Last Thursday, I had a number of things on my TO DO LIST, when suddenly my day was blown up. I was frustrated in the moment. After reflection, I remembered three things that helped me and that might help you as well.
- Gratitude. The problem was a brief medical issue with my mom. She is in care at an Adult Foster Care home. The medical issue took the rest of my day. As I drove home, I had to make a choice. Either remain frustrated at the tasks that remained on my list, or become grateful for people in my life. I chose gratitude. I am so thankful for the caregiver to my mom. She is patient, kind, loving, and competent. She was willing to take my mom in her home when others were not. I am grateful my mom is still alive at 87 years. Even with dementia, she still recognizes me. I am grateful for my staff. If I need to leave, or I am away, I have full confidence in their abilities to serve our clients. I am grateful for an amazing wife who deals with my grumpiness when I can’t shake my frustration before coming home. I could go on. You get the idea. Don’t make people problems. The problem was not my mom, nor her caregiver, nor those in the medical community who serve her.
- Perspective. As a mediator, I frequently help clients gain perspective. Perspective takes intentional work. Your mind does not see perspective naturally. When I gained perspective on the day, I realized in my driven, Type A personality, I can put tasks above people. Getting things done over the opportunities of a moment. From my mom’s perspective, her day was far worse. She was confused, worried, and a little frightened. She needed her son. I got to spend time with my mom that was not scheduled. In my world where most everything is on a calendar, this moment could either be an opportunity or an annoyance. I chose opportunity, even though at the moment it was an annoyance. Perspective was the difference.
- Context. This was a first world problem. In many countries, elderly parents live with their children. The incident would simply be part of another day of caring for an aging parent. Still challenging, yet part of daily life. Since my mom does not live in our home, this becomes part of the daily life of her caregiver. I realize life of our home would be vastly different if my mom was living with us. I mentioned earlier this was a first world problem. However, millions of Americans choose to care for their aging parents. All the challenges of aging, from physical impairment to the steady march of Alzheimer’s, are shared with those who live in the home, either with a single caregiver or an entire family. Context gave me the ability to appreciate my caregiver even more and empathize with the millions of other caregivers.
So, the next time your day gets blown up, frustration begins to mount, and all you can think about is how to pivot and reduce the damage, remember to be grateful, gain perspective, and understand context.