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4 Tips for Handling Family Conflict

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In a world with endless ways to customize your life, there’s one glaring component you can’t choose: your family. While there are some slight caveats to this claim, for the most part, your family is inherited, not selected. As you grow into your own, you might find that your family dynamic is at odds with your beliefs. In other cases, family members might bring tension, conflict, and unwelcome energy into your otherwise happy dynamic. No matter the source of the conflict, how you manage them in the moment and after will impact your well-being.

1. Strengthen Your Mental Wellness

We exist in a universe full of differences, challenges, and conflicts that are outside of our control. However, one thing we can control is our response to external forces, even if they are out of alignment with our beliefs. Cultivate your ability to protect your wellbeing and strengthen your mental tenacity by caring for your mental health. Engage in therapy where you explore your current state, learn coping skills, and work through challenges in a safe space. Everyone benefits from therapy, even if your life situation is without turmoil.

Individuals who already manage mental illness or are in a season of significant change should invest time in their wellness. Make lifestyle adjustments to manage stress, eat a healthy diet, and exercise to care for your body and mind. Step away from the hustle and begin mental health rehab to dedicate time with a support system to guide you. By prioritizing your mental wellbeing, you’ll establish a foundation of mental wellness that has you prepared for whatever life brings.

2. Assess the Situation Before You Act

Tune into your spatial awareness and get a read on any situation before you respond to conflict. Pull back from the noise and be aware of the room, its inhabitants, and the mood. If you’re at a holiday gathering, chances are many people are together for the first time in several months. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and if there’s conflict, now is when it’s put to the test. Get a read on if you’re in a good place to converse and similarly, if they are, too.

Consider the time and place and determine if it’s best to lay low, de-escalate, or engage in challenging conversations. In some cases, avoiding conflict or specifically triggering people can be the healthiest choice to make. If you, they, or both of you are on edge, it’s likely to cause more harm to butt heads. Other times, setting differences aside is the most mature thing to do, especially if an argument could harm others. Conflict or not, escalating a long-held argument doesn’t need to take place at a wedding, child’s birthday, or grandma’s 100th.

3. Come from a Place of Curiosity

You likely already know not to start a statement with “you,” which innately directs blame or assigns responsibility to others. Instead, place yourself in a state of constant curiosity, asking why others interact how they do. Think about this yourself, digging deep into what you know about your family member. Generational differences, life experiences, and traumatic events play a major role in how we live long after the events.

If your uncle is incredibly crass, bordering on abusive with his remarks, think about why that may be. This exercise isn’t to give him a free pass, rather, it’s a way to practice empathy and understanding. Try to gauge how his life experiences have informed him to think that his behavior is acceptable. Maybe that’s how his father spoke or perhaps that behavior was common among his generation.

The next time he makes a crude remark, ask questions like, “what did you mean by that?” He’ll be forced to come up with a why, which oftentimes sparks realization about how inappropriate it is. As he’s attempting to explain, he might end up apologizing or sharing more about his reason. While it may not be a good one, you’ll make your boundary known, and he’ll have something to chew on. Another prompt is to ask, “can you say that again?” which might squash an otherwise embarrassing remark to repeat.

4. Learn and Set Your Boundaries

As you learn more about yourself, you discover what is OK with you and what isn’t. However, articulating those things can be a bigger hurdle than looking inward. First, explore your individuality and establish what you’re comfortable with. Some people enjoy spicy jokes, political debates, and curse words, while others prefer more conservative, neutral conversations. There’s no wrong answer for you, or anyone for that matter — we enjoy freedom of speech and opinion.

No matter your preferences, you can set boundaries regarding what you’re comfortable with and you can expect others to respect them. There’s no need to put out an all points bulletin about your boundaries, but you can prepare your responses. If conversations about the political climate are off limits for you, kindly request another topic.

Respond with, “politics aside, I’d love to catch up with you on what else you’re up to these days.” This shift establishes the limit while putting your interest on them, not the political drama of the day. Most people enjoy talking about their interests, and it feels good for someone to ask. Shift the conversation toward something you both can enjoy and leave the conflict out of it. This way, you can make family engagements more enjoyable for everyone and protect your wellbeing.

Strike a Balance that Protects Your Wellbeing

Focus on understanding yourself and what you need to feel safe in any situation. By nurturing your mental wellbeing, establishing boundaries, and practicing articulating these things, you can navigate nearly any dynamic. Empathize with others and be curious about their perspective while setting your boundaries clearly. When you do, you’ll be able to handle any family conflict that life brings your way.

Medical Device News Magazine
Medical Device News Magazine provides breaking medical device / biotechnology news. Our subscribers include medical specialists, device industry executives, investors, and other allied health professionals, as well as patients who are interested in researching various medical devices. We hope you find value in our easy-to-read publication and its overall objectives! Medical Device News Magazine is a division of PTM Healthcare Marketing, Inc. Pauline T. Mayer is the managing editor.

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