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5 Wise Ways To Invest Time You Have To Learn by Age 30

5 Wise Ways To Invest Time You Have To Learn by Age 30

Our life is short, our time is limited. If we’re not spending our time in a meaningful way, we’re wasting our life. Rizwan Aseem has shared on Quora how young adults should invest their time to lead a positive and successful life.

Invest your time in the following activities and you will gain more power, money, friends, love and affection.

Your friends will look up to you for your courage to do the things that they’ve only just dreamed about, your family will look up to you and be proud of your many achievements.

Your colleagues will become jealous of your stratospheric success. They will look towards you for advice on how to become successful.

If you don’t do these things, 10 years down the line you will wonder where all your time went, and what you did wrong to become such a failure.

Here are 5 things you should invest your time in everyday to become successful.

But a WORD OF WARNING…

If you try to do all these things at the same time, you will fail. So pick one of the things mentioned below.

Learn how to do it. Figure it out. Then spend one month to learn how to do this better. Practice it every day for one month before taking on anything else.

When one month is over, this will become your habit and you will be able to do it unconsciously. By then, it won’t seem very hard if you add another thing from the list below.

Within the year you’ll be doing each of these things unconsciously and will have developed an arsenal of habits that will support you for the rest of your life.

The Power Of Creating Good Habits

The biggest secret that man has discovered over the last few decades is the power of habit. Once a habit is established, it lasts for a life time.

Developing a habit in the beginning seems hard, but once you’ve mastered something and made it become your habits, things will be easy.

Think about tying your shoelaces. How do you do that? Do you loop each lace and then knot them, or do you loop one and then knot the other lace through the loop?

Each of us ties our shoelaces differently. But once we get this, we’ll tie them each time the same way, without even thinking about it.

This is the power of habit. This is the first thing you should invest your time in.

A habit is usually formed when you repeat something in the exact same manner everyday for at least 21 days. Some habits take longer, some shorter.

So to average it out – invest 30 days to establish each habit.

The 5 Most Powerful Habits That Anyone Can Learn

These 5 habits will support you throughout your life.

Whether you decide to become an academic and do multiple Phds, or are an athlete trying to become professional; whether you are a mother wanting to give your kids a better life, or a high powered business woman seeking venture capital investment; these habits are universal.

1. Take Care Of Your Body

No matter what you do in your life, you will do it in your body. You cannot replace it, get a new one, or trade it in. This is your body and you will live in it.

It might not be the perfect body that you want, but this is the one you have. If you take care of it now, it will take care of you when you are 60, 70 or 80 years old.

The way to take care of your body is simple. Eat less and exercise more.

Spend 30 to 60 Minutes Each Day Exercising.

This does not mean that you should join a gym and start pumping weights. It means that you should work every muscle in your body.

Spend conscious time to move the muscles in your arms, back and legs. Take the time to join a gym and workout and use your muscles. Do this because most of us now spend more time sitting on couches than moving around.

The human body is made to move around to do things. That’s the first thing to take care of the body. Learn this habit first.

Spend 30 to 60 minutes each day exercising.

Eat Food that is Fresh & Healthy

The next step to take care of your body is to eat well. Treat your body like a home. This is the home where you live.

If you bring good things to this home, the home will become nicer and you’ll enjoy living in it. If you bring rotten stuff into this home, the home will decay and you’ll hate living in there.

So eat good stuff. Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can everyday. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet. This will give you the energy that you need.

Play a Sport that You Like Everyday

This is something that will help you relax your mind. While this can get you moving physically, this gets you out of your head and to be present in the moment.

The rush of the moment will help your mind relax for a minute and focus on the present instead of being stuck on analyzing the past or estimating the future.

Additionally the competition will rejuvenate you. Competitions in life are what help us grow. The more competitions we have, the sharper, faster and better we become.

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Unfortunately in the current environment that we work in, we can’t get immediate feedback on competitions. Most of the time at work, we are working in teams where we need the team to succeed. But our personal success is often based on the failure of other members of the team. For example, you can’t become the manager of your team if everyone on your team also becomes the manager of your team.

Taking up a sport will give you the immediate rush of competition, the instant feedback of success or failure, and you will grow.

Avoid Junk Food

Junk food as the name suggested is junk. It’s useless, worthless for the body. It doesn’t provide the nutrition that your body needs.

If you feed your body with junk food, you will become lethargic, you will lose energy and over a period of time you will gain weight and lose health.

Eat food that is free of preservatives, sugar, corn, syrup and overly loaded with salt and carbs.

These sugar and carbs have an addictive effect on the body and will cause you to crave them more and more causing your body to become dependent on these foods.

Good foods will make your body strong and healthy. Addictive foods will make your body lethargic and rotten.

2. Take Care of Your Mind

We are living in a time when we do most of our work using our minds. We sit in front of computers to develop ideas and create stuff with our minds.

If you are a construction worker who lays bricks, or a day care assistant who helps kids, this is true for you too.

Your mind is the one thing that controls your thoughts, and the thoughts that you have everyday create the reality that you see.

The mind, like anything else, has the characteristics of a muscle. You use it or lose it. And as long as you are using it, it will remain fit and healthy. The minute you stop using it, it decays and rusts.

So how do you take care of your mind?

Read Every Day

There is no difference between the person who does not read and the one who cannot read. Spend 30 minutes every morning and night reading.

Read motivational books. Books about philosophy, economics, politics, literature. Read fiction. Read self-help books. Read about parenting, read about health. Read about science and technology.

A book has a very permanent nature. It is written with a lot of thoughts and research. It is the gist of an author’s life experiences. So read a book everyday.

This will keep your mind stimulated and open to ideas. You will get a number of ideas for each author that you can implement in your life. You will also get opinions from across the globe.

You would not be able to reach many ideas if you only spoke to the people you met everyday. So spend 30 minutes reading every day.

Write Every Day

The only way to bring your thoughts to reality is to write them down. If you don’t write them down, they will be lost to the electric impulses inside your brain.

Write your thoughts down, write down the ideas that come to you, and write your philosophy about life.

Write ever day. This will help you clear your thoughts and formulate complete ideas.

If you have a problem, write it down. You will be able to come up with a solution better once you’ve written down the problem.

If you have a crush on someone, write it down. Write down the things that you like about that person, how it makes you feel, what you would do for them.

Writing down all these things will help clarify your thoughts about love and life, about right and wrong.

As you progress in your writing, read about how to write better. Then write better.

The better you write, the better you will think.

Develop Your Mind In Other Ways

The more neural connections your mind has, the faster it functions, and the better it fights against disease like Alzheimers in old age.

You can create new neural connections in your mind by doing new things. The more new things you try, the more active your brain will be.

Even if you suck at something, the experience of learning and trying it out will still develop your mind.

Listen to and watch things that will develop you mind. Instead of watching TV dramas, watch TED Talks.

Instead of listening to ‘distressing’ music, listen to sweet, kind music like Mozart’s and Beethoven’s.

Plan to learn a new skill every year. Pick up playing an instrument every year. Spend time learning this instrument like this will be something that you’re going to play for the rest of your life.

The next year learn to play a new sport. Something that you’ve never tried before. This will both improve your muscles and your mind.

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Avoid Junk In You Mind

Just like your body needs good food to run, your mind needs good fuel to run.

If you feed your mind with junk ‘input’ like mindless television, excessive drama, or constant news coverage whether it be TV or newspapers, your mind will become lethargic and fatigued.

You will lose the will to do things, since your mind will associate doing things with depressing news.

So avoid news and junk TV programmes. This will give you space in your head to do things that will build up your mind.

Take a look at the world news today. Pick up the newspaper and read the editorials in your newspaper. Then go online and read the newspapers of the country that those editorials were about. The opinions in those editorials are completely different.

You won’t be exposed to different point of views from only the news. The news will only report the ‘bad’ shocking news that create anxiety and fear.

A better way to be exposed to other cultures, mental stimulation, and discover what’s going outside your own home is to travel, or meet other people.

Nothing in the news will impact your life on a daily basis. If there is something that impacts you – you will hear it form your friends and family before you see it on the news. You won’t miss what’s happening in the news – people will tell you anyway.

Excessive news will only stress you and make you feel like you can’t do anything, and become indifferent to the sufferings of others. A better idea is to discover issues that affect the community you live.

If you think a TV show is good – write down what you like about the show, then go out and experience that yourself. Meet people and do the same stuff in the real world.

This will give you the habit of becoming an action taker, getting in the game instead of sitting on the sidelines watching others.

If you like House of Cards – go volunteer with a political campaign to learn what really happens there, instead of watching someone else’s version of real life.

If you like Mad Men, intern for an advertising agency in your town. Learn in the real world – not sitting on your couch. For sure your friends will have a lot of opinions about what ‘cool’ stuff you’re missing out, but while they are warming the couches, you will actually be having more fun than they are.

You’ll be living – not watching life from a couch.

3. Take Care Of Your Relationships

In life you are born with very few people in your life. Your parents. Your siblings. Your grandparents if they are still alive. Your cousins if you are close to them.

Every other relationship in your life you have to go out and create. You make friends along the way. Some of them are good, some of them are not so good.

These friends that you make in your life journey will become your support system; the people you meet everyday, from the grocer, to the kid working at Best Buy.

You’re probably thinking, “who cares about these people…” but down the line it is these people, these relationships that will matter most to you in your life.

Remember Birthdays & Anniversaries

Even if your friends tell you they don’t celebrate birthdays, and even if your family becomes sullen when you call them for anniversaries, remember them.

Even though people say they don’t care, everyone cares about their own special days. When you remember their birthday and anniversaries, they will remember your kindness.

But it doesn’t end there, try to remember the special moments in their lives. If they are going to deliver a baby, remember the date and call or write a card to congratulate them.

Yes, even these days, a phone call or a card has a HUGE impact than a Facebook message or text. Over the years your kindness for others in the form of remembering their special days will snowball and you will become a powerhouse.

It’s good to know that someone cares about you – both for them and for you.

Don’t forget your friends when they had hard times in their lives. If their grandparents passed away,help them get over those moments.

When you need them, when your loved ones leave you, your friends will be there to catch you before you fall.

Forgive Them Before They Ask For Forgiveness

In the long scheme of life, small things don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if your friend forgot to tell you first about their new job; or they didn’t tell you about the girl they were proposing to.

Be a gentleman and forgive them in your heart even before they ask for forgiveness. Then let the incident go. They will realize you are a big hearted person and treat you the same.

But when you do this – don’t resent them after. Really forget the incident and forgive them.

This is more for you, than for them. If you keep holding onto the hurting feelings that any one has done to you, then your baggage will become so heavy you won’t be able to go through the door.

You’ll be stuck inside your own head and no one will want to be around you. No one will want to trip on your baggage.

But if you do forgive them and forget the incidents, you will be free. Your carefree nature will be reflective in everything you do and everyone will want to be around you.

Avoid Emotional Vampires

No matter how good you are to people, occasionally there will be some who are vampires. They suck all the time and energy out of you.

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Sometimes you will encounter them at your workplace. Some of them will be your childhood friends, or even a member of your family.

No matter what you do, you can’t change them, you can’t help them improve, you cannot guide them.

So the best thing to do with these people is to avoid them. Though it might hurt you at the beginning, it’s the best thing for you to do.

You can be kind and make an excuse for not meeting them, but that will not last long. So take a bigger step and let them know that they are an emotional strain on you – and you’d rather hang out with positive people more.

People who support your goals, your dreams, your aspiration, and people who share your ambitions and values are the people who will really help you grow.

The vampires will get hurt – but there is no better way to deal with them. The sooner you get rid of them the better.

Really dig deep and find out the people who bother you in your life and stop hanging out with them.

CAUTION: If it turns out that everyone in your life seems to be a vampire, you either need to change them all, or look inside yourself and change yourself.

Most likely, the conclusion will be to change yourself and your attitude towards them.

4. Take Care Of Your Finances

No matter how you grew up, in abundance or poverty, it is your duty to take care of your own finances.

Even if your parents have taken care of them for you, even if you have a trusted fund, even if you have an empty bank account, you are responsible for it.

If you take care of your finances starting today, they will take care of you when you most need them. When you are old, or sick, or sending your kids to school, or helping a parent through sickness, your finances will help you.

If you don’t take care of your finances you will end up in debt. Your shoulders will droop and your mind will be gripped by thoughts of money. You will end up living the life of an indebted servant, where you have to work to pay of your debts.

Get Positive Cashflow

To begin taking care of your finances, you need to have more income than you spend. You need to have more savings in your bank account than your spendings.

Most people don’t learn this until after they get their first job or after they’ve maxed out their first credit card.

As long as you have a positive cashflow, you can get other things in your life a lot easier. If you don’t have a positive cashflow, spend the next year or two to get a positive one.

Spend the next 15 minutes ti figure out how much money you spend, including the rent for your house (or your contribution to it if you’re living with parents), utilities, groceries, car, internet, insurance, and other expenses on entertainment.

Once you’ve figured out your expenses, take them out of your income. If you have no income, then you have a negative cashflow. Do whatever you can to get a positive cashflow, teach other people, pick up a second job, or mow lawns.

What do you do after getting a positive cashflow?

Pay Yourself First

Every cent you earn will be spent on other people. The government wants it in the form of taxes; the bank asks for the mortgage payment, insurance, car payments… and so on, until you don’t have anything left in your account.

So before this happens, pay yourself first.

Get into a retirement scheme where they take 5 to 10% from your salary and put it into a gratuity and provident fund. Then when you get your salary, take another 5 to 10% to put into another account for your retirement.

Because you have this money sitting in your account – you won’t become a slave to anyone, no one will control you.

But you can’t just get a small amount and then stop. This is a lifetime practice. You have to keep adding money to this account until it becomes big enough to invest in assets that make money for you.

Avoid Financial Sinkholes

If anything sounds too good to be true – it probably is. There’s a few things to avoid when you’re taking care of your finances.

The Stock Market

Most people will tell you to invest in it – but don’t. Only invest in a S&P Index Fund at best if you really want to. Even though some friends of yours will tell you they have a big ‘tip’ on a stock that could make you millions – don’t invest.

Investing in the stock market as a habit is not a very productive habit. Some days you’ll do well, other days you won’t.

When you do well you’ll be on top of the world; when you don’t do too well, you’ll become anxious, stressed, or even suicidal.

If you made 50% one year, you’d not probably make another 50% the next year. If everyone could make 50% each year, anyone could be Warren Buffet.

It is the job of people in Wall Street to invest, they are professionals and very good at their jobs; yet they sometimes fail still.

In Wall Street you are always playing against the professionals. In a sport you will play most days with people on your own caliber. So you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. However, in Wall Street you’ll lose a ton. Professionals will beat a hobbyist.

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Business Opportunity

If someone tells you that you can make a million dollars in 3 years by investing a small amount of money, or any other such scheme – don’t listen to them. Shut the door, hang the phone, and kick them out. If it’s a friend – stop meeting them again.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own thing. If there is a business that you think you can run – go for it. Just don’t fall for Biz-Op schemes.

Lottery Schemes

If you are tempted to buy a lottery ticket, or you can win a cruise trip, or that you will earn X number of points, run away – don’t walk, run away!

Credit Cards

Yes, even the lovely credit cards. These are probably the worst things invented since the dawn of time. Credit cards don’t increase your spending power – they just make it seem that your spending power has increased. You still have to pay for what you bought, plus interest.

It’s great that you pay your bill in full. Most people don’t. This habit of paying for full on a credit card is great. But there is a flaw in this habit…

The average credit card debt in the US is $7,000. Most people can’t pay that off every month, so many are paying for very expensive credit card debt.

Someone did think that they could make the complete payment every month, then got stuck in and is now paying less than the whole payment.

Points, miles, bonuses is a way of getting you to spend on your card, until you get behind on payment. The system is more patient and disciplined than you can ever be.

A better alternative is to save for what you want – then when you have the cash, then buy the thing that you want to buy.

Here’re three benefits of this:

  1. The thing will in all likelihood be cheaper by the time you’ve saved for it.
  2. There will be a newer and shinier model that you can now buy with the money you saved.
  3. You will realize that you didn’t want it in the first place anyway and were going to buy it on an impulse.

These sinkholes mentioned are all just ways to get a single $1 out of you. Don’t give them the dollar. It represents a part of you, of your life. You might think “what’s the big deal about a dollar?” But a dollar properly invested can become the greatest fortune in the world.

Read the story about how the Native Americans sold Manhattan for a $1, and how much that dollar would be worth today invested properly. Hint: It is worth more than the value of all the buildings, land, and businesses in those buildings on Manhattan – put together.

5. Take Care Of Your Communication

The biggest problems in the world arise because of mis-communication. People mis-understand each other.

Spouses fight because they don’t understand what was being said.

Employees get fired because of a communication error.

Friends fight because of something that was mis-understood.

Communication errors cause major problems in relationships between friends, employees, board members and even countries.

So take care of your communication. Become a communication master. Become someone who can communicate clearly communicates effectively – not just in your speaking, but in your writing and your thoughts.

Communicate At The 6th Grade Level

This is one of the most important thing you can do for your communication. If you can explain things to a 10 year old, you can explain them to anyone.

Just by communicating at this level, your communication will be understood every time. Your kids will understand you, your parents will listen to you, your employers will ‘get’ you.

In fact by communicating at this level, every one around you will think you are wise that you are able to explain complex ideas in the simplest of manner.

Learn The Vocabulary Of Whatever You Are Doing

By learning the vocabulary of what you are doing, you will learn faster; you will be understood quicker; and your responses will be to the point.

In every profession, there’s a variety of vocabulary. The faster you learn this vocabulary and use it in your conversations, the quicker you will rise.

If you play tennis, learn everything that the pros are saying. Learn their meaning and then when you talk to your friends about tennis, using the vocabulary will enhance your game.

The same applies to your profession. The sooner you learn the vocabulary of the profession, the faster you will progress. But this isn’t a technique, use it to enhance your overall vocabulary.

Putting It All To Work For You

Putting these habits into action will enhance your life profoundly.

You won’t feel it at once, but as you progress and spend more and more time on this, the results will multiply and compound.

By the time you turn 30, you will have more friends who love you, more employers who want to hire you, and more energy than you can ever imagine.

But on top of that, since your life will be built around a number of activities instead of your job only, you will be more fulfilled and happier.

Every year, the results will speak for themselves when you apply these ways in your life.

Featured photo credit: People sit at night round a bright bonfire via shutterstock.com

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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