This spring, I drove to Tucson to direct a church choir for the weekend. I live in Phoenix, 2 hours away, and was starting to get used to the heavy truck traffic on Route 10. One truck barreled by me, close and threatening. My first reaction was, “Watch out! What are you doing?” Then as I traveled forward, I saw that the truck had moved out of a lane to avoid hitting another driver who’d had an accident. So my second reaction was, “What a careful, thoughtful driver.” It was a complete change of state for me, from feeling frustrated to feeling thankful, because I changed my perspective.
Sometimes I don’t know what motivates the actions of a person with Alzheimer’s. My first reaction might be, “Watch out! What are you doing?” But when I think about that someone as a person who is navigating the world with less ability to explain his or her actions, I realize it’s *my* turn to create a careful, thoughtful answer for that person’s actions. It’s a change of state for *me*, from feeling frustrated to feeling thankful for this person, staying active in life, doing his or her best to make choices about life.
Safety is a consideration, but often a person is just trying to figure out what’s happening today, and what he or she is supposed to be doing to engage in this day.
When I change my perspective, it expands my ability to give support to people, rather than acting from frustrated energy, or trying to change someone. the energy I bring to the day affects me, him or her, and those around us. I like creating the place in myself where I can give respectful, generous energy and attention to another. It benefits both of us.