Title: Acceptance and Growth: Finding Peace Amidst Family Conflicts
Ms. X, a 32-year-old second-generation Korean American, has been grappling with anxiety stemming from the stresses of dealing with her elderly parents. After being hospitalized for a brief psychotic episode related to her cannabis abuse, she moved back home three years ago. Currently working remotely as a contracting statistician, she finds herself under close surveillance by her parents, who fear a potential relapse. They monitor her closely and become nervous when they observe any unusual behaviors, such as head shaking, pacing, or self-talk. They limit her access to cars, fearing that she may attempt to purchase substances. They even demand that she wear masks when going out and avoid crowded public places, even after the pandemic has subsided. To her dismay, they enter her room without seeking her permission, closing windows and imposing their rigid worldview upon her.
Feeling increasingly annoyed by her parents' imposition of their beliefs upon her, Ms. X retreats to her room in order to avoid interaction. Recognizing that her parents have been living within a restricted lifestyle since retirement, she decides to reach out and communicate with them. Hoping to improve their relationship, she presents them with facts, data, and new information, seeking to educate them. However, she becomes disappointed and frustrated as her attempts prove to be ineffective. "They told me that they heard me, but nothing has changed," she laments.
During our recent session, Ms. X reveals that she has not been bothered by her parents' behaviors over the past few months. She explains that she has come to accept them for who they are. Addressing my curiosity, she elaborates on her realization that people are fundamentally different, and any attempts to change them are futile unless they are ready or willing to change themselves. "I don't need to share my views expecting them to change. It's like talking to a wall and expecting the wall to change," she acknowledges. She understands her parents' frustration, recognizing that to them, she is the immovable wall they cannot change. This realization has been a slow process for her, and she no longer views her attempts to change her parents as failures, but rather as lessons that have taught her valuable insights.
Reflecting on her life journey, Ms. X shares, "When I was a child, I adopted my parents' worldview without questioning. Gradually, I developed my own views and ideas, different from theirs, but I was afraid to argue or express them openly. Eventually, I gained the courage to speak to them honestly, but it often resulted in annoyance or resistance. It was through learning to let go and live with our differences that I found peace." Recognizing that both she and her parents have gone through changes over the years, she now understands that people naturally change at their own pace and readiness. She has learned to present data to her parents without any expectations of a specific outcome. By embracing the present moment and allowing the natural process of change to unfold, she has discovered a sense of peace amidst conflicts.
Ms. X's journey serves as a powerful reminder that acceptance and growth are key to finding peace amidst family conflicts. Her realization that attempting to change others is often futile unless they are ready or willing to change themselves holds valuable lessons for individuals trapped in the impasses of trying to change each other within their families and society at large. By embracing acceptance, respecting differences, and focusing on personal growth, we can create harmonious relationships and foster a more understanding and compassionate world.
Keywords: acceptance, growth, peace, family conflicts, second generation, anxiety, stresses, elderly parents, hospitalization, psychotic episode, cannabis abuse, remote work, relapse, monitoring, unusual behaviors, restrictions, communication, disappointment, frustration, acceptance, differences, realization, gradual change, teacher, life journey, worldview, courage, letting go, present moment.
Paul Yang, MD., Ph.D.