Whether we were previously the main breadwinner and spent our days at work or were a stay at homeparent, we have all been forced to suddenly adapt- unexpectedly bombarded with new domestic duties, setting-up our work in our homes. In fact, many of us are trying to figure out how best to carry out these roles whilst simultaneously juggling the unfamiliar demands of home-schooling.
These new roles are so unplanned. Many of us certainly feel completely out of our comfort zones. When assuming the new role as a parent, we have nesting time. Leading up to a job interview, we have time to research & prepare for our new role. But, now we are thrown into our new covid19 roles with no preparation.There is no manual or PD or KPIs about what’s expected of us. There was no induction or probation period to determine how we’re doing. I guess we‘Melbournites’could liken “isolation #1” as a trial or test run. Whilst some may have discovered a newfound talent amongst this covid19 confusion, most roles are unwelcome necessesities.
My sudden transition to the role ofstroke survivor definitely was imposed on me & otherswith no manual. No-one knew what to expect.I was just a body infested withdeficits, problems & issues. I write in my book, “I felt forced to focus on my situation and all the things that were not right or fair about it. Endless negative issues circled in my damaged mind. I felt like I’d been dumped at Talbot’s doorstep, a complex machine with no manual (Reinventing Emma, 116)
Similarly, many of us are disliking trying to squish & adapt our lives and have understandably become quite resentful and bitter. These uncomfy, enforced roles seem to expose our weaknesses. Why showcase & do what makes us look bad? Not only does this seem to negatively taint our effectiveness but it also impacts those around us. My stroke definitely led to a lot of confusion about my new role as a patient. Suddenly, I was the recipient of the care that I’d previously providedas an Occupational Therapist. This huge role shift also affected every other domain in my life. I no longer could do anythinglike the ‘old Em’ had done or be the person that I’d been in this new realm. Not only was this confronting for me, but it also extended to all my relationships.
“As my mum wrote later, “I needed to learn new ways to relate to my daughter. She didn’t want pity or patronising behaviours yet I pitied her and I patronised and I did things for her that she wanted and needed to do for herself. I was treading on eggshells and yet neither of us wanted that at all. I spent my time with her doing the many things that needed doing when often what she wanted/needed more was for me to sit with her, to listen to her, to share with her.” (p 151)
I also write about this difficult adjustment in my book, “Although I was lucky to have so many visitors, an awkwardness hung in the air. We were all tentatively trying to work out our new roles…My stroke had changed everything. I was not the same person or friend in the relationship that family and friends had committed to. Now they were also my carers and were torn between that and who they’d always been to me over the last 24 years.” (Reinventing Emma p 134)
Adjusting to any role takes time for everyone. I later write about how my new role as a stroke survivor hugely impacted all those around me, “…There I was, still living at home as a disabled adult child. It was sorely testing all of us. I’d always had a great relationship with my family and friends but having them now as my carers was changing the dynamics of our lives. “ (Reinventing Emma, p 177)
When we find ourselves intheseunprecedented rolesit’s easy to conjure up negative thoughts. If we are home schooling for example, to think why ‘we could never be a teacher’, and what’s not right about a situation. It’s even tempting to fault others’ performances. But weneed to wear these suits & take on these roles for a while yet- choose to foster a positive mindset. It’s amazing when you’re around someone whose passionate about their role.Both you & they benefit.Conversely, when they don’t want be there, you, as a recipient of their efforts, feel a burden. Perhapsconsider how you’re conveying your frustrations to another person you’re working with (a colleague or child) ? Is your resentful manner unintentionally impacting them? How can you incorporate other things into your life, whether it’s a 5 minute walk in fresh air or a chat to a friend to make this not so easy role easier to withstand?
Focussing on what was not right about my spot and faulting others trying to learn new roles was certainly easy in my victim mindset. I speak about my difficulty in accepting how another carried out their caring roles in my book and how when others suddenly changed roles it seemed “…to unbalance the relationship, them becoming more like carers in my eyes” (Reinventing Emma p 213). But this mindset made everything feel too hard and I progressively became more resentful. It was easy to focus on the negatives engulfing me. “… I’d unconsciously (and consciously) remind them of all the extra obstacles I now had since their move. This negative thinking fed my resentment..” and over time learnt to focus on the positive aspects of their caring role rather than critical of their oversights. (Reinventing Emma p 229)
So, when you find yourself critiquing another trying to master their new position, how can you encourage them? Are you unintentionally focussing onwhat they are doing wrong? or pointing out the way perhaps that you’d do it differently? What are the great things that you see?
Taking ownership of your spot doesn’t lessen the frustrations that we all feel. But surely this choice enables us to positively reframe our situations and may boost yours or another’s mindset!