Managing Family Conflict with Respect

Managing Family Conflict with Respect

It is an unusual family that does not, at some point, go through a period of conflict. Work, money, relationships, growing children, wider family – all of these can cause arguments within the household. In fact, given that problems are likely to arise, many psychotherapist feel that is healthy that these are brought out into the open. However, it is thought that up to 70% of people have a difficult relative somewhere in their household, in the immediate or extended family.

So, let us consider some of the ways families can manage their disagreements with the kind of respect that will not only resolve conflict but enhance relationships.

Know your position

As much as we may not wish to face up to it, many conflicts are actually our own fault. Sometimes, we are unclear of what we expect from others. Therefore, we become frustrated when our relatives or close family fail to live up to the expectations we are not clear about ourselves. We become angry with them, and they return the favor. I suggest you write down our expectations of others, to clarify them for ourselves. The process of organizing thoughts in writing is a useful tool for identifying what we feel.


Make it a priority in developing good listening skills. Often, poor or unsociable behavior stems from a person feeling that their concerns are not considered. An effective, active listener gives the person the opportunity to express their feelings. However, active listening can be difficult for some. Most of the time, when we think we are listening we are actually preparing our next comment. Equally, however unpalatable it may sound, we must give the person the opportunity of saying what they wish to say. Unacceptable comments can be challenged later. Finally, a good listener shows that they are listening. Eye contact is made, an open body position is maintained and the listener nods, or repeats words to show that they are empathizing.

Is it the “Problem” or the person

Focus concentrating on the problem, not blaming the person. For example, your thirteen year old son has been caught smoking. Rather than losing your temper, issuing impossible threats and ruining any chance of a sensible dialogue, find out why he was smoking. Consider the influence of peer pressure. While he needs to know that there will be some consequences, involve him in the process of setting them. Most of all, explain the dangers to his long term health.


Stress the importance of negotiation. When a conflict arises, it is rare that all parties do not feel that they are mostly in the right. While we may start from this position, recognition that to resolve the problem everyone will need to make a shift in their stance will help. This means that people are less likely to back themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape.

These are four general ways in which conflict can be respectfully addressed. Where such measures are insufficient, families should remember that professional help is always available. Better to sort a problem quickly, before it becomes entrenched.

Grief and Disbelief-The Impact of Hatred and Violence On Your Mental Health

Grief and Disbelief-The Impact of Hatred and Violence On Your Mental Health

Do you find yourself increasingly sad and irritable lately? Do you believe current events in the national news sphere have an impact on your emotional wellbeing? What happens to your beliefs, ideals, and mental health when you think about the impact of what’s going on in America? Let me share an experience of my own I had last week. 

After a long, tedious workweek, I looked forward to a relaxing weekend with my family. I returned from that weekend feeling refreshed and turned on the television to see what was trending in the news. To my surprise and horror, I came upon the tragic occurrence in Virginia. I sat fixated on the television for hours and asking myself is this really happening in 2017. I’ve always had a tendency not to watch much television for obvious reasons. However, after tuning in and watching the rallies in Virginia, and watching thousands of individuals dispelling and disassociating themselves from the evil and hate going on in America, I thought now would be good time to shed some light on the sadness, anxiety and anger many individuals are experiencing around this time.

First let me say, the American Psychiatric Association(APA) issued a statement condemning discriminatory violence and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) issued a statement calling on President Trump to show leadership by naming and condemning white supremacy in all its forms. If you’re feeling sad and angry because of what’s going on, consider it normal. In fact, consider it human. The turmoil in America is bound to have an effect on Americas citizens. We all long for a peaceful America and a peaceful world to live in, to share with our children, and to leave behind for them to live in. Constant reminders of the conflicts and clashes going on are bound to create inner turmoil that coincides with the outer turmoil.

When watching violence on television, you may notice that violent scenes seem to trigger symptoms consistent with anxiety such as worry, restlessness, fear and ruminating thoughts of impending doom. You may also experience symptoms consistent with PTSD such as avoidance, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances or dissociation reactions like flashbacks, particularly if you have a history of trauma. These emotions can be very difficult to manage without the help of a licensed clinician.

A healthy way to affirm your experience is to accept, acknowledge and process them. Accepting your emotions means allowing yourself to feel them and to grieve for your loss of relative peace. Acknowledging your emotions means to be honest and transparent with yourself about the anger, worry and grief you experience. Accepting and acknowledging those negative emotions is an important step in coping. The next step is to practice daily self care and self love. Be mindful and understand that conflict is not new, nor is it permanent. In many cases, conflict can lead to social and societal changes that bring necessary reforms. When those conflicts strike, allow yourself to experience the gamut of emotional challenges they bring. The key is to simply not allow yourself to let go of hope, promise, and the possibility and probability of a better tomorrow in the process.

Your Secrets Will Make You Sick

Your Secrets Will Make You Sick

I know many of us have read  or heard the story TMZ broke about this incident over the past few days with Houston rapper, Z-Ro and his ex-girlfriend.

As a psychotherapist, here in Houston who works with high conflict individuals, couples, families, and groups, I wanted to weigh in on this situation.  I’ve read so many comments stating, “She’s wrong for speaking up three months after the alleged incident,” and “She’s trying to capitalize on her upcoming show or make money off this incident.” Then there are comments about Z-Ro and a history of abusing women and yes-he-did-it/no-he-didn’t-do-it comments.

None of us know the truth about what goes on inside a relationship between two people.  However, we all know intimate partner violence is nothing new. As a matter of fact, research from the CDC shows that one in four women has been abused at some point in her lifetime. Research also shows that men are being abused as well, just at a smaller percentage. One in four women? With those statistics, If we’d all keep it real, there’s a good chance we all know someone, or you are that someone, who is in a similar intimate partner violence situation, just barely escaped it, or recently came out of it.

In my practice with women who abuse, men who abuse, and my overall work with high conflict individuals, couples, and families, I hear of every type of incident you could think of as it relates to intimate partner violence. The idea of waiting weeks, months, or years to report domestic violence is not uncommon among victims of abuse. I’ve heard stories of women waiting twenty years to report incidences of violence due to fear, shame, humiliation, and trauma. These victims also site their wish to simply survive, take care of their kids, and stay alive as other reasons for not reporting the abuse. I also hear from men who are remorseful and embarrassed of the violence they’ve perpetrated against their significant others and children.

I noticed several comments on social media asking  why or how people remained in that type of relationship. There are several individual, societal or relationship factors that indicate why a person might choose to enter into or remain in high conflict, abusive relationships.  As a child who witnessed violence growing up, I, too, once questioned what would make a person remain in a violent relationship. Violence is a learned behavior, thus in speaking or working with domestic violence victims or perpetrators, my first objective is to seek and understand where did he or she learn such behaviors.

As a society, I encourage each and every one of us to explore our own relationship, reflect on the behaviors we witnessed growing up, what we’re modeling and representing to our children, and how we treat each other in relationships. Make today your last day of allowing your personal secrets of shame, embarrassment, and humiliation to have power over your life. Your secrets will literally make you sick. Seek your truth, speak your truth, and seek to understand trauma related issues such as intimate partner violence and its impact on individuals and families without passing judgment, pointing the finger or shaming the victim. After all, exposing those secrets is the first step toward healing.

I’m Okay, I’m Fine-Suppressed Emotions

I’m Okay, I’m Fine-Suppressed Emotions


We’ve all experienced situations where we’ve wanted to speak up or where we’ve wanted to get one pressing issue off our chest. We’ve all been on the verge of crying or cursing from pent up frustration and anger. We’ve all held those outbursts and emotions in check so long that it shows in the tenseness of our faces or the weariness of our demeanor to the point that others begin to ask, “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Too often we respond with a less than honest, “I’m okay” or “I’m fine” – anything but the truthful answer.

Suppressing your emotions in such situations often leads to feelings of stress and increased levels of anxiety. It can also have harmful physical manifestations. I’d like to share with you some of the dangers in suppressing your emotions. My professional desire is that you will develop healthy ways to express your feelings and emotions in appropriate fashions and at appropriate times. Here’s why that’s so important.

Suppressed Emotions Are Linked To Resentment

Many people acknowledge that repressed anger can cause feelings of resentment. The truth, though, is that suppressing any emotion leads to resentment. That inner resentment often manifests itself as the belief that our needs are not being met. Outer resentment often manifests itself as the notion that not enough is being done to meet our needs. That resentment can be deepened when we believe those actions are intentional.

Suppressed Emotions Are Linked To Heart Disease

Healthy emotions are born in part by the beneficial release of those emotions. The emotional responses of the heart involve acknowledging the reality of the situations and circumstances in which you find yourself, and further involve dealing with those emotions both inwardly and outwardly. Burying your feelings may seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, but that suppression can lead to those emotions bursting onto the surface at inappropriate times.

Suppressed Emotions Are Linked To High Levels Of Anxiety In The Body

Suppressed emotions can be among the contributing causes of anxiety, stress, stroke, and heart disease. The health risks of suppressed emotions increase when there is no safe environment to express those emotions. Stress build-up can manifest itself as inner conflict and turmoil that can make it impossible to live a happy life.

Too many people shy away from negative emotions not realizing that there is a world of difference between being silent when it’s appropriate and using wise words to express your emotions. Pent up emotions can be as detrimental to your physical health as they are to your mental wellbeing. After all, what do you have to lose in respectfully expressing your feelings and/or emotions? Hopefully, by respectfully expressing yourself in healthy ways, by finding outlets for emotions you might otherwise suppress, and by releasing the feelings and people who lead to tense and traumatic situations, you’re lessening the possibility of leading an unfulfilling life. Learning to avoid oncoming stress triggers, lose existing stress, and purposely free yourself from an unhappy disposition, you’ll find yourself physically healthy and in a better position to embark on the road to a healthy, happy, meaningful life.




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