Monday, March 7, 2011


Here's a sneak preview of the “The Caregiver Hour” April radio shows. (More info below) Here we look at “The Intentional Caregiver” topics through the MindfulCaregiving lens. Last week's topic was "The Cost of UNintentionality".

What’s Your Winning Formula?
The Payoff of Intentional Self-awareness

“We need to let go of fixed ideas, behaviors, attachments...
Unfettered, your true self flows to the surface
and moves you toward your purpose...”
~ Gabrielle Roth

Most of us think we know who we are. Our personalities, skills, attitudes, and values give us survival strategies for building a life that feels safe. Then caregiving hits. As we shift into full gear, how we respond is determined by our habitual tactics of the past.

At some point familiar ways of operating can stop working. As Sydney Rice-Harrild tells us in her book Choice Points, “We all have an internal system for producing results that operates on its own, helping us to produce consistent results without our even having to think about it, but it doesn’t work in our favor when what we want is managed change.” Caregiving IS change.

Not to worry —with a bit of intentional self-awareness you can prepare yourself. Start by making a list of your personal skills, traits, and strengths, sometimes called your “Winning Formula”. What’s Your winning formula? Notice how these tactics can serve you during caregiving. Yes, you came equipped.

But as you look at your list, also consider the caregiving situations in which these might not work as well. Do you take charge, telling others what to do? That may not always be appropriate. Do you isolate yourself to get your bearings? There might not always be time for that. Knowing your habitual tactics will allow you to adapt when they don’t work. Being mindfully aware will let you intentionally unattach from your habitual behaviors, allowing you to be flexible. On some level, there are no good or bad character traits—there is only what works in the moment. Be a learner. Caregiving will be easier and you will be more effective.

Now broaden your effectiveness still more by noting on your list the opposites of those tactics. Might not these be useful tools to add to your caregiving toolbox? Ever-changing circumstances can require new approaches, new ways of thinking and being. An outspoken person may need to learn tact. A reticent person may need to take charge. Tuning your awareness to who you are being throughout a caregiving day gives you more options for effectiveness. Know who you are, and you can choose who you need to be.

Intentional Caregiving opens the way to greater ease, smoother relationships, and an increase in personal power. You can gradually learn how to build your resilience and move with the prevailing winds of caregiving.

In the next article we’ll dig deeper into this practice of intentional focus, looking at “The Power of Intentional Connection“.

And Check out “The Caregiver Hour” Radio Show!

On the four Mondays in April, the topic of “The Caregiver Hour” weekly radio show* will be “The Intentional Caregiver”. Holly will join host Kim Linder and her guests to empower and enlighten caregivers on approaching caregiving with mindful intentionality. All shows are archived on-line for later access.

“The Caregiver Hour” airs every Monday at noon EST online at or on Tampa Bay radio WHNZ Station 1250 AM

1 comment:

The Style Crone said...

I have been the caregiver for my husband who was diagnosed with a rare cancer six years ago. He was admitted to hospice last week, so this transition is painful but it's a comfort for us to know that we have 24/7 access to experts should a crisis occur. Last summer I launched the blog in an effort to focus on creativity and process our experiences. My blog, along with yoga, meditation, friends, and family have helped me grow and stretch during this difficult journey. Now that I read your post, I believe that these strategies have been my efforts to be an 'intentional caregiver.'