Family Relationships Problems: Step one to fix them up

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Dr. Purushothaman
October 16, 2013

Face it, relationships are TOUGH! Family relationships are even tougher, though. Think about it, you are close to the person, probably live in the same house together. They know you, your quirks, your moods - and how to push your buttons. The key to surviving relationship problems, however, is to take control of the situation. No, no, no, this does not mean strong arming your family member and beating them into submission. What it means is taking ownership of the areas that you CAN control. What exactly can you control in these situations? YOU!

Recently, a 12 year old boy, Moe, was having social problems that affected both his family relationships and his peer relationships. When asked to write a story about a 5th grade boy who was having problems with friends in his school, he responded in an interesting manner.

This is a part of what he wrote,

"He (the 5th grade boy) came back to me after recess a little teary eyed. I said to him, 'Maybe there is something I can do to help you?'

He answered, 'There is nothing you can do to change them.'

I said back to him, 'That's right. We can't change them, we can only change you and the way you look at things'(Moe Eirdad, grade 7)"

This little boy, Moe, who was himself having social problems, recognized that (better than many adults) the most important lesson in creating and maintaining better relationships is that it all begins (and ends) with you. You can't change other people and you certainly can't change their behavior, but you can change how they affect you. If you allow them to push your buttons, they will. However, only you control how you react to them and how you are affected by them.

John Miller in "QBQ! The Question Behind" offers some very good advice and gives a very clear, concise pattern to train your brain to take responsibility of a situation and therefore change it.

1. Ask "what" and "how" questions. As in the case of Moe, he questioned, "What can I do that may encourage the other children to include me in their games?" and, "How can I control how they affect me when they make fun of me?"

Do not ask "why" questions. Why questions take away your empowerment and further victimize you.

2. Only use the word "I." Ask, "What can I do?" "How do I..." Never bother to ask THEY do..." You can't change "they," you can only change you and how your react to them. As Moe said, "We can't change them."

3. Take action! Don't get bogged down in the questions and analysis of the situation. Move forward quickly and do something!

Control the things that you can - you and how others affect you. Let go of trying to control the things that you can't control - others and their behaviors. When you allow someone else to push your buttons and get you upset, then THEY are in control of the situation. When you take control of yourself and take charge of how they can affect you, then YOU are the one in control - and they can't push your buttons any more.

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