Michael Rooni, JD, spoke about communication at a CV Chamber event. He suggested taking the other person’s side so conflict resolution reflects mutual fairness. This flies in the face of our understanding of power, or making sure someone gets or gives only what you want them to give or get. Rooni says communication benefits when we walk in someone else’s shoes.
I’ve been thinking about this because people ask me what should they do when someone they know is an addict. After all the talks we’ve presented and all of the articles I’ve read, the best answer I can give them is to love them while giving them the dignity to fail. They are sick. They may have good intentions, but the disease is stronger than their will. You have to protect yourself, and try not to enable them. Experts might say my answer is simplistic but I think it’s universal. Because something’s wrong in their brain.
We have learned much about brain development, and how the pleasure center ruler is quieted around age 27. Until the supremacy of reason kicks in, parents who once walked in teenage shoes must communicate regularly and honestly with their progeny. Adults, please give your children the dignity to fail. Remember to teach them ways to fix their mess, and then get out of the way and let them do it. Your job is to love unconditionally.
You know whose brain is also ruled by the pleasure center? People with dementia. They lose their memories, ability to reason and, sometimes, they can annoy you with their redundancies. So when your granny asks, “Where’s grandpa?” Instead of saying he’s dead and making grandmother cry, say he’s at the store. She’ll forget and you’ll save her tears. If they get on a topic that irritates them, don’t fight. Instead, excuse yourself and come back with food. I know when my daughter snipes at me, a creature comfort needs comforting. Same for people with dementia. You gotta love them unconditionally while you give them the dignity to fail. One day, you may be wearing those shoes.
Suzy Jacobs, Executive Director,
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La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 646-7867 • cv-alliance.org/