Geeks Vs Loneliness: you can choose your friends, but…

A few thoughts about when families cause you stress.

Tricky one, this week. A lot of times in this series of articles, we’ve chatted about relying on friends, and being able to talk to family members, when you need some support. This time, though, we want to talk about when the family members are part of the problem.

As ever with Geeks Vs Loneliness, we don’t pretend to have the answers. But hopefully there are a few suggestions that may be of use somewhere along the line.

Dealing with tricky family members – be they parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings, half-siblings… heck, the list goes on – comes with an extra special ingredient. That ingredient tends to be guilt. Many of us feel a deep responsibility towards our family, to the point where we take levels of shit from them that we wouldn’t from anyone else. In the long run, it really isn’t much good for you. It would be fair to say that some family members can be quite skilful at using guilt as a weapon too. It’s one that’s almost impossible to resist at times.

What can you do? Be as open and honest as the situation allows. Call the family member out that they’re using guilt as a tactic. Don’t let it lie under the surface if that’s what you think is happening. It’s a horrible thing the feeling of guilt, whether warranted or not. The quicker it can be addressed, the better. With as little anger as possible.

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If you’re all living in the same house, try and find some space. In the heat of a big row, walk away. Go for a walk. Go somewhere. Go and talk to friends if you can, and find a release valve that doesn’t involve getting into that most joyous of things, a family row.

Is there another family member you can talk to quietly?

One more thing here: take a look at where you fit in if you can. Are your contributions helping? Do you feel that everything you say is being misconstrued, or throwing fuel on the proverbial fire? Do you find yourself getting riled up and piling in sometimes? You’re only human too. But perhaps limit the time you allow for getting involved in family matters. Set aside space. Channel anger and frustrations into something constructive if you can.

Don’t forget, too, that you can, in the end, always walk away. It comes with a price, but by the time you get to that decision, chances are you’re paying a hefty price already.

Families can be brilliant, and for all the stresses they may bring, most of us are lucky to win more than we lose. But also, families are made up of individuals, and individuals deserve – even if they don’t always get – respect and acknowledgement in their own right.

Feel free to share thoughts, tips and troubles in the comments below. And never lose sight of the fact that you matter.

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Thank you, as always, for reading.