The keynote speaker at the Women’s Food Service Forum Conference yesterday morning was Dr. Ivan Joseph. He talked about being terrified when he went from being a soccer coach at a small university in Iowa to being the Director of Athletics at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.

Knowing that self-confidence was going to be critical to his success, he wrote a “personal brag letter” to himself. He said congratulating himself for the things he had already accomplished made him feel confident that he would be able to manage the responsibilities of this new position. When he was feeling insecure or vulnerable, he would pull out that letter and remind himself that he had the ability to do what needed to be done. Dr. Joseph knew that repeating three positive affirmations a day can actually rewire his brain, so every day he would mentally tell himself, “You’ve got this. You’ve got this. You’ve got this.”

I had never tied self-confidence to caregiving before I heard Dr. Joseph speak, but I do think that when a caregiver gets up in the morning and tells herself, “I can do this” or “I will get through this” that she is sending a powerful message to her brain. Our brain will believe what we tell it. So if we tell ourselves that we have the strength, courage and ability to handle any situation, we will find it, even when the game changes and we need a different plan.

What you are doing is hard. Trust that as you go through this, you will have the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual strength you’ll need to make the tough decisions and do what’s best for both of you.