3 Tips to Release Family Anxiety

Much of your anxiety in family relationships flows from your inner list of requirements that connect you to your ‘tribe’. You connect with the tribe when you follow the tribal rules, many of which are unspoken. When you feel that you fall short of connecting to your tribe and honoring the tribal codes, anxiety begins to quickly grow. Perhaps it is as simple as when your family gathers for Sunday dinner and one Sunday night you have plans. A common emotional response may be guilt—and all participants have their role in it.


Guilt is a tribal tool that many families use to control their members… watch out for it because it serves no one and when you allow yourself to react to it, you become an enabler to this unhealthy behavior. When you give yourself permission to move in a different direction than your tribe, you may experience protest. However, when you choose to be a seeker of truth within and around you, peace will eventually return—and in most cases with the tribe members as well.


Remember, whatever a member of your family says or does is not a personal attack on you, unless you choose to make it so. Let go of your need to own, control and possess the responses of your family members. Stress is the power you give to outside circumstance to define your worth value and capability. You are not to reaction of those around you unless you choose to be. Your greatest strength in the midst of relationship conflict lies in your ability to control your impulses. Instead of speaking negativity into a relationship put your hand over your mouth and walk out of the room, pull up your drawbridge and remember the person you are committed to being…be kind and loving because of who you are not because people are kind and loving to you.


When you are spun into a negative emotion your brain actually releases a chemical that excites your brain. Too often we connect this excitement with a sense of empowerment when actually it causes us to become imprisoned by the negative emotion. Rumination kicks in and we respond with behavior that does not support the highest version of who we are created to be. I will often say, “Does this choice of behavior make God recognizable?” If not I will use a technique to get my body out of the way so that my Spirit can lead like EFT.


Work on feeling that you are sufficient just as you are. Most of your tense relationships flow from your own inner feelings of inadequacy. What if you knew that you already made it in life? How would that play out in your family connections? Imagine feeling completely secure just as you are as you relate to those around you. How would your world shift? Explore this concept.


As is the case with any relationship, essential elements fuel the fire of disconnect: the need to be liked, right and understood. When the need to be right, liked and understood overrides your desire to create a healthy connection then three unhealthy reactive behaviors tend to bully themselves onto the scene:


  1. Stonewalling: This destructive behavior stops all attempts at healthy connection in its tracks and flows from victimization showing up in the silent treatment as a form of punishment for not getting the response you want or from hurt feelings usually flowing from feeling misunderstood.
  2. Defensive Behavior: This is a classic flip behavior that literally locks down effective communication instantly and sounds like this: “You think I don’t clean up after myself? Well YOU never pick up your dirty clothes or clean YOUR dishes.” Defensive behavior usually includes Universal Quantifier statements like: Always; Never; Nobody; Nothing as well as Modal Operators of Necessity: You need to, have to, must.
  3. Ugly Talk: This is a good one and a reactive behavioral response that flows directly from hurt feelings usually fueled by the following: fear of not being able to handle a situation successfully; fear of rejection; self-doubt; entitlement; assumptions or all of the above. Metaphorically speaking it’s the cornered wildcat response that unleashes hissing and scratching with the tongue. How can it be that words of love and support flow out of the same mouth as cursing, gossip and accusation? This mini possession instantly flips you out of your highest good and the good of all concern and often flows from conclusions that support an impoverished view of reality like: I’m not enough just as I am; I’m afraid what you say is true or I haven’t developed the skill set for healthy boundaries and I am angry and afraid of speaking my truth; I am unappreciated; overlooked; disrespected and devalued.


Families are made up of people who have an innate desire for safety and connection, which flow, from personal experiences and perceptions: I see you not as you are but as I am. If effective skill sets are not in place as well as rules that honor the highest good of all concerned a casual family get together can quickly turn into a scene from animal planet.


Every effective system in life has a set of rules and regulations for optimal performance whether it’s in the corporate space or professional sports. Bringing the light of your awareness around the unhealthy reactive behaviors referenced in this article offers you a little gap of empowerment to set up effective systems within the relationships you care about that respect and honor all participants.


Three Grab and Go Stress Solutions for Effective Family Connection:


  1. Create a Family Constitution and write down specific behaviors, which support positive connection between family members. Include those behaviors you want to expand and use and those you want to release. Have each member sign the Family Constitution. Place it in a room that you frequently gather together. Remember it’s all about building one another up and supporting each other in our desire to show up with the best versions of ourselves on this journey of life. Step away from accusations and stone throwing and work a system of guidelines that support love, kindness and positive connection.
  2. Affirmation Night is another very effective family team building activity. Once a week sit down with your family members and take turns sharing three things you value most about each member of the family. My husband and I do this every Sunday evening. This activity creates a strong sense of feeling appreciated and valued, which unlocks instant connection and love.
  3. Listen to understand rather than to be understood. Expand a learner’s mindset by asking questions: what is the learning opportunity in this situation? What action step could I take to move forward into a positive solution?


Each time you choose to forgive and release you expand your ability to love in this world.


Enjoy a Quick 3-minute Video from Lauren’s 30 Day, 3 Min a Day Wellness and Excellence Program: Cultivate Healthy Relationships


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