In my line of work I am well aware that humans do not LOVE transitions and adapting to situations. When the decision was made to sell our established farm and nine year old house to move in to a 200 year old farmhouse full of honey bees, people for sure questioned my sanity. Because I was so aware that humans really struggle with change and transition, I was determined that we would all adjust, especially my kids. I understood that we have way more control over our lives and how we are impacted than people realize.
I was convinced that I could handle anything that may be thrown our way and I knew if my kids watched me “survive” that they, too would adapt to this new school and new living situation. What happens when there is no end date to the situational stress? I think that’s why we have to take the steps to triage and prioritize what actually is going to be stress for us.
Let me describe this house so that you understand this is not a situation where we live in complete hazardous conditions, but they certainly are not convenient! WORST part…no shower. Washing long hair in a tub situation….and not just a normal tub…but a million gallon cast iron tub that you gently turn on and off because if one of those knobs break there is no going back! MICE…this started as my WORST…but believe it or not I can apparently get used to anything! Daily I just wipe down the counter tops and keep on keepin’ on! The UNKNOWN of whatever lives in the oven part of our stove. Like the dog, I am no longer phased by the rustling in there. No lights in rooms that should have lights…my kids have gotten resourceful in using their ipad and ipod as flashlights…I guess we adjusted. DIRT…EVERYWHERE…oh someone just wiped everything down and swept the floor?? CAN’T TELL! That idea that dirt strengthens your immune system….just call us terminators! When it rains…water pours in to the bathroom…a Rubbermaid container is the perfect size to catch most of the leaking areas…FIXED. What I will appreciate at our next location…a toilet that fills up with water!
Some folks respond to my situation with “I would never be able to live like that.” Some have said “You will definitely appreciate your next living situation.” For me it was about the message that I am sending to my kids. Will we miss out on the next six months of our lives because we have to adjust to our current living situation?? I wonder if it means they will adjust and adapt to most things because they saw their parents manage? I wonder if they will think “we will be able to handle anything life might throw at us?”
Part of situational stress has to do with what you THINK others will THINK about your situation. Through this whole process (and yes it has been a process that I was not prepared for) I have become more understanding of others’ decisions surrounding living and financial situations. I wonder what they say to their teachers and friends at school? I wonder what their teachers think of me when I walk into the school and one of my kids have mentioned the rain pouring in to the bathroom this morning? Are others still judging and asking a million questions about our decisions? Of course, but because we know that we have vision and understanding of where we are going, what others think about is pretty low on that triage list. Did we ACTUALLY make a triage list? No, but was it a part of how we were able to transition and continue to live in transition? Yes.
How do I handle situational stress?
Here are some examples of what I consider situational stress: a scary situation where you feel like you have no control, conflict, loss of status, dance moms with different intentions than you, getting fired, city driving, or awkward social situations. What do you do with these situations?
-Take on a reasonable perspective of what your situation ACTUALLY is. (Big picture view)
-Ask yourself will you be closer to where you want to be at the end of the situation? (Vision)
-Assume that others already know that they don’t have enough information to make any reasonable judgement about how you process through and grow from your situation and that you are confident in what you are doing is right for you.
Is it important to communicate and run ideas past reasonable folks in your life who are cheering you on? Yes.
Is it important to laugh about what we decide is the chaos in our lives? Yes.
How about the list of PROS for our decisions…because obviously there were more pros to our situation versus cons! It would be important to note that we did not know our PROS list outweighed our CONS list in the beginning, but WE decided the lists!
Will this all have a positive impact on my future home and living situation? FACT, but mostly because I get to decide.
I hope you, too, make the choice to manage your perspective.
Happy Monday 🤓
Kara Raybuck is a Licensed Professional Counselor. This is her first contribution to Mental Health Mondays.