Aid Application Frustration

Doing the same thing over and over again, hour after hour without success. The channels are clogged for people out of work applying for government aid. So too for small businesses that face insolvency in a matter of weeks.

What this process takes is very emotionally taxing, frustrating and discouraging for most people. Yet this is what many of us, our family members, friends and neighbors are having to do with financial survival at stake. We see on the news that some people are keeping count of the number of times they have called and not gotten through or applied online and pushed the final submit button and nothing happened. It can be hundreds of times before success comes. Many people are still in that process.

There is a way to minimize mental/emotional wear and tear. These same things work for applying for jobs, when we are at that stage.

First, treat this like a job. This is now what you have to do. Approach it with the same discipline. On this job, you are both boss and employee. The boss part of you makes the plan. The employee part carries it out, even when you don’t feel like it. This really helps. Maybe even physically put on different hats for each role.

Second, as boss, make a plan. What is the task? What materials do you need to collect to make the applications?  Establish a work schedule similar to your usual workday. Set start and stop times. Build in breaks. If you live with other people, let them know your schedule so they will not interrupt you. This can be hard for small children and pets. Set up a conducive workspace to do the task, like phone calls or online applications. Does some music help? What kind?

Then, as employee, follow the plan. Gather the materials. The work task is done repeatedly until an application is successfully filed. Some paid jobs are like this anyway. Keep the schedule, including breaks. Don’t let feelings and thoughts distract you. They are not helpful. You can indulge them when you are not working.

Will counting the number of attempts help? It may for some people, as a mark of your accomplishment. For others, not.

You can’t afford to have the mindset of failure. With each attempt, you are doing what you are supposed to do even if it is not successful. No, “I’m such a loser” kind of thoughts. Be a good supervisor to yourself. Be encouraging. With each attempt, many others are doing the same thing at exactly the same time. So, it is just a matter of luck when you will get the application submitted.

If you are calling to make the application, when you get through to a real person, help make their day. Don’t complain. It is not their fault. Be pleasant, maybe even with some humor. Theirs is a stressful job.

Then, be grateful and relieve. Yes. We are all in this together. That is how it works.

The Greeks and Romans called luck Fortuna.

Good fortune to you.

Feeling Good While Falling Short

Human beings tend to take responsibility for things outside our control. It goes way back. Early humans assumed natural calamities where somehow their fault, that they had offended the gods and were being punished. We still have that inclination we must counteract with reason. Children blame themselves when their parents’ divorce.

The most common source of stress is where needs and resources don’t match up. Where our resources are not adequate to deal with what we are facing. Sometimes that stress is self-induced because our perception is off. Either things aren’t as bad as we think (which the anxious mind can do), or our resources and abilities are more adequate than we think (which the depressed mind can do).

Today, around the world, stress is based on the reality of the situation more than not. Hospitals are understaffed, undersupplied and underfunded. Professional can’t meet the needs with their usual standards. People are dying that wouldn’t be otherwise. Individuals can’t make their rent obligations. People need more food than they can afford. All kinds of resources are inadequate to meet the demand.

And so, we help each other out. Some would argue that the problem is a matter of distribution. There is enough food in the world. There is enough money. Those things are just not in the hands of the people who currently need them the most. It is a justice issue.

That said, individuals are burning out because their resources, including time and energy, are not adequate to meet their responsibilities and needs. Of course, people need to do the best they can with the resources within their control. Beyond that, we must psychologically limit our sense of moral responsibility to what we and others realistically can do and feel good about that. Let’s not be hard on others because what they can do is not enough. Hospital workers, first responders and decision makers must care for themselves by going to bed feeling good about what they were able to do, not focused on how they fell short. People going to the food bank for the first time should feel good about how well they manage what they have and not shame themselves that it isn’t enough. When you manage your money well and still can’t pay the rent, don’t lose pride. This is what love of self looks like.

On the other side, let’s not fault people for what is not within their control. And let’s stop others when they do so. This is what love of neighbor looks like.