It is very common to find that even though unhappiness or stress at work or overworking (either as an escape or as pursuing success) may invariably contribute to disappointment in one’s private life (referred to as a work to life ‘spill’ impacting one’s life-style, way one feels and functions), some individuals lack the ability for personal and interpersonal nurturing, even though at work willingly plan & prioritise to have the time to make some effective changes. Perhaps the skill is there but only applicable to the preferred domain…example work; and somehow this same ability ‘blocked away’ when it comes to looking after one’s own physical, emotional and social needs or that of family.
Related to my research interest in well-being, I will draw on my clinical practice experiences as a psychologist and recall some of the most common and perceived reported barriers for personal time and intimacy(I have found some of these elements popping its head up in myself too!):
1. Avoidance. For example, bringing home work and/or staying up to unearthly hours working/ studying/ on the net, every night, instead of having some regular nights of going to bed to maintain good sleep hygiene and allow one’s body and mind for rest, may indicate denial of one’s needs.
2. Parenting duties and prioritising child rearing. This is a perfect excuse to not address personal and intimacy issues at all! It may have been too confronting in the past! Maybe one lacks the effective communication skills. However, instead of persistence and working on developing and mutually encouraging those skills, one may prefer to create legitimate reasons to talk of responsibilities and duties but feelings!
3. Inflexibility. As exemplified by ‘name calling’, ‘labelling’ and ‘giving –up too soon’ – could be your own projections of feeling invalidated and inadequate. The reality is that we may feel like this sometimes: The trick is to work on an attitudinal shift from cynicism to engagement in our-selves and with the world outside which is the context in which we perform! The intent by choice is not easy but achievable with mindful-awareness of what comes out of one’s mouth and a control over one’s hands and legs! The idea is to deliberate openness…you do not have to agree, but damaging gadgets, smearing public property or being in rage will probably not resolve anything either.
4. Inability to listen and accommodate the ‘other’ person’s perspectives: Wait till the other person finishes his or her side of the story. Note down your disagreements mentally or in writing but wait till the other has poured out her feelings. Validate and reflect what you have understood and then give your perspective of the story, without having to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
5. Fear of rejection. I think we fear that in being transparent the’ significant other/s’ will think less of us: That our needs would be criticised and we may even invite blatant denials and contempt.
6. Myths like ‘it is selfish to think about yourself: These are thoughts that are imbedded from our childhood, family, society and not necessarily validated through real life-experiences. Fact is we all need help and support. Question such myths to decide whether you will maintain them and if so why? Would you discard them and if so, why?
7. Procrastination. There may not be another time! Please do not defer life’s most valuables- you and your loved ones, to be experienced and cherished at a scheduled time once or twice a year (holidays) or at another time when we retire or upon another condition being fulfilled down the time line. There is no guarantee that you will get that chance. More importantly it really might be too late!
How come in well-being research we have not looked into these barriers and appear to prescribe some ad hoc positive anecdotes for a pleasant and functional life!? As researchers are we not focussing only on one side of the story, risking a ‘fit for all’ solution that may be redundant and a total waste of time!? More reflections in the next blog!