It’s difficult to travel now, as you well know. So when Anna got the call that her grandfather was nearing the end of his life, it presented a real quandary. Should she pack up and set off to be with him? Or should she stay home? After all, pandemic restrictions provide a legitimate reason for avoiding travel.
She weighed the pros and cons, just as you would. Ultimately, despite the expense and inconvenience, Anna chose to go. In her mind, it was the right thing to do.
Although Anna’s family welcomed her, she was soon reminded of old patterns and perceptions that she is unheard, unappreciated, and uninteresting.
And although her grandfather acknowledged her presence, Anna got the distinct impression that her arrival was no big deal. “Muh. So you’re here.”
Anna is getting a clear reminder of why she moved far away in the first place!
Her quandary now is, “Should I stay? Or go back home? Clearly, my family doesn’t care whether I am here.”
Self-evaluation is helpful when you need to make a difficult choice. Consider the question, “Does this action bring me closer to what I want? Or does it lead me further away?”
Although this isn’t a workplace example, Dr. Wubbolding’s book “Employee Motivation” includes an excellent question for this situation: “Is what you want realistic or attainable?”
A good place for Anna to start her self-evaluation is to ask, “What do I want?” Anna knew how she hoped this visit would be. She pictured loving times with her family, shared meals, warm conversations. Her grandfather would be grateful that she’d come and respectful of her accomplishments since he’d seen her.
That is not how it’s going.
The feedback that Anna is getting from her family leads her to think, “This was a bad decision. It’s not worth it. They don’t care. I should just leave.”
But her family’s reaction is not the whole story, is it? Anna also has values that contribute to her choices. Those values include her assessment that it is appropriate and respectful to be with her grandfather at this time, regardless of whether it is recognized or appreciated by her family.
Very often, people don’t respond the way that we would like them to respond; that is, the way they “should.” It’s simply not reality.
Dr. Glasser includes a need for recognition as a need common to all. We want to have value. In Anna’s case, that recognition isn’t coming from her family. However, by matching what she is doing with her personal values, she can get satisfaction from her knowledge that she is doing the right thing according to her standards.
My suggestion to Anna is that she not cut her visit short because of the discouraging family interactions. Of course, one of my values is a distaste for waste. Anna is there now. Coming home early may only enhance her perception that the trip was a failure. If she stays till the end of her grandfather’s life, she can know that she has fulfilled her picture of what appropriate behaviour looks like. And, if she reduces her expectations for family interactions, she may even be able to build those relationships rather than coming away completely disappointed.
What would you suggest to Anna?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom