Feeding Your Mind

Caregivers often struggle with unhelpful and negative thoughts during their caregiving process that affects them in various ways. Some examples include:


  • "I'm not doing a good job."
  • "I should try harder."
  • "The treatment is not going well. Something must be wrong."
  • "What will happen to me or my family if my loved one passes away?"
  • "It is my fault that he/she is feeling this way."
  • "Bad things always happen to me."
As a caregiver, ask yourself what are some of the unhelpful thoughts that frequently occupy your mind.
How do your thoughts control you, and how to they interact with other parts of yourself? Imagine this scenario with your eyes closed.

“You are walking down the street and you see someone you know on the other side. You smile and wave, but the person does not seem to notice you and keeps on walking.” 

What are your initial (automatic) thoughts? What emotions are present? How might you behave afterwards?


  • It is not the event/situation itself, but our interpretation about it that determines our thoughts, mood and subsequent behaviour
  • If we change our interpretation about the event, we can change the way we feel and react to the event

Sometimes, our thoughts can be inaccurate and unhelpful so you don't have to believe them. Here are some commom unhelpful thinking habits we all make from time to time.

Challenge your unhelpful thoughts by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Where is the evidence or proof that my thoughts/beliefs are true?
  • Am I only noticing the bad stuff and overlooking the positive?
  • Am I exaggerating the bad things?
  • Are there facts that I’ve been overlooking or ignoring?
  • Am I assuming what others are thinking?
  • What other explanations could there possibly be?
  • How realistic are my thoughts or beliefs?
  • Are there other ways of viewing the situation?
  • Even if there is some truth to my thoughts, how helpful is it for me to continue thinking like this?

Now that you've identified your unhelpful thoughts, learn to replace them with alternative, more balanced thoughts. Here are some examples:

Unhelpful Thoughts Balanced, Alternative Thoughts
Critical - I am doing such a bad job and my loved one is angry with me. I am doing my best. He/she must be having a hard time as well and does not mean it.
Compare & Despair - Why do other patients seem to be getting better and not my loved one? Everybody has their good and bad days, treatment is not the same for everybody.
Shoulds & Musts - I should be available 24 hours a day and I must be able to help whenever he/she needs me. Nobody can be available all the time; it is ok for me to take a rest.
Black & White Thinking - If he/she is not well, there is no way we can have a normal family life. He/she may not be in the best of health, but we can still do things together as a family.
Catastrophising - Oh dear, he/she is having a cough, something must be wrong. I'd better send him/her to the hospital immediately. It may not be anything serious. I'll not jump to conclusions and will investigate it calmly and properly.

Eliminate Negative Thinking!


Through practicing these cognitive strategies, you can reduce the impact of negative and unhelpful thoughts on your behaviour and mood.

By looking at your thoughts rationally and calmly, you can then choose your actions in line with your values rather than letting unhelpful automatic thoughts control your life. 

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