In this first article in a 5-part series on family wellness, Personal and Corporate Coach Tasneem Kagalwalla explores the aspects of a happy family unit and how to drive the change to greater family wellness.
There are many different angles to this topic.
To condense my thoughts into an all-inclusive article would be like describing the vastness of the ocean by its shoreline.
By focusing on the ingredients and most important aspects of family life I hope that you find more solutions for the well-being of your family.
Essentially, a family is one entity with many parts working together to create something larger. Each part has a significant role to play in how well the family functions as a whole. It simply means that each one’s balance of mind, body and soul results in an overall state of well-being.
Family Wellness focuses on healthy family lifestyles and habits. And the healthier each individual family is, the healthier an entire community can be.
In an ideal scenario, each human being is a person who understands, values, and develops his body, finding it beautiful and useful.
A person who is real and honest to and about him/herself and others.
A person who is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate what is new and different, keeping the part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not.
When you add all this up, you have a physically healthy, mentally alert, feeling, loving, playful, authentic, creative, productive human being. Someone who can stand on his/her own two feet. Someone who can love deeply and fight fairly. Someone who can be on equally good terms with both his/her tenderness and his/her toughness and knows the difference between them and therefore strives effectively to achieve his/her goals.
The family is the “factory” where this kind of (ingredient) person is made.
No matter what kind of problem a family could have, four key aspects are vital for gauging your family wellness.
- Self-worth: the feelings and ideas one has about themselves.
- Communication: the different ways people reach out to make meaning with each other.
- Family System: the rules people use for how they should feel and act.
- Link to Society: the way people relate to other people outside the family.
To relieve any issues in a family and the resulting pain and anguish, a way to change these key factors has to be found.
Commonly, the following has been observed of troubled families compared with untroubled nurturing families.
Self-worth is low
Self-worth is high
Communication is indirect, vague, and not really honest
Communication is direct, clear, specific and honest
Rules are rigid, inhuman, nonnegotiable, and everlasting
Rules are flexible, human, appropriate, and subject to change
Linking to society is fearful, always trying to please and /or blaming
Linking to society is open and hopeful
Stop. Reflect on these questions:
- Does it feel good to live with your family right now?
- Do you feel you are living with friends, people you like and trust, and who like and trust you?
- Is it fun and exciting to be a member of your family?
If you answered yes to these three questions, bravo! You can pat yourself on the back and leave this article now.
If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not often’ then you most likely live in a family that is troubled in some way. You’d probably benefit if you read on!
The key to happiness then lies in crossing the bridge from being a distressed family to one that is nurturing and caring. Ask and address the following questions with your family in all honesty:
- Every person has a feeling of worth, positive or negative; the question is – Which is it?
- Every person communicates; the question is – and what happens as a result?
- Every person follows rules; the question is – What kind and how well do they work for you?
- Every person is linked to society; the question is – How and what are the results?
There are so many different ways to work towards driving this change. Choose to be creative and take the time to make this an interesting and exciting time for your family.
Involve every member. You could even go to a park or any environment which encourages each individual to share and feel that their contribution matters and is truly valued. Have a go at answering the above questions individually and then share as a family unit.
Identify the gaps and how you can help each other create a healthy family life. Also specifically communicate the kind of help you are looking for as each of us are programmed differently; (metaphorically speaking) you may want more of a listening ear rather than a helping hand.
In conclusion, discover how you are operating in your family as an individual and as a collective unit. Generate and act upon ideas on how you can bring about change in order to reduce problems and increase the vitality and joy you can find in each other.
The more we think about family wellness in terms of “we” then we can find our individual place in life too.
When ‘i’ is replaced by ‘we’ then even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness’!”
Coming together is wellness.