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It’s About Getting Through It Together: How to Communicate Your Way out of Family Conflicts

It’s About Getting Through It Together: How to Communicate Your Way out of Family Conflicts

How many of you have had fights with your family members before? If you’re like most people, then you should have raised your hand faster than anything! Family arguments are nothing new and have been happening as long as there have been families. These can be caused by any number of things. These might include differing opinions among family members about a big issue, kids wanting more independence than parents want to give them, big changes in the family like divorce or the birth of a new baby, and when you just misunderstand each other and jump to conclusions.

No matter what the root cause of the conflict is, it’s essential that every family works through whatever conflict they’re going through family counseling. This is important so that you can move forward together and not let any resentment stay throughout the years. We all know that it’s no good to hold grunges against another person or people. That’s especially true when it comes to your family members!

In the below article, you’ll find a comprehensive how-to guide of solving these family conflicts without the help of a counselor. Keep reading to learn more and get these conflicts solved ASAP!

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Don’t react! Respond instead.

First off, let’s have a little bit of an update on your science knowledge. Do you remember learning about your “flight or fight” response in school? Well, if you remember anything, then you know that this response is activated when you’re in dangerous or uncomfortable situations. The reptilian part of your brain (the amygdala) is activated and your first response in these situations is to fight off the danger or to flee away from it.[1]

This same response is activated when it comes to your family conflicts. Whenever a big argument starts up, your first response is going to be to retreat from the fight or to yell back at whichever family member is speaking. This is no good if you want to actually solve the conflict. It’s much better if you take a breath and respond carefully to the argument, rather than reacting with your natural response.

For example, if you’re a teenager and your parent is telling you that you’re not getting an allowance anymore, instead of yelling at your parents, take a breather and get to the bottom as to why they’re doing that. Respond, don’t react.

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Understand how you might respond under stress.

Next up, you should take the proper steps to actually understanding what your fight or flight response might look like. This is especially necessary if you’ve been feeling extra stress lately, which can cause these family conflicts. A stressed mind with improper sleep cannot think positively and many times is the cause for big conflicts for petty issues. Exercise, meditation, and proper sleep helps move our minds and thoughts in positive direction.[2] Below are the things you should keep in mind if you’re feeling stressed and you feel your fight or flight response coming on:

  • Denial: You might believe that if you don’t think about the problem, that it’s going to go away or disappear. You might deny the entire problem or you might deny your anxiety about the problem by being extra aggressive and confrontational.
  • Avoidance: You’re aware that the problem exists and is real, but you don’t want to deal with it. So, you avoid it in whatever way is possible.
  • Projection: You deny your own faults by projecting those faults onto somebody else in the family.
  • Displacement: You change the entire topic of the argument to some unrelated topic that’s related to the family member who you’re angry with.
  • Escalation: You become over-dramatic and completely blow up the conflict out of proportion.

Listen your way out of conflicts.

The next step towards solving this family conflict is all about listening.[3] Sure, your first response is going to be to respond to what the other family member is saying and get your point across. But before you respond, understand that an important part of any response is to listen to the other party. Spend a moment in their shoes to understand why exactly he or she is saying these things and what might be making him or her say them.

For example, if you’re that teenager who’s getting his allowance taken away from him, it might be because you didn’t do all of your chores that you should have. Or your parents are facing some financial trouble. Be sure to listen to what your family members are saying and build some empathy.[4]

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Build up constructive discontent.

Next up, we have a concept that you might not have heard so much about – constructive discontent. Basically, this is your ability to stay grounded and focused on your larger objectives during a family conflict. Even though you should listen to what your family is saying, there are some larger goals that you have, as well. This is something that you have got to practice over-time, but if you do, you will be able to use these emotions to your advantage, rather than being held hostage by what you want.

Always focus on the shared objective of the family.

On top of your overall goals, you should understand that your family has plenty of shared objectives. When you’re having a big conflict, always start back again at the center of the table. What are the big goals of the entire family, not just each individual person? Rather than continuously thinking about the differences that separate your arguments, remember what you all are fighting for.

If you’re like most families, then this goal is to love each other and bring each other up, rather than knocking each other down. When you remember this during a conflict, it’s going to be much easier to resolve and it won’t devolve into a bunch of yelling matches.

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Validate other’s opinions and respect their side.

One of the most important things in solving family conflicts is listening to the other side’s opinion, as we have mentioned. After you have heard your family member out, then it’s time to validate. Validation is a crucial part of this process, as it lets other family members know that you’ve heard their opinion and respect their side.[5]

Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their argument! You just audibly tell them that you understand where they’re coming from, but respectfully disagree. From there, you can frame your argument as an alternative to their opinion and explain to them how your alternative can benefit everyone’s shared goals in the family. This cooperation is much more effective than simply yelling back and forth.

Agree and resolve the conflict.

Lastly, you shouldn’t leave any stone unturned when you’re wrapping up the family conflict. When everyone has agreed on a common solution, then make sure that everyone is going to abide by that agreement and understands everything about it. Going back to the teenager and the allowance scenario, maybe everyone comes to the agreement that the allowance should just be lowered, rather than taken away entirely. However…

  • Does everyone know how long that will be for?
  • What is the amount of the allowance will be taken down to?
  • What are the core reasons for this deduction?

It could even be good if you write all of this down onto a piece of paper that’s hanging on the fridge. When there’s a physical representation of the agreement, it’s more likely to be followed by everyone involved in the family conflict.

Family conflicts are nothing new. They’ve happened for as long as there have been families and they’re not going anywhere, any time soon. However, if you want your family to be healthy and happy, you can’t just ignore these conflicts. Use the above how-to guide to bring your family through this conflict and come out the other side better than ever before.

Reference

[1]The Brain From Top To Bottom: The Amygdala and Its Allies
[2]Fashion Furniture Rental: Why Sleep Matters?
[3]Business Insider: How to Really Listen to Others?
[4]Creating Happiness: 10 Formulae to Live a Happy Life
[5]Psychology Today: Understanding Validation: A Way to Communicate Acceptance

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

What is a narcissistic personality?

Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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Traits of a narcissist:

  • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
  • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
  • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
  • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
  • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

How are narcissists different from others?

Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

Why do people become narcissists?

1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

How to deal with a narcissist?

1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

8. Learn when to walk away.

When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

Reference

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