Now, this next LOVING Attitude I call Openness is a tricky balancing act.
In the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, the word open and its extensions have these following connotations: not closed or blocked up; allowing entrance or passage; accessible to new ideas and unprejudiced. In a person, it can mean frank and communicative.
Now, I’m by no means suggesting you go into dreadful elder dialogues (phone calls or visits) completely wide open – as in, laid bare for them to stomp upon. Believe me, more than one person in my circles has reported regular abuse from their crotchety aged – verbal certainly and even physical in the form of a raised cane or other injurious devices!
Rather, I’m suggesting open-mindedness while simultaneously adopting appropriate protection attitudinally plus energetically.
Treat un-cope-able interactions like a business meeting.
After all, you wouldn’t go into a contentious session with your demanding boss or difficult colleague only to be caught flat-footed. Are you kidding?
If you worked with as many toxic individuals as I have for 30 years, you’d make darn sure you were over-prepared! What would that entail?
You’d marshal all your documentation, having ready answers for any blind-siding question they could possibly lop over the fence. Your stance would be strong, confident and proactive. Those are the mindsets and behaviors we’re talking about here.
The grounded methods you use daily in professional life are the same muscle you’re wise to flex with intractable seniors. In that way, you can “dance in the moment” (to borrow a coaching term) while keeping your wits about you.
Ready for another technique to focus so you can remain your best self? Yes!
As my father’s final months became evermore excruciating, my need to invent new preparatory rituals climbed commensurately. In rounding the last bend onto his street, I used to center by declaring silently, “Shields up”. Though not a particular Star Trek fan, Captain Picard’s legendary command sure came in handy!
Kooky as it might sound, the expression served as a helpful reminder to maintain my boundaries around his increasing belligerence. Besides, the declaration promoted some much-needed levity. We all know how important Laughter is, right?
My ending reflections…
To avoid being left vulnerable or exposed around argumentative elders, you need the right amount of surrounding “plating”. Think peaceful warrior preparing to do battle.
My inquiry until next time is, how can you “protect” yourself from your impossible parents while staying open-minded this week?