Have you heard the saying, “Talking to yourself is OK as long as you don’t expect a response”? Most of us do it, and I believe that self-talk is particularly prevalent among caregivers.
I am an audible self-talker, whispering declarations and questions to no one in particular. And I’ll admit that I sometimes answer myself. Maybe you are also an audible processor, which is a sanitized way of saying you talk to yourself. As long as you’re telling yourself the right things, then that’s OK.
Psychology Today defines self-talk as “an inner voice that provides a running monologue throughout the day and even into the night.”
Everyone has an inner voice. Sometimes that voice is positive; at other times, not so much.
Overwhelmed by the duties involved in caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, caregivers can be very hard on themselves. Their inner monologue is continually chatting about one thing or another. The constancy of caregiving lends itself to self-criticism. Ask yourself what positive thoughts have crossed your mind today, particularly as they relate to the great job that you’re doing.
It’s human nature
The chances are that your self-talk is more negative than positive. The brain processes the activities of the day, and our failings rise to the top, as the voice from within “combines conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases.” Dealing with all of the challenges that come with Alzheimer’s disease can exacerbate those beliefs and biases.
According to Psychology Today, we are “prone to negative self-talk.” Instead of speaking words of encouragement, our minds turn to the tiny failures, the actions we should have taken, or the poor decisions we’ve made.
If they could, the person for whom you provide care would thank you for every action taken on their behalf. They would say to you what you should be telling yourself: “Stop the negativity. You’re doing great.”
Reprogram your inner voice
Learn to recognize negative self-talk. Instead of running yourself down for making mistakes, remember that everyone makes errors. Include self-help in your self-talk. Help yourself to a more positive outlook by using edifying language and kind words. How you speak to yourself matters. What is the verbal loop that continues to run through your head? Replaying the same negative diatribe is detrimental to you and the caregiving process. It is a form of wallowing, and what caregiver has time for that?
Adjusting thought processes would make a positive difference to you and your loved one.
Negative self-talk could be a sign of deep sadness or depression. Speak with a professional if you find yourself steeped in negativity and unable to strike a balance between self-help and self-talk. A qualified counselor will help you to transition to more positive inner conversations.
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” — Proverbs 23:7
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s Disease.
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