On the Corner
by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief
139 Salvation Army Western Territory officers have been ordered to leave one location and move to another. It’s the annual “shuffle.” Those of us who stay put haven’t much empathy (feeling with) for them, so I’ve tried to generate some.
I’ve lived in the same house for almost 50 years
Moving, I suspect, arouses many different feelings. The feelings take turns coming in waves. Some are ten feet high, some are the low “garbage” gently washing the shore. Some crash with thunder. Some reach their peak and then plummet.
All the “feeling-waves” can be ridden. That’s the important thing to realize when you move.
Moving can be a pain – all that packing, trying to plan in what box something should be placed –trying figure out what to take, what to leave, what to sell, what to give away, what to throw away. Not easy. Exhausting. Time consuming. Many meetings. Lotta talk – some unpleasant.
Moving can be scary. What’s the new place like? Will they like me? Am I going to fit in? What about my kids – how will they cope? What town will they call “home?” How old will they be when I have to move and they decide to remain?
Moving can be confusing. Why are we being sent there? What does the future hold for me? Why can’t I just stay here? Is it a good idea moving people around this much?
Moving can trigger feelings of powerlessness – I wonder why they want to move me at this time? What does the future hold for me? Is it more of this? Maybe it’ll be good for me – then again, maybe it won’t. I’ve just this thing here working like a charm. Why can’t I stay here at least for another year.?
All of this boils down to one thing. STRESS! There’s no question about it. This kind of imposed move delivers a lot of it. Besides, moving isn’t the only contributor. You’ve got a new job, too. It might have the same title, but, believe me, it’s different. There’s a change for you financially, as well. New policies guide expenditures, and different costs of living are in place. Your feelings about leaving your former position haven’t been completely resolved. The social demands with meeting and greeting and visiting and getting acquainted with new people will be extensive. Your new residence will deliver its own brand of stress. Questions flood in. What needs fixing or painting or changing? Where’s the moving van? What are the bed’s like? Where did they ever get this carpet.? How does this oven work?
Your kids will deliver some of their new school stress to you. They need attention and support. They need to feel confident and positive about themselves and their surroundings. They’ve left valuable friends – maybe even a sister or brother in your prior location, and they don’t know how to deal with these strange feelings.
The whole business of doing what you do will require some readjustment. Your former system might not fit with the way they do things in the new place. The people to whom you relate have personalities different from the ones you left. Old policies and traditions need evaluation in relation to the new position.
Do you consider this new position a promotion or something else? If it’s the later, your stress level increases significantly.
Think of stress as some kind of demand made on your adjustment ability that requires you to cope. That’s the essential ingredient in dealing with demands on adjustment.
One type of demand could be biological – A situation might produce an “upset” stomach or even some kind of stress on your immune system. You can’t very well go into a new situation and refuse to shake hands with people for fear of catching a cold – or giving them yours.
Another type of stress could be labeled interpersonal. You’re going to have to relate to new people while remembering that first impressions tend to get locked in for a considerable period of time and are very difficult to change. A third kind of stress might be called sociocultural. This occurs because there, possibly were a group of people on whom you could depend for certain responses, and now that group is no longer present. Another example might come with your discovery that what worked in one place just might not work in a different place. There are new rules, roles, boundaries, and they all require some adaptation on your part.
An important thing to remember, however, is that no one thing, by itself, causes stress. I believe that it always takes at least two factors to create a stressful situation that makes demands on your body.
Some possible stress situations might be: emotional arousal, fatigue, pain, fear, concentration, humiliation, great effort, or even unexpected success.
The challenge in all of this comes with developing good coping strategies. Start with appraisal – looking the situation over calmly; then continue with your efforts to manage the situation by negotiating the outcomes with an open and rational point of view. Additionally, continue to practice relaxation skills
Moving can be exciting— something new, new opportunities, new responsibilities, new challenges, new people to get to know. This new appointment could be a lot of fun. So tell me – what’s the first thing you want to do?