When one person has a mental illness they affect at least ten of their loved ones. This definitely complicates relationships. Why is communication so crucial in these situations? We might not be able to change mental illness, but we can make thoughtful changes to our relationships, and that starts with effective communication.
Today we’re going to talk about why communication is crucial when coping with mental illness in your family. Don’t miss on the end of the video where I’ll share an amazing tip from my 18 year son, Ben, who knows what it’s like to live with this issue every day.
I’m Angela Howard, my passion is to break the stigma of mental illness among fellow Christians. I’m here to help you live a more purposeful life with God, and with one another. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can get the first updates of new content.
Improving our communication skills makes all our relationships better, but when you throw mental illness into the mix, it complicates life and it’s critical to make it a primary focus.
Let’s look at three skills that will give you results:
- Realize You Have a Choice: Mental illness can make life feel totally out of control, but you have the choice to build good habits of communication that will help you reach your goals, versus sabotaging your relationships.
- Start Listening: If you aren’t a good listener then you won’t accurately receive and interrupt what you hear. It’s the key to all communication. You will be a better listeners if you are….a) be in the moment, be present b) imagine yourself in their situation, this develops empathy c) repeat back what you heard for clarification d) focus on listening not responding e) be curious—each conversation is an opportunity to learn
- Use “I” Statements: Thomas Gordon developed the concept of “I” statements in the 1960’s. It helps the speaker be assertive without being aggressive, which causes the listener to be less defensive. This is something that takes practice, but it’s totally worth the effort.
I’ve attached a PDF below with the explanation so you can practice at home. http://washingtongov.org/DocumentCenter/View/106
Lastly, I recently asked my son what it was like growing up in a family with mental illness. He said that it was just his life so he didn’t think about it that much, but then he gave me the best tip. He said, “Education provides answers. When Dad is struggling I understand why, and I can empathize.”
That what we all need, a willingness to learn, from each other and from God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
I’d love to hear your best communication tip, comment below so we can connect
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