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How Do I Keep My Stress from Affecting My Family?

Reducing Family Stress

By Dave Long, Vice President of Family Services

Bridge

 

Years ago, I asked a family therapist how she separated her personal and professional life.  I was curious because I knew her caseload was filled with complicated issues like sexual abuse, infidelity, and anger.  Every day for twenty years, she helped troubled people unpack their hurt.  She never raised her voice.  She actively listened.  And when the day was over, she peacefully rejoined her neighbors at the ball diamond or recital hall as calm as calm could be. So how did she do it?

The Secret to Reducing Family Stress

First, she left her baggage at the bridge.  Every day she drove home down a less traveled corridor that crossed a bridge a mile from her house.  As soon as her front tires hit the bridge, she figuratively dumped all her negative emotion into the river below.  Off it went with the current to be dealt with at another time.

And second, for those stressors that lingered beyond the bridge, she simply reminded herself that she was one in seven billion people on this earth.  Realizing she wasn’t the center of the universe brought the necessary perspective to her life.  The grumpy co-worker, angry client, or jammed copy machine frustration melted away when she considered her life in regard to others.  On most days, she actually had it pretty good.

Life is about perspective.  So much of our own stress in self-inflicted.  It’s our choice if we hold on to it or send it down the river.