I had the absolute pleasure of hearing author & speaker Jim Comer speak last week at the New Year Publishing Author's Conference. Jim is an expert on aging & Alzheimer's Disease, especially poignant after taking an 18-year journey caring for his elderly parents. He said his "eureka" moment with his 90-year old mother was when he learned on a particularly difficult day, "wherever she is, that's where I'll go."
Translation: if she spoke baby talk, he would mirror her tone in his responses - illiciting calm in his mom. Or if she talked as if they were on their old street when he was a child, he would reference that location in his answers. I brought that quote home with me, because of its many applications in life. How many times do we choose NOT to go where our partners or families or coworkers "are?"
For instance, when your child receives a bad grade...do you get upset, or do you put your face at his/her level and get to the root of the problem? I've definitely been guilty of the first response. Or imagine at work, a complaining coworker that you normally filter out. Could you continue to filter, or dive into the meaning between the words to help solve the problem? And also flip it - how many times has someone "gone where you were?" Do you remember how you felt afterwards? It was probably good.
With that, I give you five ways to "Go Where They Are."
1) Become an emotional mirror. In your body language, speech, mannerisms...it shows you are listening actively.
2) Just show up. We avoid our most difficult personal & emotional interactions. Investing the time is step one to getting really great at feeling more comfortable.
3) Continue the contact. You've heard that practice makes perfect, right?
4) Watch other habits change as you do. You'll find out new things about yourself as you grow with your relationships.
5) Find calm & peace. The overriding message in Jim's speaking is that the calmness centers any communication. When you are at peace, it's a glow around you that others sense.
So the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, just remind yourself to "go where they are." And give thanks that you are still "here" to be able to experience it.
For more information on elder care, support & reading materials by author Jim Comer, please visit www.WhenRolesReverse.com.