Three Keys for Family Challenges

Three Keys for Family Challenges

Family can be the source of our greatest joys – and our greatest sorrow. Family is a lifelong journey, and one that doesn’t come easily. For me personally, family is one of my core values. I have spent a lifetime connecting and putting energy into my family relationships, and I hold them closest to my heart.

Sometimes, the people closest to us make choices that can break our hearts. And sometimes – a lot of times – there’s nothing we can do about it.

The hard part for someone like me, who deals with chronic anxiety and autism, is that it can really throw us for a loop that is hard to recover from very quickly. I can’t control my response to people and their choices. But I can control what I do – and today, I have learned some valuable keys to best handling difficult family situations.

Accept our feelings

Things don’t always go the way you plan. When you suffer anxiety like I do, it can be even more challenging, because we have our response to the event, and then we have our response to the response. The key for me is to accept how I feel and not fight it. There’s nothing I can do to change how I feel, or how anyone else feels. It’s best to accept it and allow the emotions to work their way through me. The intensity of these emotions will subside, but on their own timeline. I need to accept that and be willing to feel them and then allow them to go.

Keep lines of communication open

Family relationships are all unique. Sometimes, if someone is harming us, we may need to distance ourselves from them. But other times, we need to stay in contact with them. That means we need to be with the people who are causing our pain or sorrow. In these cases, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Be honest with ourselves and with them. Be present.

Focus attention elsewhere

While we’re processing difficult situations and painful emotions, we can’t focus all our attention on them. It’s important for our mental health that we focus on other things, too. Keeping physically active is key. For me, hiking in nature is one of the best remedies for my mental health. The more difficult things are, the more I hike, because it makes me feel good. I focus on work that brings me joy, other relationships that make me happy, and if opportunities arise, I try to be of service to others.

With family, a lot is out of our hands, and there’s often not a lot we can do when the people we love the most are also a source of our pain. But today, we can take care of ourselves even while being in relation to others, and trust that painful times ebb and flow, and we come out the other side even stronger.

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