By David Joel Miller.
Don’t let family disagreements damage your mental health.
Families can be a great support, or they can be a great problem. Don’t let family feuds and disagreements be something that damages your mental health. Regardless of what someone else may have done, there are ways that you can stop participating in the problems. While you can’t change other people most of the time, you can change the way you handled the situation. Here are some ways to reduce the impact family feuds may have on you.
Accept them for who they are.
Lots of family conflicts are about trying to get someone to be something there not. There are going to be lots of people in your life who will never be exactly the way you wish they would be. One way to preserve your mental health around other people is to simply accept them the way they are.
You may not like where they live or who they are in a relationship with. If you don’t like their partner or their house, remember that it’s not you that has to live in that situation. Sometimes family members have some very unhealthy friends. We may wish they didn’t have those friends but constantly arguing about it drives them away and back to those friends. Sometimes we just have to be patient until people in our lives are ready to change. Sometimes, as we get older, we find that it’s us that is changing.
They don’t owe it to you to do what you want them to.
Having expectations for family members and friends sets you up for disappointment. What may seem clear and reasonable to you may be something they don’t want to do. Keep in mind that just because you want it does not mean that they owe it to you.
Lots of families have been torn apart because parents had expectations of what their children should become or do with their lives. You may think they would make a great lawyer but if they have no interest in the law pushing them there will make both of you unhappy. Some people have great talent but what’s important to them is their hobbies and their leisure. You need to allow others to have the space to live the life they choose.
Remember it hurts more because they are family.
When a family member hurts you, it is likely to be a lot more painful than if a stranger did the same thing. We may not expect much from someone outside our family. Because of the higher expectations, we have for family when they let us down is even more painful.
Be very careful that you don’t fall into the trap the because they made one mistake or did one thing you didn’t agree with you cut them off forever. Sometimes improving your self-esteem begins by cutting others some slack.
Don’t expect them to change because you insist on it.
A lot of family disagreements are because one person wants another person to change in a particular way. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean they owe it to you. Sometimes you must set boundaries. If your family member does drugs, you may need to keep them out of your house or avoid lending the money.
What you shouldn’t do is hold that period when they used drugs, against them for the light rest of their lives. Don’t hold onto the resentment because someone had to try a different path than the one you would’ve picked for them.
Accept them for who they are.
If you want them to accept you the way you are, then you should offer them that same acceptance. People shouldn’t have to say, do, or be any particular way for you to accept them. Learn the difference between accepting people and insisting that they think can be the way you want them to.
They are typical of other difficult people you will have to deal with.
The world is full of difficult people. Sometimes we have difficult family members. Keep in mind that you will have to deal with difficult people in your life. Some of those difficult people will be relatives.
Sometimes the thing that makes others so difficult to deal with is our insistence on arguing with them about things. Give yourself and them the gift of allowing others to sometimes be wrong without you needing to point it out to them.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books