To my online family, I want to share this challenge with you and yours, one that I think can greatly change your relationships. You can apply this to family, friends, coworkers, whoever. We are all one family, so share, share, share. Here’s my big idea, starting with family members.
I have a challenge for our family. Birth family, online family, chosen family, you pick. You can choose to opt in or not, completely up to you.
I challenge each of us, beginning today, to not criticize or negatively comment about family members with one another. To change what we focus on and discuss.
The family challenge is to change what we talk about with one another.
I’m sure you’ve heard (or said) something like: “He’s/she’s loud, quiet, awkward, wild, too liberal, too conservative, talkative, introverted, doesn’t listen, is negative, should be doing this instead of that, should be X instead of Y, just like their father/mother in some negative way,” etc. I don’t know about you, but I find it really challenging not to engage in these conversations, whether I or someone else is the one criticizing.
So, how about we have a family challenge not to talk about other people in a critical light? Surely we can talk about other things — we are smart, kind, creative people! Let’s discuss our life (not someone else’s), our ideas, and what we admire and love about family members.
So, are you in for the family challenge? To change what we talk about?
If you hear someone begin to criticize another, you can gently say, “Remember the family challenge.” (If you really want to change this habit, put money in a jar every time you speak critically and donate it to the political party you most dislike! Now, there’s a habit-changing incentive!)
This will take practice, so you’ll have to catch yourself. It’s a habit and habits take time to change.
Maybe you are talking about someone else because you are hurt or concerned about them. If so, try talking to them instead of about them. I know this may be “challenging,” but I’m positive we can do this!
In addition, I think many of us rely on others in the family to update us on everyone else. (Although asking about one’s children is fair game, it makes sense and we all appreciate that!) Reach out directly to adult family member to find out how they are. This can greatly improve relationships and let’s that person know you care. We’re all busy, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear from one another directly versus via the grapevine? We never know when that person will no longer be with us.
Personally, I would rather hear from someone than about them.
We have an amazing family, full of very diverse and interesting people, who love each other very much. And for that reason, I hope you’re “in.” But if you’re not, that’s cool too because we’re all different! No judgment.
So, that’s my bright idea. Are you in for the +2 Family Challenge? You can simply reply “I’m in,” ignore (which means you’re out), or feel free to add your thoughts/ideas. Here’s your first chance not to criticize!
1. Compliment/be positive versus criticize (+)
2. Talk “to” instead of “about” another (2)
3. Say “I’m in” or opt out (the family challenge)
That’s +2 Family Challenge, I hope you’re in.
Barbara (a recovering critic who loves her family)
P.S. I’m in.
P.P.S. Feel free to invite others to the challenge!