The Benefits of Resilience in Caregiving and In Life
By Pamela D Wilson MS, BS/BA, CSA, NCG
Resilience is a learned skill that allows us to “bounce back” when things don’t go our way; a flat tire, an argument with a family member, a parent or loved one who refuses help, an unexpected medical diagnoses, a client who tells us we did not meet their expectations, a friend who always asks for help but who never gives, the leaky sink in the kitchen that never seems to be repaired and the long list of “to dos” that we never quite seem to complete.
In writing my book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, I met many others who told me that they also wanted to write a book. We all have a book, or maybe several books, waiting to be written.
The question is—what motivates a person to carry through with the desire to write a book? And even more, what is the goal of writing the book? Personal satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, to educate and inform, to leave a family history, to achieve expert status, to become an author; there are many different motivations for writing a book. So why write a book?
As many of you know, I wrote, hosted, and produced a radio program on 630 KHOW-AM Clear Channel in Denver, called The Caring Generation, from May of 2009 to December of 2011. For me this was a wonderful experience that helped me become a better author and speaker. Many of my listeners asked the question: do you have a book, where is your book? The time involved in producing the weekly radio program ensured that I certainly did not have time to write or finish the book I had been writing for nearly 10 years.
My roadblock was that while I knew what the book was about and had hundreds of written pages, I did not have an outline or flow of information that made sense, at least to me. My radio listeners provided the motivation to end the radio program and get serious about finishing the book. Nearly 3 ½ years later through a long journey of resilience, the book is finished.
I recently came across an article in Time Magazine on June 1st called “Bounce Back,” that reconfirmed much of what I have already come to know about resilience. Many of these aspects came into play during the completion of my book and are helpful in all areas of life. Let me share my challenges and then offer insights into aspects of resilience that may be helpful for you.
Aspects of creating the book that were challenging for me:
- An editor who returned the book to me so “edited” that I didn’t recognize my own writing; resulting in my spending another eight months re-writing the version she provide to me
- Caregivers who expressed concern that the title of the book, The Caregiving Trap, was “too negative”
- Discussions about the type size of the book; the galley proof type was so small I could barely read the copy!
- Readers who liked or disliked the end of chapter Tales
- Deliberating over aspects of the book cover design both front and back; after all readers decide in 3 seconds if they will pick up a book or walk past it on the shelf
- And a long list of other people all with opinions about what information should or not appear in the book and how the information should appear
- The lead time to plan and to build a platform for the book. It’s easy to write a book, more difficult to find a publisher and even more challenging to sell a single copy! This activity does take years, many more years that anyone imagines unless of course you are already a celebrity.
Tips for resilience that I use and that might be helpful to you in your daily life:
- Everyone has an opinion. Book publishers know the book business. I know the caregiving business because I live it daily with my career and in my personal life. This knowledge allowed me to be firm about my set of beliefs related to caregiving and the content of the book. I did not allow the editor to sway my decision to publish my book and not her book.
- Finding meaning in challenges. Publishing the book is and was a daily exercise in my own personal resilience. When I received the editor’s copy I was angry that she took my writing and scrambled it into a thousand unrecognizable pieces. So angry, that I put away the manuscript and I wrote (but did not send) a “hate letter to the editor” for nearly 90 days. On day ninety-one I decided that there must be something good about the editor’s version. Rather than beginning with the manuscript copy prior to submitting it to the editor, I used her manuscript to re-create and to re-write my book to again make it mine and feel good about the end result.
- Be quick to reach out to others for support. I received negative feedback about the title of the book from an individual involved in the book development process who was also a caregiver. To reconfirm my belief in the title, I took the book cover and showed it to colleagues in different specialties of life. No one objected to the title, in fact many nodded their heads in agreement. I dismissed any idea of changing the title. In showing the printed copy to caregivers and care recipients at an event in June of this year, I received no negative comments only more nodding heads.
- Frequent exercise supports a resilient mind. Research shows that exercise builds new neurons in the brain that also supports learning new information and new skills. As I move through the promotional aspects of the book launch, I continually learn from experts in publicity about the best methods to promote the book and I realize that there are so many things that I still do not know about book publishing and promotion. I am relying on these experts to support and to teach me.
- Meditation or mindfulness. These practices support the mind and body to quickly return to a state of regularity after experiencing upsetting or traumatic experiences. I began the daily activity of meditation several years ago. This allows me to embrace new information that at times seems daunting and to place the information in perspective.
- Recognize what makes you uniquely strong and be that person. I’ve learned over the years that there are many things I don’t know. The information that I do know relative to caregiving through many years of personal experience I stand by. I have developed a strong sense of ethics and core beliefs that I do not stray from under any circumstances. This provides me with peace of mind in situations where others challenge my beliefs.
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