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092215 - Shame Game

We sat crowded around the kitchen table less than a stone’s throw from the main farm house, two young frustrated farm couples and me, the farm coach. My eyes met the eyes of a daughter-in-law (DIL) whose ready tears were about to roll as I explained that sometimes in the culture of agriculture there are unrealistic expectations pitched on the folks who are trying their hardest to please.

I simply asked them to finish this sentence for me:

The work on this farm is never done. No matter how many hours you put in or how hard you try, it is never __________”.   “Enough” they all chimed in unison.

“Never enough.”

This is the shame game that is toxic on family farms that needs to stop now. You cannot function well in a workplace where you are always feeling like a failure. As someone said, “Failure is an event, not a person.”

It’s time to do some serious soul-searching and ask yourself if you acting like an unrelenting judge of those on your farm team who are trying their best to work hard and yet raise an emotionally healthy young family.

Find Brene Brown!

I encourage you to hit the TED.com site with your spouse and watch Brene Brown’s transparent account of listening to shame. Go online and buy both of her books: The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. You’re going to need a manual to refer to as you change your thinking. The perfectionists who are never pleased are going to wish courageous conversations confronting their nasty, addictive habits would stop.

The thing that is going to stop is shaming.

In Daring Greatly, Brown uses a quote from Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt’s speech in l910to launch the key ideas of how we can dare to be different, letting go of guilt and shame.

Brown’s definition of guilt is  “I did something bad”. Her definition of shame simply is “I am bad”. No, you are not. You are a gifted, capable person who just happens to be stuck in a toxic farm. Brown sees shame as a sense of being defective.
“Our worst fear is being criticized or ridiculed, either one of these is extremely shaming,” Brown says.

What are you going to do about it?

I received an email at Christmas from a young farmer who decided to move out, get a place of his own, buy some equipment gradually, and make his own way. I was pleased for him to see action steps that were helping him to move away from being shamed. Nothing he ever did to help his folks was ever appreciated, or good enough.

Another young farmers voice cracks as he explains he can longer stand the “financial guilt” that he feels. What he is asking for is gifts without strings attached, and freedom to make his own financial decisions on the farm without being scolded with “I told you this was a stupid thing to do !”

We don’t need to dredge up lots of nasty examples to make my case. We all need to offer concrete steps to slip off the jackets of guilt and not accept being shamed.

I am wired for positivity and empathy. I am curious if this could be the year that you spend some time in counseling, read Brown’s works, seek out God’s wisdom in the Bible, talk to clergy, and journal to reflect on what is working for you in your life, and what is not.

As the oldest child, I am aware of my birth order tendencies to be responsible and run to take care of others. But as my Westjet attendant reminds me, we need to put our own oxygen masks on first, and then look after those beside us.

Is the tension on your farm so great that you are losing your breath? Breathe. Seek out professional help. Know that every morning you wake up with a choice as to how we are going to be in order to step away from the shame game.

We are human. We make mistakes in how we act and speak. We are also forgiven. Jesus Christ gives me my model of forgiveness. I can apologize for bad behavior, be forgiven by the person I have hurt, and then let go. I can also work to make things right, with the intention of not causing hurt again.

What is your intention? Do you want to stay trapped and stuck in the muck of your farm scenario, or are you ready to reach out for help and a new way to feel? The economic forecasts may be causing you stress, and I don’t take financial pain lightly, yet each day we eat well and sleep in a safe warm bed. We can count our blessings, and decide to pull out the thorns in our lives. Brown suggest that gratitude is helpful in daring greatly to make things different.

Chuck Swindoll, a wise preacher, suggested that you should cut negative people out of your lives unless you are married to one, and then he encourages you to seek counseling. If you feel your are “married” to the farm, then you also have work to do to re-frame your thoughts, and actions to be able to cope with those who chose to throw muck and shame your way.

This is not easy to write, but as I age, I seem more compelled to speak about the trends I see on farms that are not helpful. It is my heart’s desire that every reader would enjoy a long, happy, and meaningful life on their farm, and in their family. Tell your family that you cherish them. Then do it.

 

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

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Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
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Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
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Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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