“How can two walk together except they be agreed?”- Amos 3:3, KJV
Do you always agree with your mom, your auntie, your sister, your spouse? I mean, sometimes family can stir us up so, that we don’t even know if we agree with ourselves anymore!
When we’re around family, completely normal events can cause stress.
Published author Pauline Boss of the University of Minnesota writes in her book on Family Stress Management that even if one family member in the home shows symptoms of stress, then the whole family is hit with that stress.
So how do we make family time a less stressful event?
1. Establish Boundaries. People treat you how you teach them to treat you. David was just a little shepherd boy, until he taught his people to treat him like a king. Joseph was just a sibling who ran his mouth, until he taught those around him to respect his gift, including his family. Are you being helpful to your family, or are you allowing them to take advantage of your time, your talents, and your thought space? Only you will know, and only you can make it change.
2. Practice Direct Communication. Don’t assume they know how you feel, if you haven’t told them. Body language can be so confusing sometimes. I remember watching a documentary years ago, which separated folks by gender and by age group. They were to deliver certain messages of interest and desire to engage in conversation via their body language. It seems like all the communication wires were mixed up! Once people explained why they acted the way they did, then the study started to make more sense. But the key behind that is, there was an explanation. Practice direct, loving communication with your family members, so your messages can be clearly heard.
3. Exercise the Power of “No”. You can’t be everything to everybody. There will be times when a lot of people are in your space, such as during the holidays. There will also be lots of favors asked and lots of demands made on your time and resources. Exercising a polite, yet firm “no” can help you clear your conscience, stay focused, and carve out space to support yourself and your needs (www.psychologytoday.com). Knowing when to say no can help us better appreciate the time we have with our loved ones, instead of being distracted by stress and self-devaluing sacrifices.