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Sometimes we Need to Thaw

Do you ever find yourself disappointed with other people and, more specifically, their behaviour? It can be tricky to manage your responses and emotions when faced with an endless string of broken agreements and promises. Sometimes you might even want to scream. But you don’t because you can regulate, you need to regulate. You are likely to overthink and fill in the gaps in communication for yourself – and almost never with a positive spin. The fact is that we have no control over other people or their behaviour, so it’s best we get a handle on our own.

Sometimes our expectations don’t align, and while that is fair enough, I think it would be great just to have that conversation – don’t you? Instead of playing a game of cat and mouse, just come out and own your position. Passive aggressive moves are the worst – one person is waiting to act, and the other doesn’t want to but doesn’t want to come out and say it. ARGHH!

It might be a request you have made to your child, one they have agreed upon but have zero intention of following through. Perhaps a significant other, an agreed-upon moment, but they, and only they, know that they are too busy and can’t do it. A colleague insists they will complete their part of the task but continues to put it off for several reasons. Infuriating if you are the waiting party. So, what do we do about it?

Understand that their inability to complete the agreed-upon action or actions results from their choices and behaviour, not yours. They are most likely caught up in a cycle of procrastination or fear, which will induce the ‘freeze’ response, meaning that they simply cannot take steps forward. We need to help them thaw. Thawing is a process of allowing the frozen to unfreeze slowly, and, in behaviour terms, it means to help someone break a task down into smaller, more palatable chunks. They may not be aware that they are frozen and, as such, would be entirely unaware of the impact on those around them, more specifically, those counting on them.

How do we help them thaw? It might go a little something like this:

To your colleague:

  • A: Hey, I sense that you are stuck with the program. Would it help if we broke it down? What if, this week, you look at English as a focus, and we can check in on Friday to see how it’s going? This is something that you need to do, and I will happily support you as you puzzle it out.

With your child:

  • A: I am wondering how you are going with cleaning your room because it isn’t done, and I feel like you might be stuck. Sometimes it can seem too much, so how about we start with picking up your dirty clothes and getting them to the laundry? Then I can help you figure out what is next.

We all feel overwhelmed, fearful and even ashamed from time to time, and what we really need at that time is some support. Be the support to help someone thaw, the same support you would like to have in your frozen state.

Check out other articles Cassie has written here.