Dealing with the “Squirrels in your Attic” (3/25/22)

Our troubles began one morning with the pitter-patter of little feet in our attic. This worried me because, as far as we knew, no one was living in our attic at the time. We soon discovered that a crafty mother squirrel had come in through a loose vent and built a cozy nest for her babies. Les wasn’t too worried. He was convinced they would leave when they were ready. That never happened.

Several weeks later he trapped and relocated them to a park across town. Don’t laugh. Several people told us that squirrels have very good memories and would find their way back if we didn’t take them far enough away! While she was in residence, Mama’s instinctual (and troublesome) behavior included chewing through some wiring and causing problems that were expensive to repair. Because we didn’t take appropriate and timely action, a minor problem eventually became a major one.

Who are the “squirrels in your attic”? What are their troublesome behaviors? Is a colleague’s negative attitude impacting customer service, teamwork, morale and productivity? Is there a difficult person in your personal life – a whiner, complainer, gossip or tattletale? No matter who or where they are, how much longer can you afford to avoid the issue and make excuses for difficult behavior because the problem isn’t serious enough…. yet?

While you’re not responsible for others’ behavior, you are responsible for addressing that behavior when it negatively impacts you or the people who depend on you. We don’t have the power to change other people, but we DO have the power to decide how we will respond to them. We always have options. We can choose to ignore the problem; avoid the issue; make excuses; acknowledge the problem; do nothing; or take action. In any given situation, you have to decide which option works best for you.

When addressing difficult behavior you need a plan. Do your homework. Stick to the facts instead of letting your emotions take over. Don’t be disrespectful. Set boundaries. Let others know they must respect those boundaries. Choose your battles carefully and decide if addressing the issue will result in the best outcome for you. Perhaps the best option is to let it go for now.

Even if you can’t “relocate” the problem person (like we did with our squirrel family) you still have options – including “relocating yourself.” If you’re in a job you detest, working with people you don’t respect, for a company whose values are not in alignment with yours, you have options. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship without safe and respectful boundaries, feeling drained in mind, body and spirit, you have options.

How will you deal with difficult behavior, as necessary and appropriate, before it leads to more serious problems? Taking care of yourself and your emotional and mental well-being is important. Who are “the squirrels in your attic”? What’s your plan?


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