Any business of that consists of more than one person involves creating a legally binding contract that spells out the expected responsibilities of each party, distribution of the rewards, and assumption of liabilities. The ultimate business is that of marriage or being legally bound together defined by time. It is assumed to be a lifetime commitment and the decision of who decide to cast your lot with will have a great impact on the trajectory of your life.
Then you add partners (your children) who have a much deeper relationship with the business of being a family. They are completely dependent on the family unit as a base of operations, for patterning for their emotional makeup, developing coping strategies, and learning most of their life relationship skills. They need a safe and nurturing environment to develop a strong identity and thrive.
Your family as a business
A successful enterprise generally has an idea of its purpose and it is often elucidated in a business plan. It begins with a vision and mission statement. It starts with assessing where you are, where do you want to go, and how are you going to get there? Without a least a simple description of these steps, you will remain in a reactive mode and focusing more on surviving day to day. You can do it, but is the life you have the life that you want?
There has to be some structure and delineation responsibilities and tasks. One can’t happen that well without the other. So, learning organizational and execution skills is important.
Then there are the finances, which is well-known to be the most common reason for family conflict. The battles will be more intense without clear data and a sense of how to manage money as a family unit. Who can spend what with what constraints?
Finally, why are you a family and what is your vision of enjoying life? Has your family been under so much stress that you have forgotten the reason you are together in the first place?
Some starting suggestions
There are an endless number of ways this can all play out but the most important step is just doing it. Here are a few suggestions.
- Create a mission statement
- Make it as detailed as you are comfortable with.
- Create protected time in a retreat atmosphere without any digital devices or outside interferences.
- Write down and create your document quickly.
- Put it in a spot that is easily seen and refer to it frequently.
- Hold regular family meetings with guidelines and an agenda.
- Have a defined start and stop time.
- No fighting (Different than a direct discussion).
- Weekly short ones at a regular time
- Quarterly evening meetings to stay connected with the mission statement
- Annual retreat to update the vision and mission statement.
- Look up resources to create a more detailed family planning process.
- Here is one great set of suggestions from a businessman written in the Wall Street Journal.
How can I do this when I am in pain?
I am extremely aware of the obstacles that are present when a family member is in chronic pain. As we worked with many families over the years, it became apparent how destructive chronic pain was to the whole family. Often, it bordered on complete chaos, just trying to get through the day. You may think that these suggestions are ridiculous in light of your suffering. And BTW, they are. That is why the rest of the healing process must be learned well enough to begin to calm down your nervous system. The essence of healing chronic pain is feeling safe, which means you are able to optimize your body’s chemical profile from stress hormones to relaxation ones. You will be able to think more clearly and begin to consider creating a functional family unit.
However, structure is also a powerful antidote for anxiety. There is a strong bi-directional effect, in that a stable family unit aids in aiding your healing. Even a discussion about how this might look in the midst of the disruption caused by your pain can begin to break up the cycle. Just the one rule of NEVER discussing your pain with anyone, especially your family members causes a shift in the energy of the home. Holding family meetings, even if they are disorganized will add to the process. Making a family decision to, “Be nice” is a major step, even if you frequently fail.
You may still be thinking that none this makes any sense and I must not have any idea of what chronic pain does to a family. Let me give you a couple of insights that represent the tip of the iceberg.
I do know family chaos
My father was a physician who simply was never home. My mother was emotionally unstable and had four children in five years, which put her right over the edge. She suffered from chronic pain and would find ways to get a hold of opioids and benzos. She was a hoarder and would sit in her room most of the day trying to clean it. My father would frequently come home at nine o’clock at night and have to wash piles of dirty dishes. Whenever they sat down to pay bills, there was at least a two-hour screaming match. There was no sense of direction and there was also no way to make my mother happy. We kept moving from city to city and I lived in 12 different houses by the time I was 16 years old. My mother would focus on the negatives of a given situation and her endless complaining was a significant factor in causing us to move so often.
This lack of structure and stability did have a severe impact on me and most of my life efforts were focused on running from all of this chaos. I did escape with one of the strategies being that of an overachiever. It worked until it didn’t. I ran out of fuel and crashed at age 37. I was on the same pathway as my family; reacting and surviving instead of pursuing a vision. I spent the next 15 years in severe chronic pain.
If you don’t make a decision to take control of your life and be in charge of your family, who will? Where is the endpoint? Creating and executing a plan for you and then for your family will be part of being able to calm down your turbo-charged nervous system. Continuing to wander without direction will not. You may not feel like you can or want to take this step of creating structure for your family. Just do it. It will have a remarkable healing effect on everyone.
You started out like this.
What does it all look like now?