Communicate Deeply With Your Family

by Edmund Celis, July 19, 2016.
The love of a family makes life beautiful
Photo by Edmund Celis.

Love in the family is peace for the world.

Try to communicate with all your family members and remove any negativity that may be concealing itself deep within.

If you can establish peace and love within the family, you can begin to become aware of the underlying psychological mechanisms that may trouble your other relationships in the world.

Practice listening with your full being, as described in my article, “Listen with Love.”

Try to gather all of your immediate family, such as siblings and parents, and perhaps start with a dinner, but do not start talking about uncomfortable subjects until after the dinner. Everyone should be involved and it might be a great lesson for even the younger children in the family to watch how a healthy discussion of problems is resolved in the family.

Allow each person to speak about anything that is bothering them or something that they need to talk about.

Once a person begins to talk, no interruption should be made and everyone else should try to listen respectfully.

Then once there is a pause or an appropriate opportunity, someone else can now speak. This taking turns allows each person to have space to be and release the negativity that has been bottled up inside. As a listener, you can pay attention to the speaker both in what they are saying but also to the nonverbal messages that are being expressed.

As the listener, try not to judge the other person’s words or character.

Simply observe and feel the energy of the moment both outside you in the conversation as well as within you. If you start to feel tense, remember my article, “Feel the Body and Relax”.

Feel your body, breathe and relax. In this state, you can better contribute to the conversation by being gentle with your words and sensitive to others’ needs.

In my family for example, my father and sister tend to be aggressive and loud while my mother and I tend to be more passive and quiet. My brother, who is 14 years old, is somewhat of a blend but I think he tends to be more sensitive as well. In a recent family discussion, we had bouts of angry discourse, where I even was a bit angry and loud, but by remaining calm and listening intensely to the conversation as well as my body, I was able to remember my breath and relax.

By being aware of your tendencies in the family, you can learn to balance the discussion by having all of your immediate family members there. Each person plays an important role in channeling the energy of one another and also being sensitive to those who share similar propensities. You are indeed a balance of both your parents' DNA (as well as your own experience of course).

In our family conversation, there were points where we would talk and it just seems like we would just rant about random things but this is essential because it allows each person to release this contained negativity within themselves.

When someone else is talking, try to just listen and do not judge. Allow them to be. What you are doing here is communicating on a deeper level, the level of being.

This is equally as important as the subject matter of the discussion, and sometimes, more important.

However, allowing them to be does not mean you are not listening to their concerns. Just listen and observe your body at the same time. If you are listening, you are not concerned about what you want to say. There is that urge of course when you want to say something but another person is talking. But just relax, listen and give them your attention.

Sometimes, we just need to be heard. No matter what the other person is saying, which you may find pointless or offensive, just listen to them fully with your whole being.

The main topic of a recent family discussion was the tension between my parents. We allowed them to both speak and voice their concerns. Both of them tended to attack each other negatively and pointed out all the things that bothered them about one another. Both of them wanted change in behavior from the other person. As mediators in the discussion, my sister, brother and I laid out options that my parents could practice.

As laid out in the phenomenal book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher and William Ury, the problem should be faced side-by-side rather than pointing fingers at one another, and options for negotiation should be plentiful and offered by all parties (I sincerely recommend this book. It was required reading for a Diplomacy and Globalization class at UCLA). Most, if not all, conflicts can be negotiated in some worked-out middle ground. As the book states as its main points,

  1. "Separate the people from the problem"
  2. "Focus on interests, not positions"
  3. "Work together to create options that will satisfy both parties." summarizes these points on their webpage.

We ended our family discussion by saying that these conversations should be as often as possible to practice what we have learned. No one is perfect and change does not happen overnight. We will certainly fall back to old behavior but with reflection and practice, we can slowly break old habits. As Edgar Allan Poe said,

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

So, if you revert back to old habits, don't put yourself down, for you are now aware of the behavior and can try again next time. Everyday is the test for you to change.

In the end, we cannot change others. You can only change yourself. Be aware of your conditionings, and as you learn to transcend them, see how others are affected around you. As, Mahatma Gandhi said,

"We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do."

If you sense a problem in the world, observe your relationship with your family. You may find many problems in your family. However, start with yourself by calming your mind and body and allow your true self to shine. This transformation in you, in which you are conscious, is powerful, as Gandhi described, "the divine mystery supreme." There are no problems that you cannot face, even in the family when you are conscious. In fact, problems cease to exist in your mind and you flow with life as necessary, and as a result, the world around you becomes more peaceful.

By practicing healthy conflict discussions in the family, we create peace and love at home. By creating positive energy at home, we can begin and end each day with less negativity in our hearts, mind and spirit. If you don't have a family, realize that each and every human being is your family.

Communicating to others is your opportunity to create a foundation for love to prosper in the world.
Here is an audio of the article as well.

Please see my article on diversity: "Diversity Educates".

back to Blog