On February 2nd, Reuters reported this year’s prediction from Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil. Emerging from his burrow at 7:25 a.m., Phil saw his shadow and foretold six more weeks of winter. In contrast, Canada’s rare albino weather foreseer Wiarton Willie indicated an early spring.
Then there’s the movie named after this eagerly-awaited event across North America. In Groundhog Day, weatherman Phil Connors seems doomed to endlessly re-live February 2nd. At first, he struggles to escape a dismal fate. Ultimately, he uses his hopeless situation to learn new skills like piano playing and ice carving.
So, how do marmots and this film connect to eldercare? I find at least three points of commonality.
1. Same Actions, Same Results
Einstein wisely remarked: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” When it comes to our aging parents, how often do we fall into repeated traps? I raise my hand! How about you? Here’s but a small sampling of tactics I employed while yearning to reinforce my will: beg; demand; jump up and down; manipulate; quarrel… You get the picture. How much did those approaches work? Not so much!
2. Attachment to Our Desired Outcomes
Hidden expectations concerning what old folks “should” do easily slip beneath the radar of conscious awareness. Once secret, our agendas become automatic. After all, we “know better”, correct? Why can’t they “just listen”? Before you realize, well-intentioned “right” actions translate into “my way or the highway”. OK, but… Unless they think it’s “their” idea, how receptive have you found change-resistant elders? Not so much!
3. Taking on What Is Not Ours
Yes, the top two pitfalls (by a landslide) my coaching clients consistently experience are perceived blame and guilt when faced with crotchety attitudes and behaviors. Directly or indirectly, they come away from difficult exchanges hooked into self-defense or outward-projection. They’ve forgotten QTIP stands for Quit Taking It Personally! Once locked into an “I’ll prove you wrong” battle, how do you think adult children prevail? Not so much!
What New Skills Do You Choose to Learn?
Whether the Northern Hemisphere winter drags on or spring emerges early, I invite all of us around the globe to harness this annual reflective period.
We’ve just come out the other side of New Year’s Resolutions. In my inaugural 2015 post, we investigated your beneath-the-surface eldercare intentions. Today, I inquire what new ways-of-being you will adopt in order to avoid “insane”, attached and overly-personalized reactions.
Want a suggestion to start? Try loving detachment. This mindset and practice means you continue your earnest efforts to support your parents. However, you become more neutral and “care” less about whether they do what you think they’re “supposed” to. Does that make sense?