Opportunities with Family


Another family weekend, but this time with my husband’s siblings and spouses:

  • Lots of stories from years gone by
  • Catching up on other family members and former high school friends
  • Too much food

This special time leads me to wonder: how many people don’t get together with siblings because of disagreements and stresses from over the years?

When you’re growing up all siblings have the typical issues:

  • Borrowing vs just taking clothes or toys
  • Joking around vs teasing and taunting
  • Play wrestling vs full blown fighting

However, once siblings get to be older, anywhere from high school or college age to adulthood with families of their own and, eventually, taking care of their aging parents, some people find it difficult to ever get past those emotional hurdles. Ruminating about conversations and interactions from the time they were in elementary school, all the way up to the present time, make up the chattering in their minds that simply won’t go away.

Opportunities lost.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more people were able to employ the strategies proven to reduce the snowball effects of negative thinking and negative self-talk?

  • Turning every incident into a catastrophe
  • Placing blame on others
  • Imagining that others are talking about them
  • Exaggerating just how bad something really is

Try using some of these strategies to put the negativity behind you:

  • Post positive quotes in places where they will be easily seen
  • Start a gratitude journal and write five things for which you are grateful every night, and how each thing enriches your life
  • Make a playlist of songs that are upbeat, positive, and motivating
  • Make it a goal to do one act of kindness every day, and keep a list of the good things you do
  • Any time you catch yourself having negative thoughts, recognize that that is what they are, and stop yourself using mindful breathing (by counting your breaths) or mindful listening (by listing, in your mind, the sounds you hear around you)
  • Make a list of positive statements (positive self talk) that you can repeat to yourself in place of the negative thoughts (negative self talk).
  • Notice the impact negative feelings have on you physically, and try to relax in the places where you feel tense
  • Surround yourself with positive friends, people who are generally happy and see the bright side of things.

The fact is, no one is perfect. Other people made mistakes, and so did you. Forgive yourself for your transgressions, make amends where possible, and then move forward…and be prepared to do the same for others in your life.

Holding onto anger will accomplish nothing. As Buddha said,

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Life is too short to carry the upsets from our past; acknowledge, admit, accept…and move forward.

Your days will be happier and more rewarding, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get the opportunity to spend time with your siblings, too.

And wouldn’t that be so nice?

Here’s to hoping you get to spend time with your family soon!

Dr W


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Photograph by Clem Onojeghuo.








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