Think, Do, Be Positive!

By Holly Whiteside,

When I was a kid, one of my role models was Horton the elephant, from Dr. Seuss. His phrase, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant – an elephant’s faithful, one-hundred percent!” became my childhood mantra. Only later in life did I grasp the more subtle message, that I need to choose my meanings carefully.

When we communicate, in speaking and listening, we share meaning. In fact, in caregiving I came to realize that the words that I spoke (to myself and others,) and what I was listening for gave me my experience of caregiving.

So, let’s take a minute to look at an aspect of communication that determines your well-being in caregiving:

How to speak to create well-being “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”

– Charles Swindoll

Imagine yourself visiting your loved one in the hospital. You are walking down the hallway when you overhear two people talking. One of them points at a nurse coming down the hall and tells her friend, “That one has a lousy attitude.” Later, you meet that nurse in your loved one’s room. Do you feel good about her caring for your loved one? When we speak we create realities, both for ourselves and for those around us. And those around us, in turn, create experiences for us. Like fish swimming in a communal fish bowl, we each create our own experience and that of others.

We are constantly being infected by others. Does someone you know speak in a way that deflates you or drains your energy? How do you feel after listening to the TV news? Or perhaps you have a friend who is prone to saying things like, “I’m having the most horrible day!” or “You won’t believe what she said to me!” By one way of thinking, you are being invited to join in “awfulizing.” When someone is being negative or hyper-critical, I’ve been know to say, “Hey! Stop pooping in the fish bowl.”

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Think, Do, Be Positive! originally appeared on

It is easy to think of ways in which the words of others affect us, but what about the way our own thoughts and words affect how we are feeling? If you say “caregiving is hard,” do you mean you are committed to it being hard? How does your feeling about it shift when you say “Caregiving is a challenge”? Consider the way you “share” about caregiving with your siblings, friends, or family. We use words to describe feelings, but words also generate feelings, so choose ethem carefully. Or think about the words you use when you’re just thinking about caregiving at four in the morning. Those words that run through you create your caregiving experience.

While many forms of communication in ordinary life can seem recreational, (commonly called “sharing”) caregiving is not ordinary life. Your energy and attitude are to be safeguarded at all costs. Of course there will be times when you need to vent, but use them carefully. Set yourself a time limit. Then move on to more constructive forms of communication that are sourced by your commitment to caregiving. One of your mantras for caregiving could be, “If I’m going to make something up, make it good.”

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Think, Do, Be Positive! originally appeared on

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

thanks for sharing

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V.3 years ago

Very nice article

Cecily Pretty
Cecily P.3 years ago


J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago

thought provoking

Marianne Barto
MARIA B.3 years ago

Wow. I never heard the word "awfulizing" before, or the expression"'stop pooping in the fishbowl". What does that mean? I can't imagine doing that in a fishbowl' sorry

Marianne Barto
MARIA B.3 years ago

Holly, have you ever been in the sandwich generation? It means, raising your kids, let's say teenagers, with all their problems, then your elderly parents become ill, and need your help. What if on top of this you have a job? Been there. Believe me when I say. it is difficult to stay "positive", caring, etc. The true fact is that it is stressful and frustrating. Please talk to others and how they dealt with it. Everything is easy to say, but hard to do...try it.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton3 years ago

"My former boss would take our lunch hour to talk about all the poop that goes on at our job very exhausting"

That proves my point. Soooo...exhaustion was the "reaction". And how is that "thinking, doing and being positive"?

irene fernandez
irene Fernandez3 years ago

What we need to remember is that WE must be the one to create OUR OWN experience. As hard as it is - and maybe the older you get the harder it gets too - consciously or not we are the one who choose with what grounds we live any experience.
My former boss would take our lunch hour to talk about all the poop that goes on at our job very exhausting

Jane Barton
Jane Barton3 years ago

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”

Another illogical "saying" that doesn't go far enough. The thing to FOCUS on is WHY do we react the way we do? The answer is childhood brainwashing. Humans are just like all animals, they mimic how their parents and other people in their environment ACT and REACT. It's been scientifically proven that birds learn to sing from their PARENTS. WHO ELSE COULD THEY LEARN FROM? If your childhood training, i.e. brainwashing is PREJUDGING, ABUSIVE and ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR, then it very HARD to suddenly
just "be happy", "be positive" and "open up". This is new age BS. The first thing we can do that is positive is run from death obsessed, draconian "religions" that have you living in fear, shame and guilt and threaten you every time you turn around and constantly SUCK MONEY OUT OF YOU. Forget about imaginary gods and fairy Allah and LIVE A GOOD LIFE!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton3 years ago

"words are very powerful"

Words are like beauty, they are in the eyes of the beholder. Words are very powerful to the weak minded but to the strong, there is that old saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but WORDS CAN NEVER HURT ME". Isn't it obvious that this moldy saying doesn't apply to EVERYBODY?