Politics. Religion. Divorce. LGBTQ+. COVID-19 vaccines. These are just some examples of topics that can be very polarizing when brought up between colleagues, friends, and loved ones. If you want to avoid getting into a full-fledged argument and preserve the good relationship you have with the other person, sometimes the best course of action is to just agree to disagree. This means coming to an understanding that neither of you are going to change the other’s mind and expressing a willingness to move on.
Aiza Tabayoyong — a family and relationship expert from The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them — shares some ways you can properly and respectfully agree to disagree:
Communicate to understand, not to change minds. Listen without bias. “Instead of saying right off the bat ‘No, you are wrong’ or ‘That’s such a crazy thing to think,’ ask ‘Why do you feel this way?’ or ‘What makes you think this way?’” Aiza advises. Show respect and curiosity instead of judgment and condemnation. Then move on to #2 —
Find common ground. If both of you are set in your respective beliefs, try to look at the big picture. What do both of you want to achieve? What final outcomes are you interested in? Political differences, for example, can be rooted in a desire for better governance or protection of the family’s welfare; the issue of COVID19 vaccines, on the other hand, is about staying safe and healthy. While both of you may have different ideas on how to achieve these goals, choosing to focus on the why will make it easier to accept these differences.
Ask yourself what’s important. Choosing to agree to disagree is easier said than done. But if the relationship is special to you, preserving it should trump your need to be right. “At the end of the day, what’s more important to you — keeping the relationship or winning the argument?” Aiza asks. “Is it campaigning for a candidate, or saving a marriage or friendship that has been there even before this candidate ever thought about running for a position?”
MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you build better communication habits so that you can express your thoughts and opinions more effectively. Book a teletherapy session now at www.mindnation.com.
Not only are relationship conflicts normal, they are inevitable. “A serious relationship or marriage is a union of two distinct people who grew up in different families and, hence, bring with them different cultures, belief systems, values, goals, habits, and behavioral patterns,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship expert from The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “For those who are in a heterosexual relationship, gender alone carries biological and psychological differences.”
Additionally, it takes a lifetime to know all there is about someone; Aiza even compares it to studying in school. “When you start dating someone, your knowledge and awareness about them is equivalent to what a child knows during the preschool years,” she explains. “Once you get married, it’s as if you are entering elementary school. On your 25th anniversary, you have just completed high school. I would say that you only become an expert on your partner — the equivalent of a doctorate degree — when you have spent 50 years together.”
“This is because once you start living together and form a family, you will be facing new situations that you otherwise would not have encountered as single people,” she adds. “Parenthood alone comes with a whole gamut of experiences that will require both parties to adjust each other’s temperaments and values. And it is during these times of adjusting that conflicts occur.”
Common causes of relationship conflict Even the most compatible of couples will encounter conflict because of the following reasons:
Triggers and issues stemming from childhood. “For example, if a partner lacked attention as a child and they feel they are also lacking attention in your marriage, that can be a trigger,” Aiza enumerates.
Differences in values. This encompasses a wide variety of subjects, including isues pertaining to money, sex, spirituality, goals, and family roles. “Who has more say in the relationship? How will the children be raised?” Aiza enumerates. “How much sway do in-laws or extended family members have in decision-making? If these are not discussed properly before the marriage, conflict will occur.”
Lack of communication, validation, and affirmation. “We’ve become so used to doing things a certain way when we were single that when our partner acts the opposite way and neither wants to compromise, that also poses a conflict,” says Aiza.
When to ignore, talk it out, or walk away Just because relationship conflicts are normal and inevitable does not mean you should give up on the idea of having a harmonious marriage. Unresolved relationship conflict is very stressful, and this stress can negatively affect the physical and mental health of both partners as well as any children that they may have. However, not all issues need to turn into conflicts; in the same vein, you should also know which conflicts are more grave and require more drastic measures. Aiza shares some ways you can tell the difference and what you can do to resolve them:
When to let your partner be “It is not worth the conflict if the issue is about something bigger involving your partner and not about you,” Aiza assures. “In such cases, just let them express their emotions and do your best to love and understand them.”
An example would be the expression “Shut up.” During one of your conversations, you might have said it in jest, i.e. “Oh, shut up, that’s not true,” but your partner reacted like they were disrespected and got triggered. In such cases, instead of lashing back with “You’re so sensitive, I didn’t mean anything bad about it,” just pause and give them time to cool their tempers. Then when they are ready, gently ask if they want to talk about why they reacted in such a manner, so that you know not to do it again next time. Whether they want to talk about it or not, just make a mental note to refrain from saying “Shut up” next time.
When to talk it out, work it out A relationship becomes problematic when the conflict stems from different values and you and your partner are triggered with deep feelings about certain issues.
A classic example would be matters involving money, i.e. when the two of you differ in how much to spend, what to spend on, how much money to lend to relatives or friends, etc. In such cases, you need to sit down and try to come up with a compromise. To do this, start by expressing your feelings, then hear out your partner. Use “I” statements such as “I feel __ when you spend on ___. But I want to understand why you are doing this, can you explain it to me?”
Then, as always, hear out your partner from a place of love and understanding, i.e. “Oh, so you were raised to think of money this way, which is why you did this and that. Now I see.” Finally, bring up options so that you can come up with compromises. That way, everyone comes out a winner.
When to walk away
Every person should have a list of behaviors that they will not tolerate in a partner. Ideally, these non-negotiables should have been seen before the marriage. For Aiza, examples of toxic behavior include extreme disrespect and abuse (whether physical, mental, or emotional), pathological reasons or disorders that you are not qualified to handle, or psychological incapacities.
“It is sad if these things are discovered within the marriage. But if the love is strong and the other person wants to make it work, then try to work it out, maybe with the help of a professional,” Aiza advises. But if the partner continues to be in denial, resorts to gaslighting, or keeps falling back on toxic habits despite promises to the contrary, then you need to decide if this is still a relationship that you want to continue.
This is not to mean that you should file for separation, divorce, or annulment at the drop of a hat. “If you love each other, and you spent spent a lot of time getting to know your partner well enough during the dating process, if you knew what you were getting into and you took your marriage vows seriously, if you were not coerced into the relationship and there was love to begin with — then everything can be worked out,” Aiza assures. “But if you got married simply because you were swept off your feet or were coerced or pressured, or you never had the opportunity to really get to know your partner — then maybe all these conflicts are a sign that you were not meant to be. Do still try to work on the relationship, don’t give up over the smallest conflict; but if you’ve done everything you can and you still don’t see any change in your partner, then you’re probably better off ending it.”
“Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?”
According to research conducted by relationship company The Gottman Institute, 69% of conflicts in a marriage can be resolved successfully. This is where Aiza stresses the importance of getting to know your partner well. “Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?” she lists. “Marriage is forever, it is ‘I love you until death do us part’ and not ‘I love you only until it’s convenient and comfortable.’ And when the love is true, that will hopefully be a strong enough motivation to keep going and to keep fixing any relationship conflict.”
MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you address past traumas or build better habits so that you can have better relationships with the ones you love. Book a teletherapy session now Facebook Messenger http://bit.ly/mn-chat , or email [email protected]
The parent-child relationship can be regarded as the most important relationship an individual can experience. Those who grow up with a secure and healthy attachment to their parents stand a better chance of developing happy and content relationships with others in their life. On the other hand, adult children who are constantly stressed by their parents can experience poor mental and physical health, including fatigue, decreased motivation, depression, irritability, as well as the inability to sustain healthy routines, choices, and relationships.
There are many reasons why adult children find their parents stressful. It could be emotional baggage carried over from childhood, a mental/generation gap in terms of thinking pattern and current trends, or because parents overstep boundaries and continue to treat their adult offspring as children by interfering with their decisions and life choices. And while it’s easy to put physical and emotional distance between ourselves and a peer that we find stressful, it’s harder for those raised in an Asian culture to have frank and difficult conversations with parents. “Our culture places importance on honoring parents, so telling them they are stressful is tantamount to being impolite, disrespectful, or ungrateful,” explains Rac General, a psychologist for MindNation and mother of two grown children.
“When you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress”
Rac General, MindNation psychologist
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our relationship with our parents and minimize the stress. Here are some of them:
Find out why your parents are the way they are.
Do some research into your extended family and what your parents were like in school — these helped shape them into who they are today and can help you understand why they think and act in certain ways. “Also involve yourself in your parents’ day to day activities, including their work or workplace, and even get to know their friends and team members. These will give you a better understanding of their context and mood,” Rac says.
Understand the state of their physical and mental health.
Both affect emotions, behavior, and mood. “Also, when you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress” advises Rac.
Finally, find out what their self-care routine or relaxation outlets are and join them so that you can bond.
When talking to them, do it politely.
Conflicts often start and are fueled by our choice of words. When we’re angry with someone, we’re likely to tell them exactly what they’ve done to upset us and start arguments with “you” — “You did this!” or “You always/never ___!” More often than not, this leads to a defensive response, and once someone becomes defensive, they lose the ability to listen and understand other perspectives. Instead, try to frame the conversation in terms of how the issue impacts you by using “I” statements such as
“I feel ___ when ____.”
“I’m upset/hurt/nervous that ___.”
“I don’t understand….”
Ask for help from third parties.
If you really feel that you can no longer manage your relationship with your parents on your own, politely ask grandparents, trusted members of the extended family, or even your parents’ friends for advice or help. They will either offer you a new perspective that you can consider, or mediate on your behalf. However, never, ever suggest to a parent that they should seek the help of a mental health professional, even if you are certain that their stressful behavior is the result of a mental health concern. “It will be taken as an insult and they will get even more angry with you,” Rac points out. “Instead, politely ask a trusted relative or friend to be the one to relay your concerns.”
5. Seek professional help.
If your situation is worsening, and you are having trouble dealing with stressful relationships, it is advisable to seek help from professionals. Mental health professionals can help if you are struggling with anxiety and mental distress.
MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for family therapy sessions or if you are struggling with anxiety and stressful relationships. They can help you get to the root of the relationship problem, improve your communication, assist you with setting/ enforcing boundaries, and help you find a solution that is beneficial for you. Book a session now at https://bit.ly/mn-chat
“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost.
While the term is recent, the practice is not. “In the 1990s, Filipinos called it nang-indyan (not showing up for a date),” explains psychologist Riyan Protuguez. “In English, we borrowed from the military and called it someone ‘going AWOL’ (Absence Without Leave) or ‘going MIA’ (Missing In Action).” And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of ghosting, you are not alone — a study of 1,300 people published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2018 revealed that a quarter of the participants had been ghosted by a partner.
According to Riyan, ghosting can have a negative psychological impact on the person being ghosted. People who have been left hanging by a romantic interest or partner will tend to blame themselves, i.e. “What did I do wrong?” or engage in self-doubt, i.e.“Am I not good enough?” As a result, their self-esteem suffers, which can lead to a host of other mental health concerns. It’s even worse if the one who is ghosting engages in love bombing first (i.e. overwhelming their partner with loving words, actions, and behavior) — before disappearing, leaving the other person bewildered and anxious.
“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost.”
Why do some people choose to ghost?
There are several reasons a person ghosts another, but the most common ones are:
It’s a form of experiment. “Some millennial daters like to experiment,” Riyan shares. “They deliberately cut off contact to check how into them the other person really is.” In short, it’s a convoluted form of playing hard-to-get.
They are emotionally unavailable. “People who ghost do not know how to handle the difficult situation of turning someone down or ending a relationship,” says Riyan. “They don’t know how to communicate their feelings, so they just withdraw.”
How to move on after being ghosted
Being ghosted often triggers painful emotions, and while it can take some time to work through the pain, it is possible to move on. Here are some tips:
It’s not you, it’s them. Don’t blame or question yourself. “Ghosting is committed by people who are emotionally immature and who have their own issues, so it is never your fault,” Riyan assures.
Explore self-care activities to divert your attention. Spend time with trusted friends and loved ones, write in your journal, exercise, or watch your favorite tv show.
Set boundaries. Delete their number from your contact list, unfriend and unfollow them on social media, and throw away or donate the gifts you received from them. If they try to woo you back with love bombing — and people who ghost usually do — “Always remember that you don’t deserve someone who treats you this way,” Riyan reminds.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try again. One bad experience should not stop you from finding the one that is right for you.
How to avoid ghosting others
If you ever find yourself in a position where it seems easier to just disappear than to engage in a difficult conversation, always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. “Do your best to treat others with kindness and honesty,” Riyan suggests. “Your words may hurt, but it’s better than disappearing without an explanation.:”
Some ways you can turn someone down gently:
“It was nice meeting you but I just didn’t feel the connection.”
“I am going through some personal stuff right now, and it’s best I deal with it on my own.”
“I know we have been talking for awhile now, but I don’t feel a spark anymore, I hope you understand.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t see this going any further, I respect you and hope we can still remain friendly.”
Reeling from being ghosted? MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need to process the complex feelings you may have after being left hanging by a romantic interest. They can also give you further coping strategies to make sure you come out the other side stronger and more confident than before. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mn-chat.
When we’ve been unattached for the longest time and hear that a friend has paired up or gotten engaged, or we see photos of couples looking lovey-dovey online — we can’t help but feel a twinge of envy and, in some cases, even frustration. “When will it be my turn?” “Why can’t my Mr. Right come right now?” “Sana all (I hope everyone’s like this).”
Feeling pressured to be in a romantic relationship is perfectly normal, assures Luis Villarroel, a psychologist and founder of Kintusgi Psy. “Biologically, humans are social creatures and we are most comfortable when we connect with someone else. Culturally, romantic relationships have been, well, romanticized through the years and we’ve been raised by our forebears to believe that being in one is what we should all strive for,” he points out.
But sometimes, this pressure to pair up can become too much for a single person to manage and may lead to feelings of low self-worth (“I’m single because there is something wrong with me”) and even spiral into mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. “Because we’ve been conditioned by society to believe that being in a relationship is the only path in life, we feel like failures when we do not achieve it,” explains Luis. “But the truth is, finding a romantic partner is NOT the only path we can take. There are other things that we can do and focus on in life.”
Below are some of the reasons to enjoy being single:
You learn about yourself. Being single gives you more time to look deep inside yourself and identify the person you really want to be.
You have time to work on yourself. What changes do you want to make in your career? What new skills, attitudes, or mindsets do you want to develop? When you are not in a relationship, you have time to get clear about all these and more.
You can make self-care a priority. When you are in a relationship, part of your time will be spent assisting your partner with their needs. While this is not a bad thing, it can sometimes lead to putting yourself second. But when you are single, there are no other responsibilities to pull you away from self-care needs like working out, socializing with friends, or taking time to focus on personal development.
Your time is your own. Once you get past feeling lonely and realize how wonderful being single is, you will become aware of one of the best perks – your schedule is now completely your own.
You take time to love yourself more. It’s actually mentally healthy for you to take some time to be alone if you can, because you learn to love yourself more. “By doing so, you can learn what you really want and what’s important to you and your life. This can even end up helping you find out whether or not a relationship is actually something you want in your future,” Luis says.
You learn to enjoy being alone. “There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely,” says Luis. “We need to stop thinking less of ourselves just because we are alone.”
To start appreciating having your own time, try making a list of five to 10 hobbies that can be done on your own–you’ll probably come up with more ideas than you think!
“Don’t be ashamed or afraid of being single,” Luis advises. “You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself. Instead, use this time to work on the things that you need to improve, and learn to love yourself for who you really are.”
“You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself.”
Luis Villarroel, Psychologist
If the idea of being single continues to bother you, Luis suggests that you self-evaluate to find out why the idea is troubling. “Think about why you want to be in a romantic relationship? Is it because you’re feeling the pressure from others? Because you feel lonely? Worthless? And once you identify the stressors, pressures, and causes of tension, you will have a better idea on how to act on those. Now, if you are having trouble accessing these, talking to a psychologist can help.”
At the end of the day, Luis points out that the stress of finding The One lies in the belief that love can only be found in romantic relationships. “That’s not true,” he says. “Love can be found in other aspects; there’s self-love, and also the love of your other social supports like friendships. You don’t always have to be in a romantic relationship to experience love.”
If your relationship status is causing you stress and anxiety and you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s FREE 24/7 Care Helpline via FB Messenger (bit.ly/mn-chat). If you need the services of a mental health professional, you can book online sessions with psychologists or WellBeing Coaches also through FB Messenger, or via email [email protected].
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in many ways, including our interactions (and lack thereof) with the people close to us.
At home, the combination of financial stress, anxieties, the pressures of working from home, and restrictions in leisure outings are causing most of us to become irritable and short-tempered with our partner and our kids.
We’re missing our social groups — the co-workers, school friends, and yoga/running/spinning/hiking buddies — whom we usually turn to if we need to destress and decompress.
Lastly, many of us have also started neglecting ourselves. After all, it’s hard to squeeze in self-care when there are just so many social, financial, psychological, and physical stressors surrounding the pandemic.
But it is precisely because of all these challenges that we need to take better care of the relationships we have with our loved ones and with ourselves. “Having healthy relationships can provide us with meaning and a sense of hope and support during difficult times like now,” says Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship coach at The Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “The lockdown is actually giving us a unique opportunity to identify the things and people that are most important to us, so let’s use the time to get to know them better and enjoy them.”
Below are some ways we can strengthen and support our relationships:
1. With our spouse or partner
Schedule weekly date nights. If you are at home, find a corner in the house where you and your partner can be secluded and have a romantic moment together, whether it’s just binge-watching your favorite Netflix show or having a nice meal. And whether your dates are at home or done virtually, make sure you use the time to have fun, focus on each other, and build each other up. “Do not use this time to write down a list of what errands to do, what repairs need to be done, or discuss problems in the relationship,” instructs Aiza. “Have a separate day to talk about home management concerns or relationship issues.”
Frequently tell the other person how much you love and appreciate them, whether it’s verbally, through text messages (even if your home workstations are just a few feet away from each other), or by leaving little notes in their drawers.
Know your partner’s love language to make it easier and more efficient to meet their needs.
2. With your children (if any)
Just like with your partner, schedule one-on-one time with your child. Make the conversations light and fun. “This is the time to listen to them and be curious about their interests. Don’t use this time for scolding them or pushing them in the direction that you want,” Aiza reminds. “The stress of remote learning has unavoidably turned your parent-child relationship into a teacher-child interaction, so you need to balance this shift by letting your child see that you are still fun to be around. When that happens, your connection becomes stronger and you have more leverage to better influence them.”
3. With your friends
“Once a week or when your schedule permits, schedule a get-together with people who can lift you up during these tough times, either through virtual platforms or at restaurants that provide al fresco dining options,” advises Aiza. Maintaining ties with friends is crucial because they provide you a safe space to decompress from the stresses of home. It also assures you that you are not the only ones with problems, so make sure each person is given an equal opportunity to vent his or her concerns.
4. With yourself
This is the most important relationship of all. “Nourishing yourself is actually prerequisite to nurturing all your other connections,” says Aiza. “Make time for self-care, and remember that it is not selfish. Adopt the mindset that ‘I need this, I deserve this, and doing this will benefit everyone else.’”
Remember to get enough sleep and to eat well.
Ask your partner or eldest child to give you massages or haircuts
Schedule regular quiet time. “Use it to do deep breathing exercises, to meditate, or for prayer time to connect and communicate with your god,” suggests Aiza.
Self-care also goes beyond meeting one’s physical needs for rest. It involves looking beyond the bad days we experience and viewing ourselves in a kinder light. So remember to:
Reframe negative self-talk. “Always remind yourself that you are valuable as you are, and that you deserve the same kind of love you give others,” says Aiza.
Practice self-compassion. “Instead of being your harshest critic and saying things like ‘I’m so stupid,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ replace these statements with ‘Oh well, that’s not my strength, I’ll just find someone to help me,’” advises Aiza.
Celebrate your achievements. “If you don’t hear enough affirmation from other people (probably because they are going through something themselves), you have to give it to yourself,” Aiza suggests. “Look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I am amazing, I am capable, I am loved.’”
Maintaining relationships may seem time-consuming, but the key to success is to make sure you plan properly. “Having a calendar will help you properly schedule and balance your must-do’s for home and work and your dates with the people most important in your life, including yourself,” advises Aiza.
If you are feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or need advice on how to manage your relationships better, feel free to reach out to MindNation psychologists. Sessions are available 24/7. Book now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.