What Everyone Should Know about Battling their Family Members

23 03 2007

by cg.com GuestBlogger Aaron Potts

Very few people in history (if any) have gone through their entire lives without coming to blows with members of their family at one time or another. Sometimes it is parents and children who can’t see eye to eye, sometimes it is a struggle with in-laws or siblings, and sometimes it is married couples who take it to the ring on a frequent basis.

Whatever iteration of family strife that you have in your life, it is rarely an occurrence that has positive results. Controlling this issue can benefit everyone involved, including yourself.

This article is not meant as a psychological analysis of family trauma. However, at a basic level, family problems can at least be alleviated – if not avoided – by simply learning to control emotional responses.

The issue of who is right or wrong, or what resolution is found for any given situation is not nearly as important as the emotions that are generated during the struggle.

Most people would agree that the emotions that are part of family strife rarely fall under the general umbrella of being positive, which means that those emotions are not going to benefit you, or anyone else involved.

Take a minute to think about it. The last time you had an argument or a disagreement with a family member, was it a pleasant experience for you, or for them?

Well, unless you are the type of person who enjoys drama, most people would say that neither themselves nor the other people involved enjoyed the experience very much.

Why, then, do we keep finding ourselves in those same situations over and over again?

For most people it doesn’t boil down to anything more noble than the need or the desire to be “right”. Some people want to be right for their own personal reasons, while others want to be right because they truly believe that their point of view represents the “greater good”.

In any case, people get entirely too wrapped up in whether or not they get to be right, and they lose track of the fact that they need to control their emotions. In situations of potentially high tension, or situations that have consequences that are deemed by the participants as important, the need to control our emotions becomes even more pronounced.

There is a very appropriate term for this ability to remain calm during emotionally turbulent situations, and that term is “equanimity”. It basically means that even though you are mindful of any given situation that you are in, you still manage to keep a calm and passive emotional stance.

If even one person in any given set of family “combatants” is truly able to practice equanimity, it can have a calming effect on everyone involved.

The person practicing equanimity does not raise their voice, they do not resort to the use of defensive body language, and they do not throw verbal “barbs” or “jabs” at other people as a way of attacking them.

Now, all of that is not to say that the person practicing equanimity just sits there and lets the battle rage on around them. Quite to the contrary, actually. The calm individual can usually see realistic and/or logical solutions to the issues on the table, since their emotions are not clouding their judgment.

In addition, since a compromise that works for everyone is not always possible, the person practicing equanimity is also more prepared to handle the outcome of the situation, even if that outcome does not go his/her way. The ability to calmly and rationally handle the argument itself will also allow that person to calmly and rationally handle the results of the disagreement.

Is practicing equanimity easy? Not at first. However, just like everything else, the more you practice it, the better you get at it. In fact, the more you practice equanimity, the more you want to do it!

Where previously you had been a full-blown emotional respondent during family turmoil, now you get to be the person who is living their life on their own terms, rather than just reacting to the world as it unfolds around them.

Give it a shot the next time you find yourself in a heated discussion. Just ease on back, slow down, and make a conscious effort to keep your voice and your body language neutral and non-combative.

You will see that practicing equanimity will at the very least help you, and it may also serve to help others as well.

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