WHY is my family life so challenging? Part 2
A new way of asking
The “What for?” So that's the magic question.
How is this supposed to be implemented in practice? If my child is in the middle of a tantrum and I'm lying in bed with a headache, it doesn't matter if I say Why? or what for? ask!
Yes, that's right. Establishing a new approach in the midst of a storm is incredibly challenging. Strictly speaking, that's actually not possible.
The real change happens in our thinking and whether we become aware of what is going on. Therefore, the actual work does not have to be done first in the conflict situation, but much further beforehand - in the encounter with ourselves.
In this place within you lies the key to change. No matter which family member expresses the rude behavior, the situation will change if you change, because as a family member you contribute significantly to the overall atmosphere.
Remember how I mentioned in Part 1 that with every new person in the family comes a whole new world?
You too are a world of your own. Just as in nature a small insect meadow makes a huge difference to the entire surrounding ecosystem, you make a difference in your family.
Your “What for?”
I now invite you to take some time to explore your own goals in conflict-filled situations. Nothing needs to be critically questioned at first, remembering that our goals always want us to feel valued, accepted and loved. This need cannot be condemned.
So you are welcome to venture into your inner self joyfully and curiously, without a club, and observe: What is going on inside me when I withdraw in an argument with my partner or when I react triggered and scream in a conflict with my children? Why am I screaming? To scare my children or make the situation worse?
Definitely not. I scream to end the situation because it's too much for me and I actually want peace. I scream to feel empowered again, to regain control.
Because deep down I believe that if I lose control, I am worthless as a mother/father and am no good at receiving the respect and esteem of my children. Maybe I'm even unlovable because they can't look up to me?
Now it cannot be denied that retreating or screaming does not lead to the desired goal. This is why it leaves everyone involved so unsatisfied and the situation becomes increasingly unbearable.
So why do we continue to pursue unhelpful behavior? Here, too, it is important to continue researching: Maybe I just haven't learned a new strategy yet. The old one was probably given to me from my own parents' house and it became a regular habit.
At such a point, the quite joyful task of adapting our behavior to our inner goal arises so that this can also be achieved and everyone involved experiences that the family dynamic can change in a satisfactory and pleasant direction.
Once we become aware of these previously unconscious internal processes, we gradually become more aware of our own behavior, even in difficult situations, and over time we learn through practice to adapt to our why? to remember and take a deep breath:
What did I want again? Oh yes, I want to be seen, understood and loved. Instead, I just turn around and leave the room. That doesn't get me to my goal.
But what if I'm still so emotionally stuck in the conflict that I don't feel capable of acting differently?
Maybe a compromise will help: I turn to my partner and say: “I don’t feel seen. Now I can't talk. But I'll come right back and try to explain myself again. Are you waiting for me?"
This is just a small insight into the possibilities that arise from changing the question.
In keeping with the cover photo, it remains to be said:
At its core, what brings us closer together as a family is our passion for the idea of family, the intimacy that this constellation can contain, our desire to belong in a group, the love and support we can experience when our dynamic changes. If we as a family have a common goal to experience and benefit from these blessings of life together, the passion for it will move us forward.
The process can and should be a joyful one. The more we remember the treasures of family life, the more we can create a “we” that sees others more as part of the same team.
Would you like to find out more?
You will find what you are looking for and gain deeper insight in Alfred Adler's individual psychology and the books “Children challenge us” and “Basic Concepts of Individual Psychology” by Rudolf Dreikurs.
If you would like to find out more about the topics of family, pregnancy, mindfulness, nutrition or sustainability, take a look here .
AUTHOR: SARAH ACKER