Preparing yourself

Sharing your home is much more than sharing a physical space.

Each person’s mindsets and emotions within the home create a type of energy that can be felt. Being around organised, positive, and supportive people will make you feel happier and enjoy your home more. With some planning and preparation, you can ensure your household starts in the right direction.

Let’s walk through 5 main questions to prepare your mindset for companion housing.

1. Your WHY

Why do you want a housing companion?

You would not be here without reason. Chances are you want to improve your health, social connectedness, and financial resilience. However, think a little deeper. What is your desired outcome, and how valuable is this to you for the short and long term?

Having a clear understanding of what you want to get out of your experience is necessary to ensure you reach your goals. The path to reaching these goals is unlikely to be without some challenges. Directing your focus on the big picture will help you work through small obstacles, giving you the resilience to reach a better place. This mindset will help you work through the small inconveniences of sharing space to obtain greater benefits.

2. Your Ways

Why do you do what you do?

You have likely been doing things the same way for decades. You likely learnt these ways from your parents or by observing someone. There is a good chance that your new housing companion will do some of these things differently, especially if they come from a different background. As you begin to embrace a companion housing lifestyle, you will experience many changes in your life. Now is an opportunity to review these things and prepare yourself to make positive changes to help you reach your goals.

How will this make you feel if the way they do things seems strange to you? Are you willing to listen and learn why they do what they do? Are you willing to be patient with them and teach what you have learnt?

Now, how would you feel if your housing companion refused to listen to you? How would you feel if they refused to try doing things differently? You would likely feel frustrated and resentful; perhaps you would want them to move out! These feelings can go both ways, so treat others as you want to be treated. This may sound trivial. However, even the best of us often forget these lessons from childhood.

People often feel the greatest reward when they continually give and receive. For this to work, you need to keep an open mind while being thoughtful and clear with your communication.

Example scenario:

You like to do some stretching in the living room first thing in the morning while the home is quiet. On the other hand, your new housing companion wants to get out of bed and turn on the television right away to watch the news while they drink coffee.

Each of you has found a morning routine that you have become accustomed to. Who is right in this scenario? Each person is neither right nor wrong. However, you each have your reasons why that particular routine works for you. Will it drive you crazy having the TV on in the home early in the morning? Perhaps it will not bother you at all; maybe it will. Now is an opportunity to learn from one another and understand how their routine helps them. Share a goal of being healthier with your housing companion. This could be an excellent opportunity to help each other develop a better morning routine.

The key lesson is not trying to control or change the other person. You each have different routines, which are acceptable as you are each entitled to live your own independent lives. If your routines conflict for some reason, discuss how you can work together. Perhaps you will begin to share a common morning routine, such as a nice walk outside.

Self awareness exercise: Log a few days of your typical routines and habits and consciously think of why you do it. It will be important to share your routines with future housing companions to determine if there could be a conflict.

3. Non-negotiables

We all have things that drive us crazy. These are things you do not want in your home or for your housing companions to do.

How does it make you feel when you walk into the kitchen and the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes? How about when someone walks around with loud footsteps at night? These are common scenarios that often lead to conflicts in the home. Being able to communicate all the things you absolutely cannot tolerate is essential. 

What are things that you absolutely must have?

Everyone has things that they must have in their home, some big, some small. Perhaps you need 4 hours in the kitchen each Sunday to prepare your meals for the week or a quiet place to study.  These are items that are essential for your lifestyle, which you cannot compromise on. Suppose you do not clearly communicate what these things are and how important they are for you. In that case, your new housing companion will not understand the significance, and it will ultimately lead to conflict.

Tip: Make a list of your must-haves in order to live harmoniously and keep it on hand for when you interview prospective housing companions.

Failure to set boundaries quote Dr. Brene Brown

4. Personal boundaries

Boundaries are an essential part of every companion home to establish healthy rules so you feel safe and respected. The boundaries you set provide a structure to measure and hold each person accountable. Failure to establish boundaries may lead to hurt emotions and feelings of disrespect. If left long enough without being addressed, this may lead to personal attacks instead of addressing the underlying issue.

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

Examples of areas we can set boundaries:

  • Personal space and physical boundaries
  • Thoughts and emotions
  • Possessions or ‘stuff.’
  • Time and energy
  • Culture, religion, and ethics

Signs you might be crossing someone’s boundaries

  • avoiding eye contact
  • turning away or sideways
  • backing up
  • limited conversation response
  • excessive nodding or saying “uh-huh”
  • voice suddenly becomes higher pitched
  • nervous gestures like laughing, talking fast or talking with hands
  • folding arms or stiffening posture
  • making quick or nervous movements

Tip: Start with establishing boundaries around sharing objects and spaces. These are easy to navigate and don’t hold much emotional value. Once you develop more of a personal connection, then it will become easier to discuss more in-depth boundaries.  It might also help to write down your boundaries before discussing them with your housing companion.  

5. Special considerations

When we think of a normal reaction or way of communicating, subconsciously, we are thinking of a neurotypical response. Simply put, neurotypical is what you would expect a person of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities to do in that situation. However, people are inherently very diverse, which is where the term neurodiversity comes from. This means someone with a normal response that is different from most people’s “typical” response. An example of being on the spectrum of neurodiversity is autism or another developmental difference from the norm.

Neurodiverse people may have difficulty starting conversations or holding eye contact. They may have physical or speech patterns that are very different from yours. If you are not aware of their neurodiversity, you may interpret their behaviour as disrespect. The key point is not to assume, instead ask how you can best communicate and do your best to cooperate.

Exercise

Prepare yourself for a successful companion housing experience!

Complete the self reflection exercise by clicking the link below.