Getting by in Uncertain Times: Communication Is Key
Lean on those in our inner circle.
When we experience periods in our lives when there seem to be more questions than answers, it’s extremely important to keep the lines of communication open. In stressful times we are comforted when we know we can lean on those in our inner circles, but clarity and kindness in communication is important. (“I’m sorry I snapped at you. I was thinking about the bills.” “I’m sorry I seem distracted or distant today. I’m just trying to think about how get through this.”)
Listening is important.
Listening is as important as speaking. To be clear, depending on the relationship and the level of maturity, you may want to be an open book about how the situation is affecting you. Yet, at the same time, it’s important to listen to everyone’s concerns, children included. They may offer light thoughts that have the potential to lift everyone’s spirits. On the other hand, if children are distracted with worry, you can use this opportunity to assure them the adults in the situation will make sure they are safe and secure.
Talk and listen.
Talking together to work through problems can be productive and also strengthen relationships. Encourage everyone in your household to talk AND listen. Consider conducting family meetings to share thoughts, ideas, and solutions to problems the family is currently facing. The benefits and opportunities from a family council depend on everyone working together. Listed below are some helpful guidelines to help you navigate family meetings:
- Focus on problem solving, not on criticism or blame.
- During the discussion, the attitude of all participants is an important factor in making the meeting a success.
- All parties learn by having a chance to take part; everyone’s opinions should be respected.
- Give each meeting member an opportunity to speak freely and with the assurance that everyone’s input is valued.
- Make sure each member has a chance to contribute. This is one good way to uncover the underlying problems, which could seem unimportant on the surface.
- When complex problems arise, sometimes an agreement cannot be reached easily. If this is the case, any plan or solution should be put into effect on a trial basis. If it does not work, move on to the next option. Keep trying; the persistence speaks volumes.
- In money matters, the family council can make group decisions based on everyone’s input. With contributions from everyone, decision makers are more likely to have the cooperation and support of the whole family.
- The mechanics of a family meeting are not as important as the spirit behind the idea.
What may seem insurmountable to one may feel like a ripple to another. Oftentimes, older adults feel more confident in uncertain times for the simple fact that their many decades of experiences have taught them resiliency. If you know an older adult who might have experienced a similar situation, consider talking with them about how they weathered the storm. You will make them feel good by asking, but you just may be surprised at what they have to share.
Above all know that this too shall pass. You will get through this trying period in life. When you look back on it, you may even see that something good came about as a result of these trying times.