Besides learning how to live in the present, learning how to stop the merry-go-round of negative thinking was the most valuable tool I learned in my years of caregiving. Perhaps you don’t quite understand my meaning. I mean the act of getting mad about something and then playing and re-playing the scenario in your head ad infinitum! It then spirals out of control until that is all you can think about and it takes over your life such that you can think of nothing else! It also takes over your body, releasing all sorts of endorphins keeping your emotions at peak level. It puts you into a “fight or flight” type mode that can actually do some harm to your body. And it makes you feel very angry, depressed, etc. depending on the circumstances of the situation. And it can make you difficult to be around.
Here is an example: When I was having an MRI the other day, it said to arrive 15 minutes early, so I did. I arrived over a half-an-hour early. There was a woman about my age who also arrived that early for her appointment. A gal from the log-in area came out briefly and said that they were having a Christmas party for their staff, and that the log-in staff would be out at 12:45pm. The woman immediately got mad and said to everyone in the waiting room how mad she was at having to wait because she had made her appointment over 6 months ago and she deserved to be seen! Then as each new patient walked in she repeated her comment and snidely told the other patients to sit down instead of standing in line because the staff was having a Christmas Party (during her time) and none of them would be taken care of until 12:45pm. This progressed until 12:45pm when the 4 workers came out to log-in the patients.
I got tired of listening to the patient complain, and said loud enough for most patients to hear, how nice it was for the staff to have a Christmas Party, and that I was sure we would all be taken care of at our scheduled time.
As it turns out, no one else in the room acted disgruntled at all, just that one patient. In a way I took the “wind out of her sails”, but it did stop her cycle of negative talk. If she only knew that winding herself up emotionally does harm to her own body and mind. And it was making her feel more unhappy.
It’s better if you can stop the negative cycle of thoughts as soon as you recognize them as such, and change your thought processes to something else, or make a good scenario out of the situation, perhaps by saying to yourself: “Well, that poor woman is having a really bad day”, or “She must be living a difficult life”. When someone makes you mad, you have no idea what sort of horrible things may have happened to them to make them react the way they do. Give them leeway, and don’t let a thought or action rile you up. As caregivers, we don’t need any more stress that what we already have. Stop the negative spiral before it takes hold of you. Also don’t feed into other folks’ negative spirals. If necessary be silent, or walk away. You will be much happier!
That day all patients were quickly registered, and taken in according to their scheduled times. I did see the angry patient after her scan, and she seemed much calmer.