Donna McCullough, PhD iis a clinical psychologist in private practice in Orange County, CA. She has a passion for helping people transcend their limitations, awaken to their authenticity, and to live more joyously. In addition to practicing traditional psycho-therapy (Cognitive-Behavior therapy, ACT) Donna incorporates spiritual approaches and philosophies into her work, including mindful awareness, meditation, and other techniques that help people move out of habitual ways of responding to their lives and tap into a deeper wisdom. Donna has offices in Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo. She can be reached at (949) 246-7724 or donnamccullough@cox.net.

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"Well, hello there! I am so happy to see you! I love you and honor you for all you do. You are special to me."

Imagine how it would be if everywhere you went, everyone you encountered spoke to you this way. Whether you have just arrived home or just arrived at work, imagine how you would feel being greeted this way. Would you not feel great? Could you not handle whatever task lies in front of you with more ease and grace?

When we stop and think about it, why don't we talk to each other this way? Do we, in fact, talk to ourselves this way? Have you ever noticed the thoughts about yourself going around inside your head? Most of us run an internal dialogue that at times sounds like this: Gee, I could be doing better a... I'm really bad at ... Well, that was a stupid thing to say. We don't mean to be so hard on ourselves, but more often than not we are more judgmental of ourselves and others than we like to admit.

This kind of thinking leads to fatigue, depression, and low energy. If you are a caregiver, the last thing you need is more stress and strain. But what if we chose to pay attention to how we are talking to ourselves? What if we decided to talk to ourselves in tender, loving words?

There is an unlimited amount of energy inside of you. When you open your heart and choose to release limiting thoughts, you will feel better and have more energy. No matter what is going on in your life, you can choose to be kind and gentle with yourself. Even if everything is going wrong today, and the person in your care is really pressing you to your limits, change your focus from what is wrong. Give yourself a verbal pat on the back and say to yourself, I am doing the best that I can with this difficult situation.

The first step in making this change is to notice what you are currently saying to yourself. Since most of what we think is automatic, this requires effort and focus. It can be helpful to put up sticky notes (on the fridge, the steering wheel, etc.) or to wear a bracelet to remind you to notice your thoughts. When you notice that what you are saying to yourself is negative, you have the opportunity to change your thoughts to more uplifting ones.

Giving yourself positive messages can help you recharge when you are feeling overwhelmed. As a caregiver, you are doing an important job, but you must first fill your own cup before you have anything to give to another person. Always remember that you are a source of love in the life of the person in your charge. Love is a powerful healer.