Families get stuck in patterns of blame and negativity. These patterns are vicious and hard to break. If your family is stuck in a negative pattern, here’s how to change.
This article was originally published by FamilyShare and can be found here.
Human behavior can go to such extremes as constructing delusions that help one escape from painful memories and life experiences. The rather subtle aspect of relational and psychological needs is that they are often invisible or hidden deep within our hearts and minds, sometimes even unknown to ourselves. They are not evident to those around us. We only see the annoying and frustrating behavior. Focusing on and being more understanding of the fact that each of us, as a human being, has personal needs and struggles, will help us to remain more calm in frustrating situations.
Pick a different lens One aspect of family therapy is helping brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers see their family member’s annoying or hurtful behavior with an additional, understanding lens, rather than a negative one. Because if we are to accept Maslow’s idea, at some level annoying or hurtful behavior is an attempt to satisfy a need that we can all relate to and understand. So consider this: That special someone in your life who annoys you may be trying to fulfill a need, even if in an unhealthy and negative way; he or she may not know another way to react to his or her specific need.
Do something about it Understand that negativity begets negativity. In other words, if you respond in like to the negative behavior, it is likely to continue the negative cycle, making you, and others, miserable. Instead, see the frustrating behavior — from your boss, spouse, child, etc. — as a fellow human being trying to fulfill a need that we would all like satisfied (i.e. friendship, status, security, hope and so on). Then help them fulfill that need in a positive, healthy manner. Take compassion on them and see their behavior in a new light. Looking upon those around us with more compassionate, understanding eyes will only improve the situation.
This month marks my fourth year of practicing counseling professionally, specifically family therapy. As I reflect on the last four years, one aspect of myself that has changes comes to mind. That is my relationship with empathy. But before I go on, it might be helpful if I first explain what empathy is.