When life becomes difficult, we crave for the way it used to be. We desperately want to go back to what we know, what worked, what was comfortable, and that which brought us joy and happiness. There isn’t anything wrong with this thinking. It’s pretty normal. The problem is that in an attempt to recreate those feelings, no matter how hard we try, we can’t get back there. Why? Because our perception of what was and expectation of what should be, is often skewed.
Think about planning a wedding, or your child’s first birthday, or a dream vacation… subconsciously we want it to go off perfectly and without a hitch. The same skewed thinking happens when we recall events. Sometimes our memory of what took place is better than it actually was. So you see the expectations of what should be may be unrealistic and/or the perception of events or relationships in the past may be more glamorous than they really were. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Some of the families that I have had the privilege of working with are struggling to get back to where they were before one of them was injured. Their perception is that the ‘old life’ was perfect. It wasn’t. They expect that if they just work hard, and harder, they can recreate it. They can’t. The experience alone has changed all of them. Add cognitive and/or physical challenges to the mix and it’s a given they won’t get back to exactly who they were as a family. That isn’t to say it can’t or won’t be good or great again, it just won’t be the same as it was.
Tragedy, catastrophic injury, and chronic illness are some of the reasons that a family undergoes significant change. Other causes include addictions, financial stresses, and more. In all instances, the family members may lose their connection to one another. The demands and burdens these changes bring to a family interrupts how they function as a unit and therefore, relate to one another.
Working through significant issues with a trained professional is often beneficial in helping families to reconnect. However, using a mindful approach to reconnect in day-to-day interactions with one another is also helpful. Rather than striving to reach perfection in planning an event or in recreating past feelings, strive for connection. Make the focus on connecting with each other and enjoying being together. Create memories and don’t focus on the past. If the desire is to move forward then remember and enjoy the past – just don’t live in it.