Family Feuds


Family relationships provide a certain link to your past and future that you can’t get elsewhere else. Whether you have a close or conflicted relationship with family, it can help to have better communication and understand the dynamics you all play, so you can reap the benefits of close family relationships if at all possible.A connection to family provides a certain type of social support that you can’t get from other people.

Provided they aren’t severely emotionally toxic, we can generally depend on our families in times of crisis for emotional and practical support. Who better than siblings, parents, and other close relatives can reminisce with us about our childhoods, or remember pieces of ourselves we’ve forgotten? This connection to fond memories, support in times of need, and near-unconditional love is a unique way that family brings us happiness as well as relief from stress. Unfortunately, with the complexity of these relationships, they’re not always easy.

Dealing with difficult people is never easy. But while it may be better for your stress level and even improve your health to eliminate strained relationships from your life, it’s not always a simple undertaking when the difficult people are relatives, co-workers, or people you otherwise must have in your life.Social support is a great stress reliever, but relationships can also be a major source of stress, as conflict is virtually inevitable in any relationship. You must learn how to manage the conflict in a respectful way that yields positive results.

When people get together with their families, they often regress to the behavior patterns they had when they were younger, as that’s how we’re usually most experienced in dealing with parents and siblings. It can be stressful to feel pulled toward old patterns.

Stay Focused: Sometimes it’s tempting to bring up past seemingly related conflicts when dealing with current ones. Unfortunately, this often clouds the issue and makes finding mutual understanding and a solution to the current issue less likely, and makes the whole discussion more taxing and even confusing. Try not to bring up past hurts or other topics. Stay focused on the present, your feelings, understanding one another and finding a solution.

Listen Carefully: People often think they’re listening, but are really thinking about what they’re going to say next when the other person stops talking. Truly effective communication goes both ways. While it might be difficult, try really listening to what your partner is saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t get defensive. Just hear them and reflect back what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Then you’ll understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.

Own What’s Yours: Realize that personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If you share some responsibility in a conflict, look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.

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