On a usual day, without the virus, you’d get home and go straight to your room. Interaction with your family is almost minimal. Even when you do, at most it is small talk about how a certain cricketer is doing or how a certain politician is functioning or anything that is impersonal enough to be in neutral territory. Despite this, difference of opinions rise and you are not able to keep your cool in a discussion that inadvertently ends up becoming a fight. This fight might lead to a constant cycle that spurs even lesser interaction.
If this sort of tension constantly exists in your home, the lockdown might have facilitated a lot of conflicts about long standing unresolved issues in your home. Everyone being on edge, anxious and stressed all the time makes the situation even worse. Over time, this atmosphere might create such a distance that your relationship with your family becomes that of just co-existence instead of familial.
The perfect time to set this right is in fact, this very lockdown! Here are a few ways in which you can begin to resolve such long standing conflict and make the environment more wholesome, loving and nurturing!
1. Do things with them:
Exercise, cook and play games. After your work or studies, spend some time with them. You might not like that you always have to be in close quarters but now is a good time to get to know your family! Share childhood stories, look at albums, start conversations, play board games, and most importantly, communicate.
2. First, listen:
Do you remember how math teachers always said first understand the problem completely before attempting to solve it? It makes a lot of sense in real life as well. If you are having conflicts at home, first listen to your parents entirely. Active listening will make them feel heard. It will not only give you a better understanding of the situation but also make them feel safer to enter into a discussion. And if they don’t want to talk, respect that as well. Even silences say a lot!
3. Recognise the underlying emotions behind the different statements:
A lot of times, what people say might not be what they truly feel. It might be difficult to talk about our own emotions, so we might mask them behind logic and convoluted statements. The statements might not be the most sensitive but the emotions behind those statements might need to be better understood. The same applies for parents, there are many times where they scold or jibe you for something that wasn’t even your fault, right? Try to empathise and understand where their stress might be rooting from before impulsively acting to your emotions of frustration.
4. Write down what you are feeling:
It’s natural and completely acceptable to feel negatively because of your loved ones. There might be times when the situation gets out of hand and you act out those emotions as well. But, slow down, take a breath, have some water, stretch your body. Sit down with a book and a pen and write down the exact reason of your stress and irritation. It will give you a better understanding of your own emotional state and give you enough time to calm down and rationalise instead of acting on impulse.
5. Draw clear boundaries for mental well-being
Even if it’s close quarters – you’d still want some time tofeel and think by yourself. People crossing boundaries often leads to feeling threatened and in-turn more conflict. Everyone needs some space, right? So if you don’t like your parents entering your room without knocking, tell them instead of getting angry every time. Have a conversation. This means sitting together and discussing. While all of the family members might have to compromise in some way, the message is still crystal clear instead of layered with angry exclamations and passive aggressive statements.
7. Try to be honest:
Be yourself, be as real as possible. If you feel a certain way, don’t hesitate to tell your parents about it. Start a conversation even if it is awkward. Honesty allows for immutable consistency in character. It negates unpredictability and makes you more dependable as a person. Own up to your feelings and behaviours. Once you do, there are no cat and mouse games left to play. You can have that discussion where you sincerely listen to what they have to say, understand their point of view, and move ahead instead of it becoming a long-standing conflict of power and blame-games.
6. Act from a place of love:
Your parents might be controlling, might be angry, might be stressed or even plain mean but they do understand the language of love. Your existence is a manifestation of the love that resides within them, however deep it might be buried away. So give love. Speak from a place of love to their underlying emotions instead of anger or hostility. It will create a healthy foundation for real and meaningful conversation.
8. Have patience:
Most relationships are cultivated on a layer of patience. Be mindful. Take your time to make decisions and react to different situations. See the little wins and be grateful for the little things you have – including your family, your parents, and your siblings. While this might sound like a small thing to do, it takes time to cultivate patience.
Lastly, remember that at that every one of us is going through unanticipated stress in this year. Try to support and be there for each other through these times. These times are distressing and we do not realise the psychological impact the pandemic can have. Apart from maintaining physical hygiene, mental hygiene is also important. Even if you cannot seem to build a good enough rapport with your parents in these times, take care of yourself and of each other.
Unnati has an interesting knowledge of memes and Bollywood trivia. They like to express themselves through their poetry, art, and dancing. Being a queer feminist, they change their hairstyle every few months as a way of breaking out of the dichotomy of gender, and reclaiming their own body. They are equally passionate about literature and biology as they are about mental health, and try to keep acquiring new skills and information wherever they go.