Many of us have now been self-quarantined with our spouses and kids for several weeks as this pandemic continues. And perhaps like me, you worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, and what the future holds.
All these thoughts and worries raise anxiety levels. And the more anxious we are, the more we’re susceptible to conflict with those closest to us.
By the same token, relationship conflict, whether with a spouse, child, or friend, can raise our anxiety levels even more. Whether it’s openly hostile conflict in the home or an underlying resentment, family conflict can cause a significant amount of stress. And that level of stress can adversely affect our health and well-being.
Conversely, when we share closer relationships with those around us, stress levels can be reduced considerably. So, it’s important to recognize when our anxiety levels cause us to act in ways that hurt our relationships.
Because what we say and how we say it influences what the other person does next. In other words, according to Newton’s Third Law, every action has a reaction. So, what can we do to reduce our stress and enjoy stronger relationships when we need it most?
One of the most effective ways I’ve found is by tapping into compassion. Compassion is actually instinctual. It’s in our wiring. Compassion is how we respond when we perceive suffering and have an authentic desire to help. We also experience compassion by putting ourselves into the other person’s shoes. And the good news is that compassion boosts our physical and emotional well-being. Below are 5 tips for reaping the benefits of compassion right now:
1. How can I help?
If you notice your spouse or child is upset, you might ask something like how can I make it better? Even if you don’t ask out loud, you might simply do something you think they would appreciate and enjoy.
2. Be encouraging.
When we encourage others, we can enjoy seeing their face light up with confidence. That in and of itself lifts us up as well.
3. Don’t neglect yourself.
It’s not always so easy to have compassion for ourselves. For instance, you might take a moment and notice when you’re hurting or down on yourself for making a mistake. Then simply allow yourself to acknowledge we’re not perfect and take it as an opportunity to do better. Either way, your feelings matter.
4. Respond with a question.
When someone close to you lashes out in anger, try asking a question instead. It’s easy to react in anger. But just taking that moment to pause and ask about what’s causing the person’s anger goes a long way to diffusing conflict and bringing you closer together.
5. Apologize sincerely.
When offering an apology, it’s often best to avoid saying something like “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings” or “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” I’ve found it much more effective to own up to what I did and verbalize the effect it had on the other person.
For example, “I know it was important to you that I [important action]. And in that moment, I wasn’t thinking and I now see how disappointed angry and hurt that made you.
By tapping into our innate ability for compassion, we can enjoy closer relationships, reduced stress, and experience greater health and well-being.
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