Navigating Family Conflict

I’m about to be real as fuck with you so grab a seat and hangout if you dare.

On Easter, I was really emotional about spending the day without my family. I’m not religious and I’m not Christian, but I am someone who values time together as a family. And though I don’t specifically believe in Jesus, I believe that holidays represent time to be spent with and deepen the bond between family, or those you consider your family.

Mine was well aware of the sadness I felt being without them that day, so we were over the moon to spend time together on the vacation we went to in Lake Tahoe last week. We were hit hard as a family 6 years ago on Easter because we almost lost my dad due to a lifetime of illness. We said our goodbyes to him, resulting in the worst day of my life so far. He had emergency surgery, one that statistically he shouldn’t (as we were told most likely wouldn’t) survive. So to say we’ve harbored emotions stemming from that event is a massive understatement.

But shortly after reuniting, I immediately felt the disconnect and tension overwhelming any room we were in together. And it wasn’t because we don’t love each other, or respect another or enjoy each other’s time..it’s that we all have some deep seeded shit we hadn’t aired because we only come together as a full family maybe twice a year. It just turned out that we hadn’t honored or respected the emotions that each person was going through and that greatly affected us as a unit.

Between my mom, sister and I, we’ve shared a lifetime of anxiety and anger towards circumstances out of our control. And though no one is to blame, not even our dad, we weren’t respecting our emotions enough by keeping them internal and tucked away, allowing them to grow like weeds out of control. So in true nature, our truths exploded.

Cut to a morning of anger, resentment, fury, and sadness and you have me packing up our belongings in the car and taking off to head back home. I was angry that we wouldn’t sit down as a family and talk about the things restricting us from having a fun time together. A couple of blocks down the road we hear that everyone is finally willing to have a sit down and air our shit out, so we turn around.

After hours of talking, crying, and expressing ourselves, everything finally came to the surface. Our feelings were released, and after simply honoring our truths and saying them out loud, they dissipated. The playing field often isn’t ever even in a fight or argument, it’s wether you’re willing to accept someone’s love and see that they are sorry for hurting you.

You’re going to fuck up. WERE ALL GOING TO FUCK UP. We’re humans and it’s in our nature. It’s how you rise after that fuck up, and how you show up for yourself and others.

If you ever find yourself wondering how to go about conflict resolution, these are some tips for doing so.

1. Recognize that your feelings and emotions are valid and are deserving of some TLC. They deserve proper attention, no matter how small or big.

2. Make sure that you have cooled off from any anger you may have felt or experienced from what triggered your issues to arise.

3. Ask your family if they are willing to sit down and talk about issues that are creating a divide.

Often times this can the hardest step. It can go one of two ways. Either your family will be resistant, as many people are, about confronting their feelings or yours. Depending on how self aware they are, they may react in a way that is undesirable. Many people are only able to meet you as far as they’ve met themselves, so try and remember that when taking this step. The worst that can happen is they say no, which in that case at least you tried to resolve the problem. If they do, take the space you need and give them the space they need until you can revisit it as an option.

The other way is that they will agree to a discussion, and that’s when the real work begins.

4. Once you sit down and are ready to talk, open the conversation about why you are gathered together in the first place. Do your best to speak from your heart and not your opinion. Ask that when you do talk, everyone waits until the person is completely done talking until they want to respond; this way each person feels they are heard. Because everyone deserves that chance.

5. After hearing each persons point of view, see if you can collectively come up with resolutions to said issue.

A tip from the latest little voluntary self led therapy session that I was in is to remember that you all are together because you love one another. Even if there are no resolutions, though it’s rare that there isn’t one, at least you all aired out your truths. There is a veil of tension that is lifted even by speaking your truth to existence. It lightens the room, even if you still think one another is wrong.

Regardless of opinion, your truths are displayed and heard. It is possible to coexist with differing opinions because we do it EVERYDAY. It’s about respecting each other enough to know that even though our opinions differ, we can still respect each other.

This was recently after our Lake Tahoe trip where the energy was much lighter. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from perfect!

I hope that you have found some knowledge that you can apply next time you have family conflict, or any conflict for that matter. Thank you for being here, and connecting with me.

Xo,

Tori

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