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Welcome to this online journal for caregivers to the dying or bereaved—important and challenging work, for sure! My goal is to support you by providing inspirational thoughts, pertinent resources, and suggestions for self-care. With appreciation for all you do!

- Rebecca Hauder

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Use Imagery in Tense Situations

Use Imagery in Tense Situations

September 11, 2018

“Change your mental imagery, and the feelings will take care of themselves.”  ~Maxwell Maltz

Have you ever taken care of someone whose emotional intensity caused you to feel anxious? Not knowing what to say or do, you might secretly have wished you could escape the situation somehow! Yet, you realized the other person needed you to be there with them. Maybe they were distraught about their declining health, upset with their physician or family member, or weeping uncontrollably because of a loss.

In situations like these, I sometimes use imagery to help create the emotional distance I need. Then I am more likely to stay calm and emotionally present with the other. Here are a couple of imagery exercises you might try (the tree one is my favorite), or you can make up your own!

1) Picture yourself as a deeply rooted tree with branches and leaves. Now imagine the other persons words and emotions blowing the branches and leaves and shaking them. Notice your trunk standing solid and steady, however--unaffected by the "storm.”

2) Imagine a picket fence between you and the other. You can still see and hear each other, but there is enough distance between you to create a sense of emotional safety.  

Imagery exercises taken from the book Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson Ph.D., 2009.

Until Next Time,  Rebecca Hauder, R.N., LCPC

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