By Dr. Joti Samra, CEO & Founder of the Psychological Health & Safety (PH&S) Clinic and MyWorkplaceHealth
My family is dealing with very difficult neighbours. It’s causing us so much stress that we are considering moving from our great neighbourhood to a nearby community. At the same time, my wife and I have anxiety over uprooting our young children. I’m tormented over what will be best for our family in the long run. Should we stay or move?
There are two distinct, yet overlapping issues you are faced with: One, the immediate concern of how to effectively approach and personally cope with the situation regarding your neighbours; and two, whether moving your family is the right long-term solution to a possible perpetual problem.
It’s going to be difficult to come to a balanced decision about the second issue until you sort out the first.
All too often, we tend to adopt knee-jerk reactions when we are put in high-stress situations. In-the-moment-solutions that we come up with seem to be the only viable options we have. Unfortunately, however, our decision-making when under high emotional distress is often skewed, and we don’t consider all of the pertinent factors that would help make a more rational decision.
This happens as stressful situations elicit a fight-or-flight response in us, which is a very strongly engrained, adaptive response that ensures survival. However, unless you and your family are in acute danger or threatening situation from your neighbours (which doesn’t sound to be the case), the response may be mismatched to the situation.
Start by thinking rationally about your situation. Writing down the issues can often help provide some perspective. Be specific and detailed in outlining the issues you have with your neighbours.
Sit down with your wife and do the following:
Currently you are only weighing the pros and cons of a move as being the only solution, but there may be other less intrusive options. Ultimately, if you have exhausted all other realistic possibilities, and if the issues with your neighbours are significant in severity and impact, a move may be the decision you and your wife arrive at for the long-term.
Keep in mind that you may encounter a similar problem in a new neighbourhood and that a moving each time is not an effective long-term coping strategy.
Excerpted from Dr. Joti Samra’s “Ask the Psychologist” weekly column in The Globe and Mail.
Enhancing psychological health, wellness and resilience