A Family More Attuned
What do families need more of? We need to provide a foundation and environment that builds trust and connection. In my practice, I work with families where often this is missing and has for generations. I believe we would experience less pain if we were more attuned in our family relationships. Dr. John Gottman created an acrostic for marriage that I have tweaked more for families, using the word Attune. This means to come into an awareness of something. When we get into our cars, we set our favorite radio station and tune in right? The ones we love and care about the most need us to do the same.
First, we need to be more aware that we are all created, not something to be constructed or fixed. It is important that we embrace others uniqueness and celebrate it.
Secondly, we need to be aware or pay attention to the feelings of others within the family. This requires getting out of our selfish head and focusing on someone else and noticing when something has changed.
Another practice is turning to each other’s emotions. When you see someone in your family appears to be sad or down about something, ask them what they need or express care and concern. We can even turn to their anger when it’s expressed, to help them process and release it. You might say, “I can see that made you angry” or “You really seem upset about something.”
Tolerance is a big one and this extends to outside the family, to others. We need to tolerate someone else’s different perspective and not be so reactive. It’s acceptable to not agree all the time and on everything. Let their opinion exist and matter to them. You will get your turn to express what is important to you.
Understanding requires active listening. This involves more intentional focus and listening in a way that communicates I really hear your heart, I understand where you are coming from or I know what you value. If people and families learned and practiced good reflecting statements like these, they would be more connected, less conflicted and flourish.
Defensiveness will damage relationships. I think the reaction is defensiveness when we are personalizing what someone says and does, it’s all about me, myself, and I. We feel so easily attacked or offended when someone When someone in the family has a difference or disagreement, do not personalize it. It’s when we personalize, our natural tendency is to defend.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes or meeting them and walking alongside of them in their time of need. Seeking to understand how others think and feel is a powerful cure to pain.
The bottom line is if everyone in the family is more attuned to each other’s needs, the result is everyone’s needs get met.