When Tough Times Take an Emotional Toll
Having an optimistic nature is a requirement for a person to even consider agriculture as a profession. The ups and downs of agriculture that are regularly served up courtesy of the weather, the markets, equipment breakdowns, and the occasional “stuff happens” are what we grow to accept as a part of the business.
When nearly all the challenges of agriculture align with a severely negative bias, and that negativity continues for a much longer duration than grandpa can remember, our emotional foundations start to weaken. For some, it is foreign territory and they become emotionally disoriented to the extent that they fail to function within their own established range of normalcy. The talkative ones go dormant, and the more reserved become even more distant. We see frustration where we used to see logic, and the visionary struggles to just get through today.
Often, we accept these behaviors as a part of “tough times” and do our best to approach it one day at a time…..and then we read about a suicide in the dairy business…..and it all seems much more real and urgent.
I’m not a therapist, but I have worked with clients who have gone through some pretty tough times. Here are some of the things that they did to prevent being overwhelmed:
- They limited themselves to only a few minutes of self-pity—then got back to work.
- If they were having a particularly tough day, they found something they could repair or clean up that gave them an immediate sense of accomplishment.
- They sought out positive people, and ignored those who only wanted to add their personal woes to the conversation.
- They knew where to go for realistic and factual information, and avoided news programs, e-mails, websites, market commentary, Op-Ed’s, etc. that make them feel more depressed or hopeless.
- They identified friends who would be honest with them, those who would sincerely listen, and those who asked questions that helped them evaluate what they were going through—and wouldn’t avoid emotional issues.
- They kept close to their family, shared their concerns and found something positive to think about when they went to bed at night….
- They did not confuse their “self-worth”…… with their “net-worth.”