We've all been invited to the Thanksgiving dinner where we know that Aunt Louise will be drunk; cousin Larry will scream at his kids and wife; Uncle Ben will try to talk us out of our current career and ask intrusive questions about our relationship; and Cousin Sue will break into tears because her brother just came out as gay. In addition, we've all repeated conversations about the same topics with family members until our heads spin, but nothing is ever resolved. How do we move on? How do we live our own lives without getting sucked back into these sorts of destructive family dynamics and patterns?
There is no pill that can make family life easy. There is no pill that can spare you pain if one of your parents is alcoholic, if one of your children is troubled, if your mother meddles in all your affairs, if your brother is needy and always trying to manipulate others in the family, or if your mate is cheating on you. But, finally, there is a solution. In Overcoming Your Difficult Family, renowned therapist Eric Maisel presents eight skills that individual can employ to survive difficult family life and, sometimes, even improve family life for everyone involved. Life is difficult and family life, with overlapping egos and various dynamics and relationships among family members, is even more difficult to navigate. Working as a family therapist with families, as a life coach and creativity coach with individuals, and as a mental health reformer within a system that isn't helpful enough, Maisel knows that family life regularly takes its toll and that, when it does, little help is available.
Finally, a simple approach to a difficult problem. Maisel presents eight skills and demonstrates how to use them. The skills (which include remaining present, being brave, finding resilience,and being calm) to use in these situations and then describes twelve ?difficult" family situations (such as argumentative or controlling families, bullying and critical families) and how to use the skills in each situation. No family is alike, but the skills to handle these often emotionally fraught and complicated situations can be learned and they will help you transform your own life if not your family. By resorting to these skills again and again, readers will find a way to navigate the chaotic and challenging situations and remain calm and confident.
Overcoming Your Difficult Family is made up of two parts: a skills section in which Maisel explains and teaches the eight skills needed in most family situations; and a second section where he describes and illustrates various common family configurations (rule-bound families, chaotic families, sad and anxious families, etc.) and explains how you can employ the eight skills in each of those families. Whether the challenges readers face are with one family member, or the entire clan, the skills taught here will help them through each situation, as they learn to take care of themselves first and not react to negative or destructive behavior patterns and language from others. With the description of the difficult families and patterns, Maisel goes on to describe how to use the skills you've learned in each of these family situations.
"With gentle humor and compassion, Eric Maisel acts as a wise friend in this clear and practical guide that offers specific tools for navigating the roughest of family seas. It even helps you calm the waters! A wonderfully useful, unique, and comforting book."
-- Judith Schlesinger, PhD, author of The Insanity Hoax
"Eric Maisel rejects diagnostic labels in this insightful, practical, and extremely helpful book. Anyone should find his no-nonsense approach and practical tips useful."
-- James B. Gottstein, Esq., President of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
"Throughout this book, Dr. Maisel maintains a nonmedical and non-pathology theme, describing family problems as natural human phenomena rather than mental disorders. His eight skills are introduced and applied step-by-step within the context of several unique family cultures whose members unwittingly develop problematic ways of coping. This refreshing guide to overcoming interpersonal conflict with respect for personal diversity, coexistence, and cooperation is invigorating to those of us who struggle to rehumanize the mental health industry!"
-- Chuck Ruby, PhD, executive director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry
"With characteristic clarity, Dr. Eric Maisel lays out an approach to family difficulties that cuts through the surface tension to reach the compassionate core of human relationships. An accessible guide grounded in current research and the author's own clinical experience."
-- Dr. Dale McGowan, coauthor of Raising Freethinkers
"Dr. Maisel offers more than just understanding; he also offers hope by way of practical suggestions for dealing with difficult family members that can provide relief for those who have for years been beleaguered by hard-to-deal-with parents, siblings, in-laws, and others. I recommend this book not only to family, individual, and couples therapists but also to the clients with whom they work."
-- James E. Maddux, PhD, George Mason University Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology
"Overcoming Your Difficult Family is a treasure trove of ideas and strategies. Eric Maisel has a gift for making complicated ideas easy to understand. I'm sure anyone who is struggling with family relationships of any sort will find something in this book that they can identify with and that's bound to help them!"
-- Sami Timimi, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Director of Medical Education, Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation NHS Trust
"This may be the most important book you will ever read. If you want to have a more joyful life and a relationship full of real, lasting love, this book is for you. Practical and powerful, it will teach you how to be smart, strong, calm, clear, aware, brave, present, and resilient -- qualities that too many of us lack living in our stressed-out world. Get a copy for yourself and one for everyone in your family. It will change your life."
-- Jed Diamond, PhD, author of The Enlightened Marriage
"This accessible book shines a liberating light on past family pain and patterns as it offers new skills and hope for creating the healthy, supportive family you've always dreamed of -- right here, right now. Highly recommended!"
-- Donald Altman, LPC, bestselling author of The Mindfulness Toolbox and One-Minute Mindfulness
"Spoiler alert: after you read Overcoming Your Difficult Family, you will feel less distress and be more able to utilize your personal power to create the life you want! Dr. Maisel eloquently offers practical tools on every page, teaching you how to stay calm and effective in even the most challenging family environment. You will be equipped with the knowledge of what family type you are from, and you will learn eight essential skills to overcome lingering family-of-origin problems that have, consciously or unconsciously, caused you upset for years. In short, this book will set you free."
-- Dr. Lee Jampolsky, author of Healing the Addictive Personality and founder of Inspirational Psychology
"An uber-pragmatic how-to guide on overcoming not just your difficult family but your own internal demons. Through powerful examples, exercises, and tips, Maisel masterfully guides you to cultivate eight pillars of inner strength. Thoughtful, empowering, and practical, this book will help you overcome whatever family pattern may still be holding you back in your life and your relationships!"
-- Anna Yusim, MD, psychiatrist and author of Fulfilled