July 13, 2021 Fadela Hilali

Feeling triggered around family members?

Every day, someone asks me: “Fadela, how do you always stay so calm?”.

Just kidding. No one ever asks that 🙂

But I have been getting a lot of DMs on Instagram from people asking me for tips on how to manage difficult relationships with close family members.

Since it is an area I that I’ve always found challenging in my own life, I’ve decided to address a few that have come up frequently.

I’ve tried not to take things personally before and I still ended up blowing up. What am I missing?

The thing with learning to stop taking things personally is that the learning part happens either BEFORE or AFTER the incident. Most people will make a promise to themselves to not let it happen again, but that’s not enough. We need to understand what happened, the exact steps that led to you blowing up. From there, we rehearse different ways of handling the same situation. You can do it in your head, visualising a better way to handle the same situation. Repeat the visualisation often, until if almost feel natural as you go through the motions.

Is it normal to feel triggered around some family members?

Erm, YES! I can tell you that most of the arguments I had with my siblings and parents over the past 15 years have rarely been about something that had just happened there and then. Whether it’s trauma, grievances, unhealthy dynamics or any other unresolved issues, we often react in response to past events. Even something as subtle as a particular facial expression can remind us of a past nasty comment leave us completely outraged.

I don’t have time to meditate, are there other ways to keep calm? (<— another question no one actually asks, but I knew you’d appreciate it 😉 )

YES! Meditation is an incredible tool but I’ll be honest, ever since I had my daughter in 2018, I have not managed to do it regularly. The alternative? DEEP BREATHING.

For real! Breathing deeply for as little as 2-3 minutes a day can help you get your zen on by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the stress hormone (cortisol).

Here is a super simple way to do it WHEREVER you are (in bed, in a parking lot, work restrooms, at your desk, you get the gist)

  1. Sit comfortably Inhale through the nose counting until 3 feeling your belly expand/inflate.
  2. Exhale through the mouth counting until 6 feeling your belly deflate.
  3. Repeat this cycle of breath 7 to 10 times. N.B You can adjust your count to whatever feels confortable.

The important part is to double the count on the exhale (ie. breathe in for 2 counts, exhale for 4 OR breathe in for 4 and exhale for 8 counts).

Here is to your most “cool and collected” self!