Some time ago, in one of the trainings I attended, they told me a story.
One of the teachers had spent a long time living on a boat. The expedition was for scientific purposes, and although they docked from time to time, they spent most of their time sailing. Life on a ship when you dock once every three or four months is quite curious. Four unknown at first people shared the space, which was at the same time home, workplace and a place for leisure. During the first days everything was smooth. Can you imagine? United for the same purpose, passionate about their work, eager to enjoy the opportunity …
Problems appeared later
Problems appeared later. How is 24 hours with three strangers in a limited space that you can’t get out of once the novelty is over? Difficult.
To the usual friction in any new job after a while, you need to take into account they continued to live together the rest of the day. There were not only professional tasks related to the experiments they carried out, but also vital tasks: who cooks? Who cleans? And, on top of this we must add the lack of privacy. How do you manage to be accompanied 24 hours a day? Where is the personal space?
Arguments always hurt the coexistence because there was no place to ventilate them. Words, when they weren’t the right ones, had a devastating effect because no one could put physical distance to digest and regain calm.
She told me that, after a couple of disastrous experiences, they established some mandatory rules and, the demand for individual and group responsibility. All were responsible for their behaviour, but also for supporting the situation if someone lost their nerves at a specific moment.
I was impressed by the story at the time and I confess that these days I can’t stop remembering it.
We are living in an exceptional situation.
The first impression is that there are people who cannot bear to be confined to a house without going out, except for the basic and necessary. I have spoken to quite a few people — friends, family, and clients. Some told me they were not able to stay at home, that they have children and cannot be locked up. Or that they need air. And it is understandable.
We simply are not used to being in a small space, accompanied 24 hours a day, without personal privacy and having to share with people — even if they are our family — we are not used to be with more than a few hours a day. If we have children, the situation will surely be more complex.
What could we do?
Stop resisting. We have to stay home. There is no point in making it more complicated and the sooner we stop fighting the inevitable, the sooner we can do something to take it better.
Establish standards and make them count. No, not routines (maybe, too) but rules. Reduce uncertainty. What needs to be done, who and when. This helps to eliminate tensions and to be able to resolve conflicts more quickly. The less you improvise, the easier it will be.
If there is something to talk about, talk about it when it happens trying not to lose your cool. The less we let the problem live, the better.
And above all, manage your state, your emotions and your expectations. What is this? Choose how you want to be: I’m going to be angry all day because I can’t go out or I’m going to choose to adapt. I am going to protest because in my house I live with 2 girls who sometimes do not let me work, or I am going to do something to be OK.
The results we obtain will depend on the choices we make. And we cannot choose what is happening to us, but we can choose how to react.
Our objective should be to get out of this quarantine, at least with the same strength of relationships with which we entered; not less. We have to know that all the frictions of these days will take a personal toll on us at some point. And again, our goal should be to keep that bill as small as possible, so we can continue to enjoy it once this happens.
Take care. And take care of those around you.