Work is an unfortunately stressful necessity of life, for almost everybody. However, taking note of when your stress is taking over family life and impacting your loved ones is an important skill.
Little do many of us cherish more than our family.
It's often those most close to us that we are so intent on sharing our up-and-down life experiences with, and to whom we express much of our feelings to by sheer default.
However, it's often these very same people that bear the brunt of our — hopefully, occasionally — emotional turmoils, and who are exposed to our behavior at the worst of times.
Conflicts at work, friendship difficulties, relationship troubles, and financial worries are a sensitive topic of conversation many of us are familiar with, and just imagine how increasingly fragile things become when we add extremities into the mix... difficulties managing anger, emotional stresses, and other mental health challenges (whether diagnosed or not).
It's easy to forget that, while our family does indeed love us, they aren't mind-readers, life coaches, and most certainly not personal therapists at our 24/7 beck and call. The truth is, we all have independent challenges to deal with, and there must be a line drawn somewhere with regards to how much we expect from our families in terms of emotional involvement and moral offerings. This brings us to the killer question—how do you know you've begun to expect too much from your family?
1. You Seek Relatives at the First Sign of Trouble and Insist That it's Urgent
Let's be realistic. Not a day goes by in the life of Joe, Joanna, or whoever, that doesn't consist of some form of melodrama, and if you are lucky enough to be avoiding melodramatic encounters on a regular basis, count yourself lucky.
Life has a funny habit of throwing lemons at us, not least when we aren't expecting it, but rather than throwing lemons at our relatives, a more reasonable way of dealing with unforeseen trouble may be necessary. Figuring out workable self-help strategies is a great start to managing small problems that befall us out of the blue.
Talking to family members can often be a great way to gain positive insight into an otherwise dreary situation, but it may be best left until you have a better handle on exactly what is going on. Seeking the emotional support of family only becomes a problem once it becomes an ongoing expectation, and it's easy to fall into that trap once you feel as though it's readily, eternally available.
2. Your Family Are Out of Solutions to Your Problems, and You Can't Accept it
When you begin to notice that your relatives are becoming increasingly annoyed at hearing about your problems, it's time to take a breather.
This is a surefire sign of forced-empathy-induced-exasperation. Yes, you read that right.
"exasperation" — a feeling of intense irritation or annoyance
Family members are usually some of the most understanding people where our personal struggles are concerned, and if not, they'll often try harder than anyone else to relate.
But bear in mind, that there's only so much moral support one person can give, especially stacked up against all they are dealing with too.
A difficulty or inability to accept that your relatives are out of solutions to the challenges you present may also be indicating a vested reliance on their advice or intervention, which could be an indicator of over-expecting.
3. You Talk About Your Problems More Than They Do Theirs
As mentioned previously, relying on family only becomes a problem when it has become an expectation.
Taking family members for granted, and relying on the fact that they are 'always there' will inevitably cause imbalance, and this is a sign that you may be over-expecting.
If two relatives can mutually benefit to an equal extent by supporting each other and are both equally happy to do so, a healthy, long-lasting relationship is in the making.
But if your relatives insist that support is one-sided, heed this warning, and consider your motives. Are you as interested in assisting them as you expect them to help you?
Another thing to note is just how long you spend deliberating over your issues and concerns, whether this is in the accompaniment of your family-member-acting-as-therapist or alone, as the longer you spend dwelling, the bigger the problem can often internally become.
So does this mean you have to deal with things alone?
No, but it does mean that you probably shouldn't take family support, or in particular, family members, for granted, and we should aim to respect them for the individuals they are and try to recognize that their lives aren't care-free either.
Everyone is dealing with their own problems on an individual scale.