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Why We Fight Over Basic Needs

Why We Fight Over Basic Needs

Sometimes we fight over the most basic human needs – food, water, and shelter. And as COVID revealed, toilet paper! Psychologist Abraham Maslow created his Hierarchy of Basic Human Needs back in 1943. His pyramid of needs is still relevant today. We fight when basic needs are unmet or threatened. This will be a four-part series touching on Physical, Safety, Belonging, and Esteem needs.

Physical Needs

Food, water, and shelter lead the list. Think back to COVID. The long lines at the grocery store as people worried about food and toilet paper. Houselessness ballooned during this time and resources were even more scarce. Those in war-torn countries experience the threat of unmet physical needs and death daily. If they flee, as a refugee, the daily need for basic physical needs often remains. The conflict over water has become and will increase in the future. The lack of sufficient and timely water played a role in the devasting fire in Lahaina, HI. Conflicting interests over water rights continue to increase.  The growth of population and industry places more demand on water. The cost of food and shelter has sharply risen due to inflation More people are struggling with food and rent. Unmet physical needs can often lead to crime and violence. Crime and violence spiked during the pandemic. People were scared and resources scarce.

Most of you reading this blog are not fighting over food, water, and shelter. But COVID demonstrated how a disruption to the food chain can panic communities. Most people are not prepared for emergencies, including toilet paper!

I remember the challenges in paying the mortgage, grocery costs, and just living when first starting my mediation practice. I know what it means to worry about losing a house and providing for my family. It was a frightening time. I often felt depressed and paralyzed, not sure how to remedy the situation. Now, every time I get groceries, I wonder how people keep up. Costs have doubled in the last four years for many food items.  The increase in wages has not met the increase of costs.  These basic needs unmet will cause conflict within and outside of a household.

Food, water, and shelter are the most basic of human needs. We cannot live without them. We will do almost anything to satisfy them. Globally and locally, more people are just getting by. The margins are thin. The threats are real. Peace is elusive when you worry about the basics.

What Can Help?

  1. Reach out to others. You are not alone. Others will come alongside you if you invite them. Don’t let your pride keep you isolated.
  2. Create a plan. The factors of poverty or the temporary lack of resources are often complex. A. plan will help you know the next step. Knowing the next step helps do the next step.
  3. Change. Change what is needed; your habits, your situation, your mindset, you. Change is hard. Worrying about basic needs is hard. Choose your hard.

I am the chairperson of the Board of Directors for Union Gospel Mission of Portland, OR. We see the lack of basic physical needs of humans daily. Addiction is hard. Trauma is hard. Broken families are hard. Abuse is hard. Healing is hard. There is help. Life change can happen. If you are struggling with basic human needs, please reach out.

How To Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

How To Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

I know and teach about SMART goals. The problem is that I don’t always follow the template for a SMART goal. What do I get? I get a dumb goal that often does not hit the target (even if I hit the goal). Have you done that before?

So let’s review a SMART goal:

S – Specific. The devil is in the details. When negotiating a settlement in mediation, details matter. Often, the details are submitted to the courts or drafted into business agreements or settlements. Be specific. Know when you have hit the target because you painted the target bright red.

M – Measurable. Whatever gets measured gets done, or at least gets evaluated objectively. Money and products can be measured more easily than services. You need to measure services as objectively as possible to remove the emotions from the findings. This is never truer than with nonprofits, which often passionately provide a service.

A – Attainable. This step is for all of you optimists. You keep missing goals because they are not just a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), but they are simply unattainable. When you constantly miss your goals, the culture of your team suffers and you get depressed. There will always be people around you who can bring realism to your goals. You want stretch goals, but you don’t want them to be impossible.

R – Relative. Your goals need to motivate YOU. They are relative to YOU and your team. Here is the trick. If you have a team, and the goals are only relative to you, there is a mountain to climb. You cannot expect your team to embrace your goals unless you have embraced your team. If you do not have a team at work, you may have a team at home. If you are working insane hours for a goal your home team does not support, there is trouble ahead!

T – Timebound. A goal without a timeline is a goal that you will get around to someday. A goal with a timeline is a goal with a track for completion. Any important goal needs a deadline. Team leaders must bring accountability to deadlines, or the goals become meaningless. Deadlines bring the goals to fruition. And when you complete SMART goals, you look smart as well.

Now for the application. Unless you have some form of time management system to track your goals, you will never hit them and just keep moving the deadlines further away. And, you need more than a time management system, you need daily habits to move the needle on the goals. Major goals need consistent time blocks to bring the goal to completion. Without the time blocks, you will face last-minute deadlines producing poor performance and unhappy clients.

Want to find some peace of mind by moving the needle on your goals in business and life? Create SMART goals with systems and habits for success!

Honor Your Parent Instead of Parenting Your Parent

Honor Your Parent Instead of Parenting Your Parent

I often get asked how to parent a parent. Parents do not want a parent. Children do not want to parent a parent. But in reality, a role reversal does eventually happen. A physical event can trigger a very quick transition. A stroke causing paralysis can leave the parent without the ability to independently eat, toilet, walk or conduct other basic daily activities. Or, the slow and continual march of Alzheimer’s eats away at the cognitive functions until little is left. Let’s not think about how to parent a parent. Instead, let’s think about how to honor a parent. Here are a few tips:

Retain dignity. Your parent is worthy of respect regardless of his or her current physical or mental capacity. Do not speak in a demeaning or parental voice. You may need someone other than yourself to monitor your voice. Most people do not realize the tone or demeanor of one’s voice when speaking to another. Simple ways to retain dignity are appearances of dress and grooming. Keep your parent looking sharp even if nobody will see them during the day except you or the caregiver. Allow privacy as much as possible for bathing and toileting.

Have grace. In the case of dementia, your parent can no longer cognitively process as before and will deteriorate. A child can learn and grow, retain and improve. Your parent cannot. You can become extremely frustrated and overwhelmed at times. You have a choice to honor and love your parent in the worst of conditions, just as he or she loved you as a child. You can return the grace your parent once provided to you.

Take breaks. If you are the caregiver for your parent, then respite is key. You cannot honor your parent when you are burned out. Caregiving is hard, 24/7 relentless work. If you do not get a break, you will become frustrated, angry, and depressed. You are the most important person in the life of your parent, and you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your parent.

Do not put your parent in a place of embarrassment and failure. As a parent declines, you can purposely push them into failure, or you can understand their limitations and find a way for them to succeed. When my mother was 84 years old, she had a minor accident in a parking lot. Then, she had mild cognitive impairment. I asked to go for a ride along to check her driving reactions and abilities. She was more comfortable making a series of right turns rather than turning left on a very busy multilane street. She was already nervous. So instead of pushing her to a potential point of embarrassment or failure by requiring her to turn left on a busy street, we went her long way around the block. We went out to eat and then I drove home.

I loved my mom. I wanted to keep her and others safe. Thus, we needed to drive together. The time came quickly when she could no longer drive or live independently. As her dementia progressed, she spent seven years in an adult foster care home. She passed away on Christmas Day, 2022. I honored her by taking care of her affairs and ensuring she had great personal care.

The Gift of Gifts

The Gift of Gifts

I have given you some ideas about ways to communicate love to your partner apart from an actual physical gift. In this blog, let’s talk about physical gifts. I want to give you some ideas for gifts that don’t break the bank. The key? Picking out gifts that match the needs and desires of your partner.  Here are a few ideas:

  • A favorite treat – chocolate, beef jerky, etc. The important part? It is a TREAT!
  • Surprise your partner and order in a meal
  • Go to the dollar store and pick out gifts for several days 
  • Give them a gift card to his or her favorite restaurant 
  • Buy them a subscription for streaming music for a year
  • Give them a gift for each of the five senses: smell, touch, hear, see, taste
  • The BIG gift. Ok, this one might break the bank a bit. Should be a surprise, and maybe a treasure hunt to find? Technology? Jewelry? Tool? Sporting Equipment? Clothes?

I hope these have given you some ideas for gifts. Gift-giving is another love language for my wife. She loves to give gifts. She is the only person I know that will go to an open house for a merchant who wants to say thank you to us as loyal customers and bring a gift! At Easter, she loves Reeses Eggs. So, I always buy her an ample supply. I have found small gifts that make her life easier is a great idea, either for the car, yard, kitchen or house in general (these are NOT Mother’s Day or Birthday gifts!). Every now and then at Christmas, I love to surprise her with some diamonds. I can never go wrong with diamonds!

I wish you some amazing experiences as you consider gifts that make the heart of your partner soar!

The Gift of Serving

The Gift of Serving

These are gifts that often do not cost anything but can mean everything! For those with the Love Language of acts of service, serving them is one of the best ways to say, “I love you”.

Serving others means the most when you know what is meaningful for the person you are serving. Random acts of service are great as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Think of something your partner REALLY wants done. Then, do it!
  2. Wash and clean his or her car.
  3. Do a daily or weekly task that your partner normally does. Just remember if the task has some very specific steps, you may want to think about another one. When I tried this years ago, I washed a special sweater of my wife’s and put in the dryer on high. I did not get any points for that one!
  4. It’s Christmas. We put up Christmas lights. My wife loves them. I hate putting them up. I put them up anyway. She appreciates it.
  5. Think of something you can do together to make the work lighter. You get a task done and spend time together.
  6. This one takes more time. Set aside an entire day for the TO DO list. Let your partner know, or surprise them. When my wife is gone for travel, I often try to check off one major task on the TO DO list.
  7. Every day for 12 days give a massage. One can be a full body massage by a masseuse, others can be simply a foot massage.
  8. Cook dinner, if you normally do not cook dinner. 
  9. Get his or her coffee/tea ready in the morning.
  10. Grocery shop, if you normally do not do the shopping.
  11. Give him or her a day off. You do EVERYTHING she or he would normally do.
  12. After Christmas, work together to take down all the decorations. 

Hope these ideas will spur your imagination. Acts of service is the love language of my wife. I learned early in our marriage the importance and impact of doing things for her as well as recognizing her acts of service toward me (just as important!). 

Enjoy serving that important person in your life!

Holiday Family Fights

Holiday Family Fights

For some, getting through the stress of the holidays means trying to avoid the traditional family fight at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I remember my grandfather drinking too much, getting mad at my mom, she ends up crying, and him leaving early huffing and puffing out the door.  So much for a Happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas!

As a mediator, I find avoiding family fights one of the top priorities for many during the holiday season.  Here are a few of the common fights:

  • The In-Law Fight. Marriage does instantly create family. Parents never accepted the partner of the child.  Children never accepted the new partner of a parent.
  • The Alcohol Induced Fight. Give anyone too much liquor and just watch the fireworks.
  • The Religion and Politics Fight. There is a reason why people stay away from these topics, especially after some alcohol.
  • The “You Never Amounted to Nothing” Diatribe. This is more of a rant than a fight. The result is just the same; victims and blood everywhere.  Alcohol always helps this one get started.
  • Last, but least, the “Why Can’t You be Like the Others” Fight. This fight ofter originates with parents focused on the misfit child. The whole family would be better if the misfit would just learn to conform or “get along.”

Now that I have described some of my favorite holiday family fights, what can you do about them? Here are a few strategies. If you are hosting the holiday gathering, you can make some ground rules. How about limiting the amount of alcohol consumption for a start?  Or, certain subjects or people are off limits for conversation.  In order to keep things more positive, how about digging out some old family photos or movies.  Many families have a great time reflecting on past events.  You could even ask each family to bring one of their favorite photos and explain why they selected it.  The point?  If you are the host, you control the environment.  You get a chance to possibly start some new traditions.

Now, if you are not hosting and attending the gathering at another family members home, here are some pointers.  Think about how to excuse yourselves if the family starts down the fight trail.    You can even have an agreed upon word or sentence that signals your spouse or family – time to leave.  If you are ready to confront some difficult family behavior, schedule a pre-holiday conversation to discuss the issue.  “We will not participate in conversations that quickly turn abusive.  If we come, and you raise issues that lead to escalating conflict, we will leave.  We would like to stay and enjoy the day.  How about we think about how to make this a good day for everyone?.”  Think about your words.  Try to describe the situation accurately without using inflammatory descriptors.  Many spouses and children do not feel safe at holiday gatherings.  Thus, they would rather stay home.

If you are ready to invest in a process to create peace for your family, we are here to help you on that journey. We offer a FREE 15-minute phone consultation to help you make the first step on the journey.

I hope this holiday brings you and your family peace, joy, love and hope.