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Can you really control your emotions?
Many believe that their emotional responses to situations are out of their control, especially in high-stress caregiving scenarios. However, by managing our thoughts, we can significantly influence our feelings and actions, ultimately shaping our reactions and outcomes.

3 Practical Tips And Tricks For A Stress Less Dementia Caregiving Journey

Drawing from Biblical wisdom, Lizette explains how renewing our minds can help us align our thoughts with God's will, leading to more positive emotions and actions. I stress the significance of gratitude in shifting our perspectives and fostering a more joyful caregiving experience.

By catching, challenging, and changing negative thoughts, we can transform our emotional responses and interactions with loved ones with dementia.

Transforming Caregiving Through Thought

The journey begins with understanding that situations trigger thoughts, which in turn create feelings leading to actions. By consciously altering our thoughts, we can navigate through challenging caregiving experiences with more grace and effectiveness. This approach doesn't change the situation but transforms our experience of it.

Harnessing Thoughts for Better Outcomes

The key to managing our reactions lies in the power of thought. While we can't control every aspect of our environment, we have full control over our thoughts. By shifting our mindset from negative to positive, we can produce more favorable reactions and outcomes, even in the most challenging situations.


Control over our thoughts means control over our emotions and actions, enabling us to face caregiving challenges more positively and productively. By fostering a mindset focused on positivity and proactive thought, caregivers can find more joy and satisfaction in their roles.

Read More:

Walking By Faith: One Christian Caregivers Dementia Care Journey

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Subscribe To Dementia Caregiving For Families Podcast

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Controlling Emotions

[0:00] How many of you believe that you can actually control your emotions?
How many of you wonder whether the situation that you are in is so dire and so difficult that, of course, it's going to to have this terrible outcome and result.
If you feel like that, I ask you and invite you to listen to today's episode where we are going to explore how a situation that we are in results in a thought that results in a feeling, that results in an action or a behavior, and that if we can control our thoughts, we can actually alter the outcome of whatever situation we are in.
We cannot always control the situation, and we cannot always control everything around it, but we can control how we respond to it.
So I invite you today to episode 109, three practical tips and tricks for a stress-less dementia caregiving journey.

Christian Caregiving Worldview

[1:25] Have you recently found out someone you love has dementia, struggling to wrap your head around how to be a Christian caregiver?
Searching for answers by joining countless Facebook groups but find them toxic, learning how to cope with dementia feels difficult, but learning a Christian caregiving worldview can be easy.
Hey, brother and sister in Christ, I'm Lizette, occupational therapist, pastor's wife, turned dementia coach, and a daughter of dementia.
In this podcast, you will learn the truth that the way to make dementia care easy is your faith.
Knowing that a loving God has decreed this hard providence in your life makes all the difference.
Here you will gain skills.
You will be challenged by what God says in his word about caregiving, and you will to learn exactly what dementia is and is not.
Find clarity and certainty from God's word so you have perseverance for this journey.
Use science-backed solutions and biblical principles to redeem your time.
Praying this blesses you as we dive into dementia from a Christian perspective.
Let's glorify God despite dementia.

Forgetfulness or Memory Deficit: Unpacking the Real Difference and How It Relates to Dementia

Frustration Turnaround

[2:52] I will never forget this occupational therapy student that I worked with many, many years ago when I was working in home health.
Now, the situation was we were working together home health, which meant she came to my house, we would get in the car, and we would spend an eight-hour day together driving from one place to another in beautiful, sunny South Carolina to go see my patients.
And this particular student was going through a very difficult period of time in her life.
And the situation was that I sensed her frustration, her thoughts going on.
And so when we got into the car one day to go see patients, I remember very clearly, clearly distinctly sitting there and thinking to myself, I don't want to go. I don't want to see these patients.
I do not want to spend the entire day in the car with her. It is driving me nuts. I don't want to do this.
But the reality was that I had a job to do and those were the thoughts I had.
And I was super frustrated and angry and I didn't want to do it.
But I drove to my patient's house, and we get out of the car, and we go in, and we work together, and I see this patient.

[4:13] But my entire frame of mind and my own thoughts and my emotions related to that situation.

[4:23] Totally spilled out onto the situation, and we had a terrible session.
The patient picked up on it. My student picked up on it.
It was awful. It was clunky, it was difficult, and it was obviously what I call a finger-paint session and not a masterpiece.

Importance of Thoughts

[4:47] I would always have either the finger-paint OT sessions or the masterpiece OT sessions.
Now, this particular story is going to be extremely important for you as we unpack today's episode called Three Practical Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Less Dementia Caregiving Journey.
So what I want you to understand is that situations occur, but after a situation occurs, your thoughts will drive your feelings.
Your feelings will drive your actions, and your actions will actually drive your results of caregiving.
And that is what we're going to look at very briefly today in this episode.
So, point number one, thoughts, your own thoughts, my own thoughts, drive our feelings.

[5:50] Romans 12 verse 2 says, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So we must not be conformed to this world, but we need to renew our mind, right?
And And so, as we're talking about thoughts today, I thought it would be interesting to go look and see what it says a thought is.
Well, a thought is what you say inside your head, your ideas, beliefs, or self-talk.
And recently, I was in a sermon, and I forgot where the sermon, you know, which sermon it was.
But the pastor said that we, on average, and how they figure this out or how they know this, on average, our...

[7:01] Thoughts, our speech, our self-talk per minute is about 4,000 words a minute.
We talk to ourself all the time in our thoughts.
Our thoughts are always going. And our thoughts are extremely, extremely powerful.

[7:25] And when you say these things in your mind, what it does is it will actually result in a feeling.
So I see this a lot when I have family caregivers that I'm working with, where they say, but I don't have a choice, or this is so difficult, or whatever negative self-talk related to their dementia caregiving journey is, when you come into your caregiving journey as a family caregiver, and you have that constant stream of negative self-talk related to caregiving, you will inadvertently create the monster or the beast that you're trying to avoid.
And so Philippians 4 verse 13 says, I can do all things, all things through him who strengthens me.
So our thoughts can, we can control our thoughts. We just don't.

[8:41] Have not been necessarily taught to control our thoughts.
But we are 100% in control of our own thoughts.
And we don't believe that we can choose them, but you can choose what you think about.

[9:02] So back to the situation I was unpacking for you with me and my student, where I had all these negative thoughts, where I had all these negative emotions because of the situation that I was in that really created this terrible situation for my patient and for my student.
But I got back into the car that day and I had a conversation with myself.
And the conversation literally went something like this.
Lizette, you have to stop thinking this. You have to suck it up, buttercup.
You control your emotions. You

Attitude Adjustment

[9:43] control what you choose to do and how you choose to show up to this day.
So suck it up, buttercup, and change your attitude.
So I gave myself a significant significant attitude adjustment in the car as we were driving and we were kind of getting ready to go to the next patient's house.
So even though I didn't really still feel like I really wanted to be there, I started to think about how.

[10:15] Being different, about being upbeat, about being engaged with the patient, about being positive and coming from a positive mindset when I went into the next person's house.
And I literally faked it till I felt it because my thoughts were positive pretty quick in the session.
I started bantering with the patient and my emotions started to follow because the patient started to laugh and engage with me.
My student got engaged in the session and everything turned around.
But the only thing that changed was my own thinking.

[10:59] Nothing else changed in the situation.
It was still an eight-hour day in the car with this girl who was having a hard time. but I could not control that.
I couldn't control the fact that we were going to be in the car for eight hours a day, but I could control what I thought about it.
And so I changed what I thought about it, and it ended up with an entirely different result.
We had a great session together, and I recall walking back out to the car and saying to her, so how do you think that session went.
And she's like, Lizette, that was great. It was awesome.
You know, and I said to her, I said, so what was different between the first session and the second session?

[11:48] And so she was trying to think it through related to, you know, strategies and therapy stuff and everything.
And she was coming up with lots of different reasons.
And finally, I just looked at her and I said, no, none of that.
I said, the only thing that changed was what I thought about the session.

[12:09] What I thought controlled my emotions, and then it changed the actions that I took, which changed the results that I got from very similar sessions back to get

family christian dementia caregiver

Understanding Emotions

[12:26] back. So what are emotions?
So emotions are bodily reactions, physical reactions.
They are normal. We all have emotions, and they are things like joy or fear or sadness or anger or all of these different types of things.
But it's a reaction. It's a bodily reaction.
And it is normal, and you do feel what you feel.

[12:57] And your feelings are valid to you. But the reality is that feelings are not necessarily truth.
I feel what I feel, but it doesn't necessarily mean that my feelings are true.
My feelings are true based off of my limited perception, my limited reality

Validity of Feelings

[13:21] based on a situation and my own thoughts about it and then a response, right?
For example, I am deadly afraid of a spider, including a totally harmless spider.
The truth is that spider is totally harmless, the harmless one.
I'm not talking about a venomous one, but a harmless spider is entirely harmless.
And I get a visceral emotion of fear when I come across a spider, especially if they are unaware, you know, if I'm not aware of them.

[14:05] To the point that it was a huge family fun that my children had a whole bunch of plastic spiders that they would hide around the house, including in my purse, including under my pillow to scare me because they knew I would get a fright.
My emotions were valid.
I felt them, but they weren't true. That plastic spider wasn't going to do anything to me, right?
But it was my reaction, my response.
So we can have emotions that are not.

[14:42] True. They're not, they are valid, you feel them, but they're not necessarily true truth response to the situation or the experience that we're going through.
So what's a practical tip for us if we are, you know, in a situation where our feelings are vastly impacting our ability to be more joyous or be more positive or be more content as a Christian family caregiver of a person living with dementia?
Well, a very practical tip that I can give you for that is to create a gratitude jar.
Just grab a jar, put several little pieces of paper and a pen right there, and every single day find one thing, one thing to be grateful for in a dementia caregiving journey.

[15:47] Ironically, every week I have a Facebook group. It's called Dementia Caregiving for Families.
If you're looking for a free place to hang out, please join us there.
I do have a prompt that comes up once a week saying, what are you grateful for despite a dementia caregiving journey?
And one of the ladies today said she is grateful that she owns her house and I think that is a great way to reframe it because maybe it is a harder day for her but she's still grateful for her house every single day when I start my day at work when I'm starting to prepare for, the things that I need to do I write down five things I am grateful for sometimes they are literally just, I'm grateful for my chickens, right?
But something that I'm grateful for, something to reframe it off of me and onto finding the good in a particular situation.
So to recap real quick, thoughts drive feelings, feelings drive your actions, right?
So when you, when you feel afraid like i am of that spider i respond in a negative way like legitimately.

[17:12] It wasn't pretty. My daughter hid a spider in between pages of my book, and I reached for the book, and when I touched that spider, my brain immediately knew what it was, and it was a very loud and boisterous scream that was her name because said child was still living at home, And so my actions were not edifying.
It was not a good thing. But back to my student, right?
So when I changed how I was thinking about the day, the actions actually changed.
I am very excited to announce this next part of our journey together.
Once a month, on a Thursday evening, I'm going to do a segment called Ask the Dementia Coach, where you can actually come into a coaching session with me and other people.

[18:14] Music.
The reason I'm doing this is because I know so many of you guys are struggling on your own and may feel like you're at the end of your rope.
And in order to help serve you better, I wanted to open up this opportunity once a month for you to register for a free Ask the Dementia Coach segment.
Like I said, it will be Thursday evenings, once a month, six o'clock Eastern time in the evening.
And the segment is called Ask the Dementia Coach.
So if you're interested in signing up for that, the link will be in the show notes below.
I look forward to seeing you on one of these special sessions.
So the third point is, because our thoughts can drive our feelings, our feelings drive our actions, our actions will drive our results of caregiving.
How do I get off of this particular episode?
Well, the reality of the matter is a person living with dementia, as they are going through a dementia process.

[18:15] If they register for the same time so you can feel what it feels like to actually have dementia coaching.

[19:40] They start to lose what we in the medical field call the executive functions.
So I want you to picture an onion, right?
And the outer layers of the onion are the higher level thinking skills.
What are these kinds of things? Well, they are things like management of time or anticipating consequences of things or being able to plan and organize.
These are the higher level skills that we develop at the end of our developmental process as our brain is fully formed.
Well, one of these is emotional regulation, regulation, the ability to be able to control your own emotions, right?
And so when a person living with dementia doesn't have the ability to control their own emotions anymore, they will take on the emotional energy from people around them.
So every human, when we're having a hard day controlling our emotions will take on the energy of the emotions of the people around us. So for example.

[20:56] I want you now to consider that you are having a very tough day in your caregiving journey.
You are super, super stressed.
And because you're super, super stressed, you're actually a little short, even though you don't notice it.
Your tone is maybe a little crisper or you're just fast in trying to get the person to do things.
And you are stressed and they are sensing your stress and then whoosh, you have a bad day because the person living with dementia is feeling your emotional energy and your stress and your difficulty because you're having a hard day.
And they have these quote-unquote challenging behaviors.

[21:49] Maybe pacing up and down, or they're trying to shadow you because they can sense that you're upset and they want to be close by, but everything in your emotional jar, your feelings, are actually making things worse related to your caregiving journey.

Emotional Regulation

[22:08] Yet again, an example that I have from my own life with my parents.
I was the evil child that took the car away.
And my dad, quite rightfully, was grieving a loss.
And I wasn't quite recognizing because I'm extremely task-oriented.

[22:26] I'm extremely, you know, do the next thing, do the next thing, do the next thing.
And I would not frame myself before I went into the house when we had first taken the car away.
And my dad would be so angry at me.
And I would just go into the emotional thing and whoosh, we would have this huge, huge blow up fight every single time, every single time.
But if I arrived at their house, and I sat in the car a couple of minutes before going in, instead of just running in and being normal, Lisette, you know, if I just sat in the car and said to myself, your dad's upset, he's lost the car, this is a loss for him, you cannot respond to his emotional baggage that he's going to let out because he's frustrated, he's angry, you cannot respond in the same way because it's just going to make it worse.
If I did that and I spent a couple of minutes in the car before going in, and then I'd walk in.

[23:42] I was able to totally reframe the entire episode that we had so it didn't go into a blow-up mode because I was in control of my emotions because, you know, my thoughts controlled my emotions. I thought it through.
I thought about the fact that he was going to be upset with me.
I thought about what I was going to feel, that I wasn't going to get angry.
And that resulted in my action being able to be calm, being able to be way more understanding and empathetic to my dad, which resulted in our episode not being a knock-down, drag-out fight, right?
So what are three things, three practical tips for you today, dear brother and sister in Christ, if you are listening today and you are struggling with your own thoughts, creating these negative emotions or these difficult emotions that you're coming through that results in your actions being less than kind or empathetic or caring because you are stressed?

[25:11] What are three things that you can do immediately today to turn the Titanic around? So.

Reframing Negative Thoughts

[25:22] Three things. If you are having, and you can do this for positive thoughts too, but when you are having negative thoughts, you have to, it's a very easy three-step process.

[25:37] Did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard?
If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop.

[25:51] I invite you to walk away with science-backed dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop.
If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.
The first thing is you have to catch yourself immediately when it happens.
You need to catch that thought. And then you have to challenge yourself that that thought is not a true thing.
It doesn't have to be that way. So challenge that negative thought and then change it.
So catch it, challenge it, and then change it.
And if you start to actually catch those negative thoughts and reframe them into a more positive, and I'm not talking about toxic positivity, right?
Just being like the total opposite of what you're thinking.

[27:09] But just try to turn it and reframe it into a positive. Find something positive.
Positive about your situation. Stop the negative thinking and turn your eyes on Christ because he is in control of the situation.
He can help you change your thinking. The Holy Spirit can change our emotional thoughts, our emotional responses to this just by praying and thinking through it.
So I want to encourage you today, you can change how you think about caregiving.
You can change your actions around how you are interacting with the person living with dementia.

[27:59] Yes, I'm going to be real, it is not easy, and it is a constant battle, because we are human, And we are all sinners.
And I don't know about you, but I sin in thought, word, and deed every single day, right?
And so the best thing you can do is just acknowledge that, that you're a sinner.
Acknowledge that thought that you have about the person you're caring with, your situation, whatever it is, and slowly turn those thoughts, catch them, challenge them that they're not normal, and then change them.
And slowly over time, you will notice that these three practical tips and and tricks will help you actually experience less stress in your dementia caregiving journey.
If you are truly struggling, I do invite you to my free Ask the Dementia Coach session.
It is tomorrow, April 25th at 6 p.m. Eastern.
So you still have time to register and sign up for a free coaching session.

[29:18] The purpose behind that is so that I can serve you in a much deeper and more meaningful way, but you have to register because otherwise there's no way for me to get you the Zoom room.
So please, if you're struggling today, if you're struggling with your own thoughts about dementia caregiving, remember you are not alone and register for the free Ask the Dementia Coach coach session tomorrow, Thursday, April 25th at 6 p.m.
And like I end all of my broadcasts and my shows now, I ask you that the Lord bless you and keep you and that you come back and listen to more episodes, like, subscribe, and share these.
That means a lot to me. Um, I will see you in the next episode.

[30:17] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve you.
You can serve me by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and join our free Facebook group, Dementia Caregiving for Families.
It's a positive and proactive space to navigate dementia caregiving together.
Get practical tools and find support, but without the verbal vomit.
Be a part of our community where we seek to find peace of mind and ease despite the dementia diagnosis.
So join today and see you next time as our flight takes off.

Subscribe To Dementia Caregiving For Families Podcast

If you feel like dementia caregiving is hard and unpredictable and you are struggling to help a spouse or a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop.

Join our Facebook Group at: 

Become a  Member of Our Exclusive Program!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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