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Chapter 9: Family Waves - from WAVES—NOT SPOONS: Managing Our Physical, Emotional, and Social Energy
As the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you don’t get to choose your family.
While this is true with respect to our genealogy, it does NOT govern our actions.
As human beings, we are free to choose with whom we associate as well as how much we associate. And while every choice has consequences, and some persons may find themselves in untenable situations through seemingly no fault of their own, ultimately, the choice to interact with others is our s and ours alone.
I say this NOT as a fact to be debated, but as a perspective from which to view our world. I say this because the simple perspective that we are choosing our life has a degree of power and facilitates that relaxed and focused state.
Conversely, perceiving that we are helpless and/or trapped is far more likely to leave us feeling anxious, angry, and afraid.
We’ve already reviewed how a relaxed and focused state is the foundation for establishing empathy and rapport.
This is no more important than when communicating with family members with whom we are likely to have a lifelong relationship.
That said, we may or may not choose to open up and establish empathy and rapport with every member of our family.
We may also establish boundaries. We can choose how often or in what ‘doses’ we interact and communicate with some or all of our family members.
Holidays and family gatherings can be particularly challenging or stressful for some folks.
As we’ve said several times, Trust your Feelings. Trust your gut.
Another key difference between communicating with family members is that there is almost always a strong common ground or sense of relatedness with family members.
This strong common ground can provide a solid basis for communication (empathy and rapport) or it can bring with it, baggage (anxiety, anger, fear) which can greatly interfere with communication, empathy, and rapport.
Another strong factor in family communication and relationships is association. For better or worse, family member will often have preconceived ideas about other family members based on their familiar associations.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and, “Like father, like son,” are just a few example s of judging by association.
That leads us to matching and mirroring to establish empathy and rapport with family members. Please do not underestimate the power of these techniques, again found in Chapter 19: Empathy and Rapport Techniques.
One more saying that’s applicable to family dynamics is, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
Try keep old feelings and/or past mistakes from clouding the present. If appropriate, be willing to forgive the shortcomings of others as well as those of yourself.
And again, give yourself the time you need to rest and recharge your communication batteries between personal interactions and family events.
This is an excerpt from "Waves—Not Spoons Managing Our Physical, Emotional, and Social Energy". Click here for more on Waves--Not Spoons.