Family issues can be a bit complex. On one hand we share many similarities, and at the same time, each family member is a different individual. I’ve often been amazed in looking at my children and seeing that they have grown into people with different personalities, ideals, and opinions, and yet have been raised in the same family unit. We can share genetics, the same DNA, and still be very different. It’s part of the beauty of being among others who have separate experiences and unique personality traits.
There is nothing quite like the acceptance and security that comes from the love within a created family. Yet, often our differences can also cause a great deal of distress. I would have to say that the mass majority of family arguments simply come from different opinions. You know what they say, “Opinions are like (and I will keep this clean) noses, everyone has one”.
Empowering each other as family members is not hard but it does take some work. The extent of that work kind of depends on the depth of disagreement. If the disagreement is about something very sensitive then the work might seem a bit more intense. Usually our differences of opinion and desires are at the root of most family issues. Here are some empowering ways to propel beyond family issues.
- Become an active and deeper listener. Listening to understand truly eliminates the bulk part of any issue. A great deal of arguments are simply the inability to understand the others side. Many others are just misunderstandings of opposing ideas. Much of this can be remedied by active and deep listening.
- Put yourself in the place of the other(s). This stealthy little move might seem simple, but believe me, it is masterful! You have almost won the battle if you become the master at doing this!
- Be willing to examine your own ideas and ways of doing/seeing things. There is a lot to be said for stepping back and taking another look at our own ways of processing and doing things. Our ideas might be very good ones but also upon observation someone else might even have a better idea if we take a deeper look. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Try a way different than your own. You might be surprised!
- Don’t assume you are automatically right. Of course you are right for yourself! Most of the time there is no right or wrong in a situation, just a difference in how it is viewed. I’ve seen more conflict just because people can’t put down the need to be right. Even if we do not agree, we can agree to disagree.
- Learn the art of communicating effectively. Take an emotional step back. Not everything has to be resolved right at this moment even when it feels like it should. Taking the emotion out of our communication is the first step toward empowering it. Then think before speaking. Have you ever said something, totally in the heat of a discussion, and wished you had not “gone there”? Need I say more? Once things are said they can be apologized for but they can never be taken back. Practice makes perfect in this area. What we study we become more proficient at. Learn communication skills in advance and you will thank yourself forever!
- Learn meditative patience. This is a new thing that I have come up with myself. It’s a kind of meditative mindfulness that begins to readjust my brain when my mouth is tempted to be out of control! It calms the emotions that are going haywire and soothes the body while processing them. It’s a way of calming the “beast” within. Don’t shake your head like you have no beast within! Envision something that is beautiful and peaceful to you, breathe in slowly through your nose and then force the air out quickly through your mouth. (This instantly relaxes the body. If it does not work the first time, then do it as many times as you need). You can add your favorite scripture, affirmation, or saying. Remember, practice makes perfect here. Don’t expect to do it completely effectively the first time around. Exercise patience upon yourself!
Remember the love part above all else! We are only given one family so don’t wait to appreciate it until life becomes difficult. Appreciate it all now while you can. It might not seem like it to you at the moment, but life has a way of moving along pretty quickly. Life is too short to live with regrets. Do the work now and reap the benefits and blessings of an empowered family!
Rev. Jenine Marie Howry
** Photo credit: http://www.mh-graphix.com