Finding Your Resilience through Family Drama

Hiba Khatkhat looking up smiling

When there’s multigenerational trauma, it can be difficult to navigate family relationships and dynamics. Sometimes, this can get even more challenging as you embark on your own healing journey.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to stay resilient through family drama and find peace 

Know Thyself

Know your own limits, values, beliefs, preferences, and what's important to you. These are key to helping you drown the noise, and not give in to external pressure. External pressures and expectations get internalized, and then you can find yourself conforming. So this clarity about what aligns with who you are becomes very crucial. When you go against your values and beliefs, your self-respect goes down. This often will make you feel worse about yourself and will lower your self-esteem and confidence.   

Values and beliefs are things that aren’t usually negotiable. Examples are respect, honesty, transparency, and integrity. Think about whether or not your family members uphold the values that are non-negotiable for you. Or whether they jeopardize them for their own benefit. If it’s the latter, then it’s a sign you might be in a toxic pattern.

And, when it comes to limits, you might think about what you’re keeping out. I find it helpful to think about what you’re including. So rather than thinking “I don’t want family drama”, think “I want peace”. Those two statements offer a different focus: One focuses on the chaos; what you don't want. And the other focuses on what you do want: peace. 

Get Clarity on Your Priorities

When it comes to family drama, it pays off to get clarity on your priorities. 

Your priorities can be either 1) an objective/goal, 2) the relationship, or 3) self-respect. 

Ask yourself:

  • Is there a goal or objective that's important to me?
  • Is my self-respect important and takes priority here over everything? Or
  • Is preserving the relationship important?

Clarity about your priorities is potent, and it can make navigating the terrain of family drama much easier.

Get Unstuck by Understanding Where You Stand

When family drama takes over, and you want to gain an understanding of why you’re reacting the way you are, Marsha Linehan’s framework can be helpful. Marsha is the founder and creator of DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). She explains that there are four solutions to any problem.

Solutions to any problem chart: solve the problem, change thoughts & emotions about the problem or radically accept the problem and emotion or thoughts or do nothing

It’s important to highlight that acceptance doesn’t mean you like it, agree with it, or approve of it. Acceptance is about acknowledging it is what it is in the moment, from moment to moment. It is useful for situations where there isn’t a solution or the solution is not readily available. It helps with tolerating reality rather than fighting it.  

Give Yourself Space and Breathing Room

Take space whenever possible both mentally and physically to tune in rather than tune out of your internal experience. This is about giving yourself permission. It's ok to rest, take space, and even use silence effectively. The silence here isn’t about it being a passive-aggressive tool of communication to draw the other person in. The silence here is to practice kindness and compassion for yourself so you can gain perspective.

Strengthen Your Relationship with Yourself

Cultivating a strong relationship with yourself helps you to have an innate knowing that your choices flow from within. This enhances your resilience. Allow yourself to invest time and energy in the people, places, and things that rejuvenate you, and strengthen your connection to yourself. Personally, meditating, being in nature, reading a good book, practicing yin yoga, and spending time in a quiet cabin are some of my favourite things to do to connect within. Choose the things that are unique to you. 

I do want to take a moment and acknowledge that the way you’re able to implement any of these tips would depend on your context and a variety of other factors. I can look back at my own experiences, and at times when my resources were limited and/ or dependent on others, and know I would’ve navigated this advice differently. Customize these tips as you see fit. Resilience is a journey and not a destination. 

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Hiba Khatkhat

A registered psychotherapist, life coach, and social justice activist. Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), she immigrated to Canada and currently lives in Niagara. Hiba is passionate about Yin Yoga, interior design, travelling, dancing, and entrepreneurship.

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