Your family is your center, your core and a huge part of your world. So when your family is disrupted in any way, it’s only natural to feel the effects deeply and on many levels. Sometimes, disruptions can be small, like having a cousin who is always starting trouble, but at other times, these upsets can be huge, such as the death of a loved one or a big move.
While there’s no one right way to deal with a disruption in your family, you can help minimize the emotional toll. Try the following seven ways to handle family disruptions without losing yourself at the same time.
1. Use A Stability Source
Having no control over disruptions in your family caused by others or events you didn’t set into motion can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting. To combat this, you need to create some sources of stability for yourself. When you foster some stability for yourself, you’ll find that dealing with events out of your control will be a little easier and less emotionally draining.
Create a routine and keep doing familiar things. For example, you could start a journal and write in it each day, or make sure you stick to your daily hygiene habits. Try setting an amount of time aside each day for reflection, prayer, meditation or just to think about the things going on in your life. It’s important to note that in very stressful situations, you may be tempted to fall into or return to bad habits. Remind yourself that these sorts of negative things, while either familiar or comforting at the time, will only serve to make matters worse in the long run.
2. Speak To Other Family Members
One mistake family members make during times of disruption is a lack of communication. This can come from pre-existing strains and issues in your family or even from a place of good intentions. A parent, for example, may avoid talking about the death of a loved relative around an older child because they wish to protect that child from any pain or hurt. In reality, keeping emotions and feelings bottled up can make the situation worse for everyone.
Talk to loved ones you trust about the hiccups in your family life. Explain how the events have impacted your ability to do what you’re used to doing, such as seeing your friends or going to school, and about how you are feeling. It’s important to be honest and clear about what’s going on with you because of an upset in the family, so don’t feel as if you need to keep things a secret in order to protect others.
3. Listen To Your Family
When you’re talking about the disruption and your feelings to other family members, remember that you need to listen to their feelings and issues, too. A family is a unit, and for you all to work together and get through this trying period, everyone’s voices need to be heard. You may find that you’re experiencing similar issues as another family member or that someone is more affected by what’s going on than anyone thought. It’s also possible that, with everyone coming together, you’ll see potential compromises that will allow your family to work through the disruption with benefits for all involved.
4. Be Ready To Offer And Return Support
A big disruption can really test the bonds of an entire family, and you want yours ready and able to withstand the force. Be ready to support other family members when they need it, and leave yourself open and receptive to their support in return. Being “tough” can be tempting in times of stress, but you’re not doing yourself any good by trying to carry your load on your own.
One way to do this is by thinking of and scheduling activities that help foster bonding in your family. If family game night used to be a pastime in your house, for example, bring it back and encourage everyone to participate. Ask family members for suggestions if you’re short on ideas or just aren’t sure what they’d all enjoy doing together. Just the act of having everyone vote on a family activity can be a fun bonding time, so don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm and encourage others to do the same!
5. Encourage The Little Things
Be encouraging when it comes to any smaller act that appears to open things up in a more positive direction. This is even true if the act doesn’t relate back to the disruption. If, for instance, everyone seems unusually excited and upbeat about your little sister deciding to go for and getting a chorus solo, run with that, too. It’s something positive that everyone can focus their attention on, like a tiny ray of light in a dark room, and things like that can really help in times of stress and negative emotion.
Bear in mind that hyping little things may not be easy at first. In fact, you may find yourself being annoyed at other family members for being thrilled over small things when something serious is going on in your family. Remind yourself that these types of distractions, as long as they don’t completely prevent your family from working through issues, can provide everyone with a much-needed emotional break.
6. Get Outside Help If You Need It
Sometimes, despite you and your family’s best efforts, you may need outside help. Consider speaking to another person you really trust, such as a mentor, coach, teacher, counselor or even a family member who isn’t in the thick of your immediate family. Hearing things from someone else’s perspective can be a big help, and they may have ideas you haven’t even thought of.
Remember to choose someone you truly trust, so you’ll feel as comfortable and open about the matter as possible when you’re speaking to them. If you decide that you’re not able to talk about it as much as you need to just yet, go ahead and let the person know. Someone who cares for you will not push you to talk about things you’re not ready to be open about.
7. Try To Be Positive
Be as positive as you can. While things may seem a bit bleak now, they will get better, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel can help you move closer toward it. You will also want to trust in yourself as much as possible. It’s very hard to start healing unless you accept that you’ve been hurt, so don’t be shy about trusting your instincts and acknowledging your feelings.
While disruptions in your family will come and go, you’ll always have loved ones to share the ups and downs with. When something upsets your family’s balance, try to work through it and help others as best you possibly can.