Your family is your first priority. Each and every member of your family is so precious to you. You respect and cherish them for who they are and for being with you when you need them the most.
From time to time, you will also come across some misunderstandings or misinterpretations with your family members. It is hard to find “and they lived happily ever after” sort of relationships.
Little misunderstandings or misinterpretations are not to be taken seriously as long as they do not affect your bond with your loved ones. However, if you encounter any argument that goes beyond the boundaries of love and respect you have for the other party, you need to act wise enough not to burn bridges.
Learning loving-kindness meditation helps you finding a practical approach to create a positive attitude toward your loved ones.
This article discusses how you can maintain a strong relationship with your loved ones by cultivating loving-kindness in your mind.
Stranger vs spouse
There is a deep bond between us and those who we love. Yet, we often get angry with the ones we love the most such as with our parents, children, spouse, etc. Let me give you an example.
You bump into someone on the road. He shouts at you saying “you are an idiot.”
You drop a plate while washing it and your spouse says the same set of words; “you are an idiot.”
In which instance you get angrier?
In scenario 1, you get angry because of what you heard. However, the thoughts of anger will fade away after some time because they were not uttered by someone known to you. It was just a stranger on the road and you can forgive him by thinking he had a bad day. Therefore, anger can be overcome easily in scenario 1.
In scenario 2, your anger can be followed by some other emotions such as sadness, shame, guilt, etc. The range of emotions can vary depending on the degree of your relationship with your spouse. Though you heard the same set of words, they were uttered by the one you love and care for. Thus, it will take a longer time for you to overcome the negative emotions that arise in your mind.
However, if you practice loving kindness as a method to avoid anger, it will benefit your relationship with others.
Loving-kindness toward loved ones
If you happen to argue with your dear ones, do the following;
- Do not react aggressively such as lashing out, arguing, or attacking at the object of anger
- Do not retaliate
- Instead, let your anger pass by
- Do not talk back
- Leave the place if possible until you cool down
- Avoid any thoughts that stimulate anger such as recalling the argument, the words uttered by the other party, etc.
- When you realize there is no more anger in you, take a moment to recollect how much the other person has helped and loved you throughout life
- Take a piece of paper and write about the moments your loved ones helped you when you were in need of help
- You will realize, how much they have extended loving kindness toward you. Therefore, you should be able to forgive your loved ones and forget the incident that makes you angry
Practice this technique every time when you face an unpleasant situation.
Write a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is a way to remember how much you are grateful for the things around you. Starting from your family, you owe so much to those around you for making you who you are today. So, develop the habit of writing a gratitude journal to create a sense of appreciation in your mind.
- My mom work so hard to pay for my school fees. I am very thankful to my mom
- There was no water or electricity outage today. I and my family could accomplish all our tasks without any difficulty. I am thankful to the utility suppliers
The above are everyday examples that we take for granted. Instead, try to see the positive side of the material and immaterial facilities that make your life comfortable. Pay gratitude to people who stand by you.
Reverse your thinking pattern
We take our loved ones for granted. Sometimes we do not appreciate the things they do for us. Also, we might hold on to unpleasant past memories which ruin the happy moments that we could have spent with our loved ones.
Yesterday is gone and the future has not come yet. You only have the present moment to live. Therefore, do not waste your time contemplating negativities.
Instead, let the positivity remain in you. With this approach, you can better connect with your loved ones and have a strong relationship throughout your life.
Say “sorry” and “thank you”
They are two magical words that can make up any relationship. Sometimes, our self-esteem does not allow us to use those words. However, when your heart is softened with loving-kindness, you will practice saying these two words more frequently.
Set an example to your children
Loving-kindness is one of the best gifts you can hand over to your kids. Take a few minutes, preferably in nature to practice loving-kindness with them. Ask them to recite loving-kindness sentences such as “may I be happy…or “may my parents be happy”, may my siblings be happy” etc.
Also, all the family members can engage in an act that generates compassion in the mind. Feeding stray dogs or homeless people, planting trees, donating a grocery bag to the poor are some instances in which you can enhance the bond among your family members while benefitting others.
Appreciate each other
Appreciation takes any relationship a long way. Do it genuinely seeing the efforts made by your parents, spouse, children, etc.
Healthy communication among family members helps to overcome any misunderstandings you have down the lane. Patiently listen to their concerns and respond where necessary.
Having dinner all at the same time is a good opportunity to open up how your day looked like. Always speak soft words excluding any sarcasm or harshness. This will help to take off any hardships you faced during the daytime and make the rest of the daylight and happy.
Treat your parents and in-laws nicely
If you are married, your spouse and children take priority. However, maintain your relationship with both parents and in-laws hand in hand. If you treat only your parents, your spouse might feel his or her family is left out.
Therefore, always treat them as nicely as possible. It does not mean you have to accept and agree on everything they say. Set your boundaries beforehand without hurting the feelings of each other, but treat them with courtesy and respect.
Whatever happens in life, your family is the first to pitch in. Therefore, value your family bond and take a different approach with love and kindness to thrive your relationship with them.