A thought on interpersonal communications… with your family..

Isn’t it interesting, how even people with the same background, as that of those brought up in even the same family even can be so vastly different?  Every single person that God has allowed to grace this earth, is unique in so many different ways. If anything it should be another sign to us that there is a God working up there.

You always hear advice from people when you are young, to try and find a partner who is “from a similar background”, to hopefully reduce some possible stress and problems with your significant other. While I can see the logic in the statement, I think it is definitely a point that can be contended, because all it takes is the “Holidays”, or a few “Family” events to bring out “night and day” differences in even those who were raised the same as you.  Families are not easy to deal with, and maybe its even more frustrating at times, because they are your family, and not someone you can just avoid or disregard. No matter what, there will be a point when you will have to deal with them.

Everyone has this picture of what “Family” is supposed to be like, and everyone has individual expectation that its supposed to live up to. I think that sometimes it is these “ideal family” expectations that are dangerous, and end up causing more problems than they are worth. Not only because everyone’s “Ideal” is different, but because when you focus on the “Ideal”, it makes you less willing to adapt to what actually IS.

In the family I grew up with, more problems were (and still are) created by the way people would react, then by the original situation. Emotions can run high with little regard to common sense, or logic.

In this current society, I don’t think that is a trait that my family had “cornered the market” on. It is a personal goal for me to detour from that cycle, but I’m not perfect, and their are times I will react before thinking, and usually whenever that happens, I get to a point where I realize that my reaction probably fueled the problem more than the initial problem did.

That thought really hurts sometimes, because it really hurts me to think I’ve done anything that has caused anyone else unhappiness.  So then I feel that I have to apologize for my part, which no one likes to do. Even more uncomfortable when it gets brought up over and over again, and the event didn’t seem to evoke any sort of the same self-awareness in the other party. I know personally though that if I didn’t apologize for my part, I couldn’t feel ok with myself – despite knowing that in some instances, I’m unintentionally taking on the full blame in the others eyes.

Self-evaluation is a very important tool to defusing some of what life sends your way. Granted, it is not always pleasant to evaluate yourself. Its difficult to make yourself responsible for actions, but I think what gets forgotten alot is to also make yourself responsible for your reactions.  I’m talking about not only the reactions that are apparent to others, but be especially aware of the ones that are only known by you, as those can be even more damaging.

The older I get the more I believe that attitude is everything.  If you concede to have a negative attitude, that is a choice that ends up tainting all other aspects of your life. It can end up affecting your well being, your health, your relationships… everything. It spreads until it has at least a small hand in everything you do.

Attitude in reality, is much more of a choice than the permanent fixture we have allowed it to become in our lives.  It is an aspect that we actually have power over, but yet is something that as a people we consistently resign to it, and let it rule over us. This is why we have so many Depression issues. Because we aren’t nurturing our spirit we seem to give negativity total power to perpetuate itself in our future thoughts, and that is a big problem.  It is important to actually review the content of your thoughts periodically, and make sure you are in the right frame of mind.

All that is Self-evaluation is a hard enough to work through on an individual level…. and then..

BAM! Look its the Holidays!  Lets throw 20+ or –  very unique individuals, all with their own baggage, all with their own struggles, and all at very different levels of “Self-awareness”  and attitudes all in the same house.  Play nice now! 😛

Late advice I realize, as the big holidays are mostly over but maybe for next year.. 🙂

So my thoughts on dealing with even difficult situations with family during the holidays…

#1. Realize that you love all these people, even the difficult ones. Remember that the most challenging individuals are probably the ones that are needing to know they are loved the most.

#2. Don’t fan the fire. I’ve seen it occur on multiple occasions where people “take sides” in arguments that aren’t even their own. As heated as you may feel about a situation, don’t do anything that will make it more difficult for the parties to reconcile. Even comments made in jest can be disruptive. I have never ever seen sarcasm fix a problem, only love, and understanding. If you have to contribute, be thoughtful, and try to only contribute things that will foster love, and understanding.

#3. Be respectful. So many problems could be resolved with this simple outlook. Be respectful of others, try to think of their feelings. Once in a while, you will have to deal with people who cannot be pleased, or that absolutely everything hurts their feelings. Realize that you have no control how others internalize situations. Just do your best to not encourage more discord.