or their self talk may be constantly saying things are going to get scary and their anxiety begins to escalate. A parent who has more control over their self talk and has greater personal relisiency may be more inclined to say "I have been though similar situations and I have the skills and knowledge I need to help manage this challenge." An even more resilient statement could be "I've been through this before and I now have many more tools and more knowledge to handle this effectively than I did when this just started. I am better off and better prepared to handle this situation that I was before."
Life AnchorsWe need to do a better job catching our mind in its default mode. The default mode of our brain is to be REACTIVE, JUDGEMENTAL and it FEEDS ON THOUGHTS. We have a cave dweller brain with a victim oriented mind in an office dweller environment. We end up where our thoughts take us. Dick uses the term LIFE ANCHOR to describe something we can say to ourselves in difficult moments that holds you strong. It must be big and powerful and comes from a time of personal struggle. It is an actual phrase, word or sentence. It must replace the reactive "This isn't fair" thought which so many of us go to when faced with a challenge. It can be things such as: This too shall pass. I will find a way. I've survived before. I am strong enough. Temporary.
BotheredNorth Americans have become "EASILY BOTHERED" It is crucial to your resiliency to work on becoming less easily bothered. The focus must move from the event to our response to the event. This will help you in becoming less easily bothered. Think about this for a moment. Think about something that usually bothers you. Should it hold the weight in your life and mind that you give it? Would you feel better if you could change your response to the event? Your thoughts drive your feelings. If we can be better at managing our thoughts before they hijack our feelings, we will be able to change how events impact our wellbeing.
Greet Meet CompleteDick spoke about how his early years as a monk have shaped how he structures his day. He has taken the structure of Lauds/Vespers/Compline and moved it into a more secular GREET/MEET/COMPLETE ritual and structure.
GREET: Perform a ritual of greeting the day. This can be a quiet coffee or tea and breakfast without the usual distractions of emails and news that North Americans often begin as soon as they wake.
MEET: Meet the day. Mindfully meeting the challenges of each day. Using your ANCHORS and rituals to help you consider your responses to the events that occur.
COMPLETE: Rituals for bedtime. This should not include distractions and screen time. It should include meditative preparation for sleep.
There are very powerful sacred spaces on this planet, some of which are ancient religious places and some are more natural sacred spaces. Places such as Stonehenge, Jerusalem, Mahabohdi, etc. are ancient sacred places where millions of people throughout the ages have gone and prayed, meditated and/or completed rituals. These places hold the original power of the place as well as the energy of those people. There are smaller sacred places locally where you find yourself going to visit, relax and reflect. Your mind already knows this place and why you are there. Allow yourself to seek out these places on a regular basis. There are smaller sanctuaries within our homes. These can be a room or even a corner of a room where you go when you need a place for your mind to know it is safe.
Dick O'Brien's Care Giver Credo
1 I know that before I can take good care of anyone or anything, I must first take good care of myself.
2 I must cultivate daily renewal of the four basic environments--physical, mental, social, spiritual.
3 I need to reflect on how I meet, greet, and complete each day.
4 I must overcome the adversity of life through the cultivation of life anchors.
5 I need to constantly know what is truly important in life and live by it.
6 I must create the time to pursue regular personal renewal.
7 I must never lose sight of my true purpose in life.
8 I need to monitor the balance between work, home and health and daily refocus my attention where needed.
Increase your Personal WellbeingYou can influence, manage and mitigate but you cannot control life
1 Notice your thoughts - Mindfulness
2 Create healthy space in your life - Visit sacred places
3 Laugh often - The spiritual glue of sanity
4 Counsel yourself - Develop life anchors
5 Become less easily bothered - Dial it down
6 Create quiet time in your life - Stillness
7 Gain strength from being in healthy relationships
To contact Dick O'Brien