Updated: Oct 4, 2020
What do Happy Families have in common?
With COVID19 cases back on the rise it seems we will likely be in lockdown for months to come. Being so close for so long has put pressure on many families. For this reason we tried to distill into a few core tenants what happy families have in common.
What follows are five principles...each with their own symbol so we can better remember them when times get tough. We also included emergency strategies for dealing with family problems.
We welcome you to join our efforts and suggest changes to existing or new principles.
Happy families surround themselves with people that they want to emulate and that share universal principles. Positive communities support each others families by helping other to remember first principles like "Charitable Interpretation" and strategies like "Just Give a Hug". A positive community is available in times of need to listen, facilitate understanding, and avoids judging or other bad behavior.
Happy families try to take the most positive and optimistic interpretation that of other people's actions. We should assume that other people, especially family members, have good intentions. This helps us to avoid jumping to negative conclusions. If someone says something hurtful we should ask questions to clarify instead of assuming that their intention is to harm.
Most of you know about the golden rule, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." but we like the Silver Rule even better...“Treat others the way they want to be treated.” To do this you need to know the other person. Every person is different, and every person has their own unique personality, love language, and preferred communication style. Love others they want need to be loved.
Trust Not Fear
In the movie the Peaceful Warrior it brings up the concept of absolute vulnerability. Absolute vulnerability is when you are completely vulnerable to the people you love instead of getting defensive. This is hard because its the people you care about most that have the power to hurt you. But when we trust that they are trying to help us we can let go of our fear of rejection and disappointment.
Emotional Bank Account
The Emotional Bank Account measures how much stress a relationship can take. When we do something nice we make a deposit. When we hurt someones feelings we make a withdrawal. If the account runs low then even small things can cause big arguments and hurt feelings. Before this happens, we should make deposits and avoid putting stress on a relationship. This is especially true for people that live with each other because we often don't realize all the little withdrawals we make.
Here are some strategies we recommend for dealing with family problems. You are welcome to suggest others.
Give a Hug
All families go through rough patches. Sometimes people argue. Sometimes feelings get hurt. When this happens we might know what to do. But we can always give a hug. Hugs show we care even if we don't know what to say or don't yet have the strength to say we are sorry.
Say I Love You
Above all...Love. Let others know that you are here to support them when they are in need. You can always say "I Love You" even when you feel angry. You can always say “I’m here for you and everything is going to be okay.”
Say I’m Sorry
We can always say we are sorry...even if we don't think whatever happened is entirely our fault. You can say "I'm sorry that your feelings are hurt" or "I'm sorry that I didn't do better". Feelings are complicated and we can always do better.
Say Thank you
You can always give a complement to show your appreciation. Say “thank you for everything you do.” Remind them of reasons why you love them and are grateful to have them in your life.
“A warrior is not about perfection. Or victory. Or invulnerability. She's about absolute vulnerability. That's the only true courage.”
Those that are closest to us can sometimes hurt our feelings. That is because we care about what they say and do. This makes us vulnerable, and that is ok. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we are telling the other person that we care about them. We show that we are humans with flaws, and that make us approachable and trustworthy.
"You should trust and not fear the people that love you ... even though they are the people who can hurt you the most. Let down your weapons and hold hands so that you stand together against the storm." - Sumay
Call Safe People
Safe people are members of your Positive Community that are there for you when you need help.
Sometimes we all feel alone, helpless, or misunderstood. Maybe you just had a fight with your big sister...or maybe your husband is acting more thick headed than usual. Whatever it is we can all sometimes benefit from talking to a safe person.
Safe people are true friends. First and foremost that means they listen to you. They won't pretend to know more about your life than you. They won't pass judgment on you or your family. When you tell them about your struggles they won't derail the conversation by talking about theirs. They care about your relationships and can help you remember first principles and strategies for handling emergencies.
Avoid talking to people who bring you down or set a bad example for how to treat others. For example, when we are angry or upset we should avoid talking to people who might encourage our anger, take sides, or worse. People do this sometimes because it is an easy and cheap way to make us feel better in the moment and in the process make them feel more important. By saying, "You should be angry" or "What a horrible thing they did" they validate our emotions making us feel safe and free to share with them. But at what cost?
Safe people care about your family. They means they love you AND your relationship with your sister. That means they love you AND support your marriage. They listen carefully and ask thoughtful questions. They help to de-escalate stressful situations so that we can avoid doing things we may regret. They remind us that we are all flawed people, but that we all deserve love, friendship and understanding.
By Sumay and Aila McPhail ... with help from Mommy and Daddy