Here you are in 2020, exactly where you thought you’d be…right?
Unless you’re an essential worker, like the many brave medical staff, truck drivers, grocery workers etc., you are in your home.
Maybe you’re alone, or maybe you’re in a house with a lot of people and pets. Your natural daily routines and rhythms are gone. Kids aren’t in school, you’re not at work, you can’t go to the beach or the gym…
Tempers flare, little habits that used to be endearing now grate on your every nerve, you’re not sure what to do with all that pent-up energy…
And communication breaks down.
Here are a few tips to assist you with one of the most important skills to have.
- Shift Your Language from YOU to I Statements
The lockdown has probably changed your viewpoint toward your spouse, partner, kids or anyone else you’re communicating with right now. It can be really tempting to scream:
“You’re driving me crazy!”
“You’re not picking up after yourself!”
“You’re not helping me figure out how to survive on reduced income!”
The problem with beginning a sentence with YOU, is it makes the other person feel defensive.
Before you speak, take a moment and a deep breath. Then reframe what you have into a different statement that begins with I.
“I feel anxious because we are trapped in this house.”
“I feel upset right now because there are dishes in the bedroom.”
“I feel scared because I don’t know how we are going to pay our bills.”
2. Schedule Time to Talk About Problems and Feelings
If you or anyone else is angry/upset about something, it’s best to wait
until you’ve cooled down before talking. Once you’ve waited and have your feelings under control, say “I have something I need to discuss with you. When would be a good time for you?” If they’re also upset, say “I think it would be good if we could talk later when we both feel calmer. Please let me know when that would be.”
It’s best to speak about things away from other people, so try to have conversations in a space where you can be alone with each other. Be sure to listen and not interrupt. Respond with I statements about your feelings.
If you have a lot of people living together, schedule a convenient time to unplug from electronics and talk about how everyone is doing. Make it a place where people listen without judgment.
3. Be Clear about Your Needs
Maybe you need time alone and now everyone is crammed in the
same space. Maybe you’re alone and obsessively reading the news about the corona virus. Maybe your anxiety has gone through the roof.
This is a time where everyone is navigating their way through the “new normal.” It’s a time to say what you mean, and mean what you say.
If you’re alone, find a way to reach out to someone even if it’s an online chat group. If you’re scared, that’s okay. We all are.
Don’t bottle up your feelings. If you’re feeling extreme anxiety or feelings of self-harm, reach out to a hotline.
Remember, we’re all in this together. Be good to each other.