Relationships take work. Regardless of whether it’s with a spouse, friend or loved one that you are caring for it is essential to be conscious of reactions, words and the thoughts behind all if it.
Fear is a BIG emotion and can direct responses especially when we are not conscious, or our defenses are down. I remember hearing my Mom snap at Dad when she was caring for him because he wasn’t doing what she needed him to do. I’d get so angry hearing that without stopping to think what was behind her reaction. Dad was frail, surely discouraged and undoubtedly scared of what was happening to him. Mom was facing not only the mortality of her husband, but her own mortality was coming in to focus. Fear was right in the middle of it.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who found himself in an unexpected turn with his business. He didn’t see it coming, and though he didn’t talk about it specifically, I could tell he was ‘off’ so I offered a few thoughts on options for him to think about and just let it be, letting him know I’d support him if necessary.
As we talked later, he said he was flat out scared and angry, beating himself up for not foreseeing this might happen and better prepare for it. He was so focused on the moment that he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see anything but negative. Fear, yielding its ugly sword was at the root of it.
When he backed away after we spoke and let himself see the options out there the shroud of doubt and self-judgment was lifted. He was becoming clearer and focusing on the next steps and opportunities that he would otherwise have missed.
Through having a conversation vs. an immediate reaction from me of ‘what the heck were you thinking?!?!?’ and instead engaging in active listening to what I heard behind the scenes, I was able to help him see through to a brighter outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of reacting without thinking to this day, but it is a continued conscious effort that provides calmer results.
Be kind to yourself.