28 Simple Practices for Inspired Influencers, Part 4
Today, our focus is on Practices 21-28. For those of you just jumping in, this is our 4th week together unpacking a set of 28 simple practices designed for each and every one of us, no matter how we show up as a partner in care – whether we offer care to ourselves alone or exchange care with others. Your job, as you dig into these, is to apply what you read here during the week and notice what comes up along the way. If you are just joining us, you might want to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the series first.
If you haven’t already, please like our Facebook page, as these practices will be posted there each week too. This makes it so easy for you to share them far and wide – don’t hold back! And…to learn more about supporting our goals for GivingTuesday (December 3) this year, click here.
PRACTICE #21: (Monday, November 25) Make it meaningful. One size does not fit all. If we are practicing care that puts the person first, then our acts of care must be meaningful to that person. We have something called the Eden Alternative Test that helps us infuse activities and engagement with personal meaning. You can even apply this tool to yourself! Before you move ahead, ask:
- Is it close? Is it something this person can really engage in and experience? Is it something that is relevant to them, that they actually want to do (not just what we want them to do)?
- Is it continuous? Is it consistent enough that the relationships involved can deepen and grow? Is it present enough in this person’s life to become a part of their natural rhythm of daily life?
- Does it promote growth? Does it build on existing strengths? Is it flexible enough to accommodate changing strengths? Does it offer opportunities for this person to actively give as well as receive?
PRACTICE #22: (Tuesday, November 26) Focus only on what’s essential. When medical treatment becomes a necessity for you or for someone you care for, work with your medical team to keep it simple.
Advocate for yourself or for your care partner by asking the following questions: Is this medication absolutely essential for my health and well-being? How might it work with or work against the other medications I am currently taking? Are there any potential alternative therapies that I could try in lieu of taking this medication? For example, are drugs being used to address loneliness, helplessness, or boredom, instead of first seeking opportunities for companionship, or creating ways for someone to give as well as receive, or experimenting with spontaneity and variety?
At The Eden Alternative, we say that treatment should be the servant of care, never its master. Think about how your care partner team can work together in empowered ways to successfully strike this balance.
PRACTICE #23: (Wednesday, November 27) Discern care from treatment. If I were to ask you right now how you define care, what would you say? Based on our experience, a large percentage of people would respond that care involves medical treatment, specifically when someone is sick or injured. If care is just that… treatment, then what about those of us who don’t need treatment? Does this mean that we don’t need care? I don’t know about you, but I don’t require treatment right now, and I REALLY need care.
At The Eden Alternative, we define care as helping another to grow. Care is about thriving. What makes you thrive and are you getting enough of it? What makes someone else whom you care for thrive? Ask yourself: What do I need on a regular basis to feel like I’m experiencing care? What helps you grow? Explore the same for someone you care for? What helps them grow? Consider the many different packages that care comes in. Think out of the box and continue to expand your perceptions of what care means to you and those people you support.
PRACTICE #24: (Thursday, November 28) Consider the whole Human Being. Traditional approaches to care tend to focus heavily on the needs of the human body. The game changes, however, when we start framing conversations about care and support around seven simple concepts: identity, connectedness, security, autonomy, meaning, growth and joy. These are the Eden Alternative Domains of Well-BeingSM, and they are each deeply relevant to each of us, no matter who we are, what abilities we live with, or how old we are.
What’s so powerful about the Domains of Well-being is how they bring us back to our own experience of what it means to be human. They personalize our understanding of what true care is by helping us reflect on what we each hold dear. As care partner teams, we can use these Domains of Well-being to ask thoughtful, focused questions that help us discover the unmet needs of the people we support. List the Domains and ask yourself how well each Domain is being met in your own life. Now work side-by-side with someone.
PRACTICE #25: (Friday, November 29) Hear the voices. Honor the choices. Feeling powerless can bring up so many different feelings… outrage, panic, fear, cynicism, or even resignation. As partners in care, we need to make every effort to honor the voice and choice of the person we support.
If you are currently not relying on the support of others… take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine not feeling in control of the choices that mark the flow of your daily life… when you eat, when you sleep, when you wake, when you can or can’t go outdoors and feel the sun on your face, what you watch or do or experience. And then there are the bigger questions… like how you will experience and direct the course of your life going forward.
Listen carefully to the preferences, hopes, dreams, and desires of the person you support. Make sure you are not projecting your own needs and intentions onto theirs. Make space for and empower their choices. Autonomy is about personhood. Without our autonomy, we cannot feel ourselves or sense into our own existence.
PRACTICE #26: (Saturday, November 30) Find the flow. In Practice #12, we talked about identifying what works right now for the person we support and to build on it. We call this building on strengths, (rather than on deficits). The same applies when we work together as a care partner team. As a team, we, too, want to build on each other’s strengths to find that sweet spot where teamwork feels easier and more satisfying. By building on each other’s strengths, you find “your flow” together. This goes for employees, family members, and the people you support – you are all members of the team. And when the team is in the flow, it works smarter, not harder. As a team, discuss the existing strengths on the team and how to leverage them. You may also want a plan for adapting to changing strengths over time.
PRACTICE #27: (Sunday, December 1) Nurture yourself first. You’ve heard it before… put the oxygen mask on you first. While this adage is a little worn out, it nails a key point about effective care partnership – your self-care is crucial to the well-being of the people you support. What are your go-to self-care practices? Make a list of them. Then, note how often you indulge in each one. Is that number low or even non-existent? Is your calendar too full to make it happen? Try this… at the beginning of each month, block out daily self-care time FIRST. Then, schedule everything else around it. Revolutionary, right? Let’s face it. We simply cannot fill anyone else’s cup when ours is empty. What fills your cup? Now, fill it to the brim.
PRACTICE #28: (Monday, December 2) Notice what moves you. In anything we do in life, there are these moments that rise to the top… moments that remind us why we do what we do every day. Just like fireflies in a jar, they call on us to pause and take in the wonder. Our care partnerships create these moments… our job is not to miss them. Consider keeping a journal of what moves you, as you connect with others in caring ways. Notice those moments that fill your soul, teach you something new about yourself or life, or even transform you. Yes, care partnering can bring us both joys and sorrows. They are each a piece of the truth. Hold a space for the whole experience, and avoid getting stuck in the tragedy narrative. It really can be different….
Revisit Practices #1-6 in Part 1 of this 4-blog series.
Revisit Practices #4-13 in Part 2 of this 4-blog series.
Revisit Practices #14-20 in Part 3 of this 4-blog series.
Donate today to our #GivingTuesday campaign or “Text to Give” by sending “Edenalt” to 44321.