“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes. Hugh Prather ”
Life sometimes gives us rotten lemons and when that happens, we’re expected—by ourselves and, often, by others—to somehow use them to make lovely lemonade. Easier said than done, I’d say. But sometimes that attitude is just what is needed to get through life. What can we do, as family members and caregivers, to point ourselves in the right direction and make the day-to-day journey more positive and just a little easier both for ourselves and for those in our care?
A good place to start is by trying to go with the flow. That doesn’t mean being passive, or lazy, or sitting back and letting things happen to you. It’s about two things: first, accepting that, however much you’d like to, you simply can’t control everything; and second, deciding to take care of yourself as well.
When you’re ready for action, take baby steps. Things will not dramatically improve overnight. Perhaps you can gradually influence change but, in the moment, all you can usually do is come to terms with the fact that the situation is what it is. Start small. You won’t be successful if you bite off huge chunks at a time and then get overwhelmed by the magnitude of your task.
Breathe deeply a few times whenever you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated. It helps to be aware of your thoughts and inner reactions. In the heat of a crisis or an annoying situation, try to slow down and put things into perspective. Ask yourself this question: A week, a month or a year from now, will this incident matter a single whit? Odds are, it won’t— which means it’s not worth stressing about now.
And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find relief when you learn to laugh at your own mistakes, and gently shake your head when you eventually realize that—try as you might— you can’t control what other people do or say. You might actually chuckle at the silly things that happen, the awkward moments, and the absurdity of some situations you’ve come across along the way.
None of us are perfect. Embrace change and imperfection as facts of life, and go with the flow. After all, you’re not being apathetic or passive, just wisely taking a step back and looking after yourself. And that, my friend, is what it takes to hang in there and make the very finest lemonade.
Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Editor in Chief