Letting Go of the Past Challenge – Day 5: In the Living Years

Music can bring back memories and emotions like few other things in our lives – for instance, you may remember a song by the group Mike and the Mechanics called “In the Living Years,” released in 1988. It was a beautiful song often played on radio stations around the country. Some would say it became overplayed, but isn’t that what usually happens with popular songs?

The message of the song is that if we wait until people die, we won’t be able to tell them what they mean to us and that we love them. The chorus mentions that people find it hard to admit not seeing eye to eye. In truth, we can only admit this fault to someone when we’re alive. The song seems to be directed at parent/adult children relationships, which can be challenging, but the sentiment is also appropriate for anyone you’re currently close to or who you have been close with, including family and friends.

By holding onto the past and carrying grudges, you risk not being able to try to make things right while you both are still living. You always think you have another day – another tomorrow to do it.

Putting off dealing with the situation is not the answer, because one day you could find that the other person is no longer with you – especially if the situation caused a break in communication. Life truly is as short as people say it is.

What many people find when try to talk things out with the other person, is that they often can’t remember the exact situation or circumstance that upset them in the first place. Time and distance can make the incident become trivial.

Think about a time when you and a family member or friend put aside your differences. You may have gotten a good laugh about how it all came to be – maybe both of you admitting that whatever started the conflict simply wasn’t worth it. That often happens in these types of situations.

Our family is all we have in the world. Even as friends come and go, and even with good friends who feel like family, we still need the support of our families. While work and community obligations are important, try to make time to see your family as often as you can.

That’s obviously tougher now  when families are spread further apart due to their physical location or other factors, but even families live geographically close to each other often don’t visit as much as they should.

When you do get together with your family, if you don’t tend to see eye-to-eye with certain members of the family, try to keep the conversations away from sensitive areas. If you have serious differences of opinion regarding politics and find it hard to keep the conversation civil while discussing the subject, try talking about sports instead.

If the conversation turns to sensitive subjects, try your best to keep the conversations respectful while refusing to indulge that family member who loves to go on the attack. Consider all views whenever possible and make a special effort to keep an open mind. The phrase, “agree to disagree” is a great one to try to diffuse these volatile situations before they degenerate into personal attacks, but at the same time, you are not obligated to endure verbal abuse from anyone.

If pride (theirs or yours) is getting in the way of speaking in a civil manner with a family member, try to cast it aside and change the subject. Tell the family member involved, using a serious and calm tone of voice, that you want to continue talking with them, but would prefer to change subjects so that you can continue to enjoy each other’s company and instead of arguing.  It could be just the right instance to get something positive going once again, while respecting each other’s differences.

You don’t always have to agree with your family members on every subject, but the idea is to promote a sense of familial comfort while avoiding topics that will cause emotional hurt and create emotional distance, which serves no one. Spend your Living Years being grateful for everything you have – including your family – instead of feeling conflicted and being involved in conflict.