Do you remember way back before social distancing was a thing? Just to prompt your recall, join me on a little trip down memory lane. It’s good not to forget since one day we might actually return to those days when we did not give any thought to hanging out and crowding close to each other.
Does sheltering in place put added pressure on your family? Are your family relationships subject to increased jeopardy? Is your family at heightened risk? The answers to all of these questions is, “It depends.” It depends on how well you personally handle the added stress and how conscientiously you attend to the pressures and stresses on your family relationships. The episode includes some tips and perspectives that you may find helpful.
We are all under a lot of pressure these days in addition to the virus itself. Those extra stresses may include economic as well as emotional. Just having to shelter in place and social distance when we do leave home are definitely not normal and only add to our sense of uncertainty and anxiousness.
We each know how the situation effects us and have some idea about how it is effecting others in our families. What we may not think about is how much pressure current circumstances are putting on our relationships, especially our relationships with our significant others. Even solid adult relationships can give in to the pressure if we aren’t very careful. For that reason, I am sharing an episode focusing on long-term relationships and those things we need to remember and give the special attention they deserve. It takes about an hour.
Even if you are still leaving home to go to work, your activities are probably quite restricted. There is a long list of things you can’t do and places you can’t go. That means that you are spending more time in close proximity to your family. And being closer to each other does not necessarily lead to more closeness. It’s perhaps even more likely that you are working from home or – worse yet – without a job. The result is that you spend most all of your time with your family.
Can you relate to this? My parents have been gone for several years; but when they were still alive, I loved them dearly but definitely would not have wanted to live with them. Had it been necessary, we would have worked it out; but living together is not something either they or I would have chosen. The same holds for my adult children and for their children, for that matter. My family is special to me; but living with them on a 24-hour basis sound like a prescription for trouble.
But this is a time of little to no choice. That’s why we are sharing some tips for getting along when there is not much opportunity to get apart.
Our tips start with some wisdom that has been around forever. It says that it’s not what we love about each other that helps us get along, but is what we are willing to put up with from each other. What we love about each other is why we want to get along to start with. What we are willing to put up with from each other is what keeps us from blowing up or walking out. But when we can’t get some distance from each other or time away, putting up with what we have been just putting up with can get very hard to handle. Putting up with it – whatever it is – on a 24-hour, 7 days a week basis can stress the limits of tolerance and sensitivity for the best of us. What we just put up with before is now way over the top, even for us. …
How many people do you know who are part-time when it comes to respect. They pick and choose who and when for what respect they can muster. I just hope that you are not a part-timer. Listen to hear how it works.
In these uncommon times, relating well to others on and off line is more important than ever. Stress is high and people aren’t always at their best. This makes it essential that we do our best to be our best when interacting with others. Expanding our range of tolerance is a good place for each of us to start.
How much better would your world be if other people just understood that you seldom intend to say or do whatever is annoying or frustrating them? Let’s think about how that might work.
People seldom intend to be jerks. I think we have all had to deal with someone who is just being a jerk. They are being difficult and impossible to cope with due to their seeming to be stupid, insensitive, hopelessly self-centered or clueless, or maybe all of the above. But are we ever the jerk in the picture? We sure don’t intend to be the jerk but we probably have our jerk moments, at least from the perspective of other people. As reasonable and as appropriate as we try to be, even nice people like us may slip into jerk mode at times.
People seldom intend to do less than their best. Do they always make an effort to do everything they can do as well as they can do it? No, people surely don’t do that. Rather, they usually make their best effort to do as much as they think is necessary and to do it as well as they think it needs done. The problem is that we may not agree that they have done enough or done it as well as we needed it done. Our issue is that we wanted more or better. From our perspective, the other person could have and should have done more or done better. It seems to us that we haven’t gotten his or her best effort. We have to deal with a shirker, with someone who is lazy or is sloppy and half does things. Of course we always give everything we do our best effort, always do things correctly and completely – or do we?
What would you never say to your five-year-old? It’s hard to say exactly what goes on your list but I suspect that things on your never say list all have a negative or critical tone or message tucked in there. I doubt that any of us would tell our five-year-old that he or she is stupid, ugly, lazy, in the way, too much bother, or anything else implying that the child is not valued or not okay. At least I hope none of us would relate to or respond to a child in ways like that.
Even so, there is definitely another side to that coin. Our five-year-old certainly needs feedback, and sometimes, that feed back needs to be negative or critical. Children need to learn how to do things and how to behave. They also need to learn how not to do things and how not to behave. They require guidance, coaching and the opportunity to take advantage of our experience, awareness and judgment. They also have to occasionally deal with a firm and unequivocal “No!” The issue isn’t whether they should receive our guidance and feedback – they should. Rather the issue is how and when that guidance and feedback should be forthcoming.
You may be thinking that I’m about to offer some advice about how you should or should not go about providing guidance and feedback to children. Not this time. Instead, I want to share with you my father’s first principle for offering guidance and feedback to me growing up. As much as I have read about and studied child development and parenting over the years, I have never come across any childhood scholar or parenting expert who even mentioned Dad’s first principle, little lone recommending it. Nonetheless, I think you may find it worth your consideration.
It’s time for a magic minute. Today’s tip shows us the key to those special relationships that we hope will last a very long time, if not forever. If you adopt the tip for yourself, good things will nearly always follow.
For John O’Brien, his hope was that we may care enough to love enough to share enough to let others become what they can be; but how do we do this at home, at work, and in the context of our other important relationships? Consider the following strategies. They may or may not work equally well for all of us; but they are definitely worth considering.
Cooperation: Emphasize a helpful, supportive approach to all of your relationships and activities with other people.
Bertrand Russell said, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” You likely will want to set your sights a little less grandly than redeeming mankind; but you nonetheless get the idea. Cooperation is definitely the way to go and helping others is one of the best ways to get there. What’s more, Charles Dudley promises added benefits for you if you are helpful and supportive with other people, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Now, that certainly sounds like the real deal, don’t you think?
Loyalty: Emphasize accommodating to the special needs and interests of people and facilitating the resolution of problems.
It’s easy here to see how that benefits other people which, of course, is the point. At the same time, though, you also benefit. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The most absolute authority is that which penetrates into a man’s innermost being and concerns itself no less with his will than with his actions.” Sure, if you accommodate to other people and help them work things out, you will feel better about who you are and what you do. It’s like Josiah Royce pointed out, “Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living.”
Caring: Emphasize concern for and interest in the activities, successes, and problems of other people.
Maxwell Maltz expressed it this way, “Take the trouble to stop and think of the other person’s feelings, his viewpoints, his desires and needs. Think more of what the other fellow wants, and how he must feel.” The message is simple. Take time to care; and remember Fred A. Allen’s words, “It is probably not love that makes the world go around, but rather those mutually supportive alliances through which partners recognize their dependence on each other for the achievement of shared and private goals.”
1. Be cooperative.
This means you work well with others and are there to help as appropriate, when needed.
2. Be loyal.
This means you hang in there with the ups and downs and are supportive of and with others when there is internal or external conflict or criticism.
3. Be caring and concerned.
This means that you stay involved and interested in the successes stresses and challenges of others.
4. Be engaged and sharing.
This means that you regularly talk and interact with others.
5. Be respectful.
This means you listen patiently and carefully whenever others are talking, telling you about something, or trying to express their ideas or feelings.
6. Be trusting.
This means you do not get into blaming, accusing, or threatening others.
Now you know so there you go.
1. Be Accepting
This means you are okay with me as is, with no interest in trying to change me.
2. Be Affectionate
This means you find opportunities to be warm and close with me.
3. Be Ambitious
This means you are always on the outlook for chances to improve our lives.
4. Be Assertive
This means you speak up about what you want and need.
5. Be Attractive
This means you work to be someone I want to be with and do things with.
6. Be Considerate
This means you care about my feelings, interests and needs.
There is a space between you and me where the balance is just about right, but if the balance gets out of balance, all is not well. That’s true whether you are my child, my partner, my employer, or just someone who wants and needs my attention. In this episode of Audio Tidbits, I give some thought and attention to this balance.
Do you know someone who is proud of being his or her own person? By that, they mean that the social rules and customs that apply to most of us just don’t apply to them. They think that conforming and predictability are for everyone else but not for them. They are their own person and others will just have to deal with it. Let’s think about how that might work out over time. Press play and join me.
Do you see a committed relationship in your future or perhaps a renewed commitment to an ongoing relationship? If so, you may do well to listen and consider if you are actually ready to commit.