Our Families Shape Us
This book may be read as one about psychology, family, team, leadership, or individual growth.
According to Johns Hopkins Medical Research, an estimated 26% of Americans age eighteen and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder yearly. In addition, one in twenty-five Americans lives with a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Mental health disorders are snowballing across all countries. Yet, they remain widely under-reported, creating an economic problem as a social one. The phenomenon is not just in the USA. Rather, it is worldwide.
A nurturing family environment can play an instrumental role in addressing this challenge. As the tiny neurons create and connect, the feeling of belonging and the reassuring confidence to be heard goes a long way in strengthening emotional resilience.
Through a series of conversations, three individuals experiencing life differently bring to light the role families play in nurturing wholesome individuals and, hence, societal well-being. We are a mother-daughters trio who bond over tangible projects and philosophical conversations. Through the day, we oscillate in our individual journeys, searching for our questions and their answers. Then, as the night falls, we lean in on each other to broaden our perspectives or sometimes just to feel heard as we prepare to venture into the world the next day.
The pandemic was changing everything rapidly. While we waited to preview the future, the similarity in the news circulating on TV, corporations, universities, and schools became apparent. Within days, the jambalaya of topics had tilted from natural catastrophe to mental health, anxiety, substance misuse, insomnia, depression, and more. Young kids and adults alike were impacted across the world.
We, too, had started experiencing the weight of loneliness locked up inside our rooms, often glued to our screens. Debates flared up between the openness of our commute-free evenings and the opacity of our disturbed minds. Arguments morphed into discussions. And as we connected, we felt lighter, not alone anymore. Humans are feeling objects that think. We are happier when we feel connected. Heard. Seen. We thrive when we are free to be ourselves - becoming ourselves, being a journey of action, reflections, and adaptation.
Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle makes this a rather challenging endeavor in the cacophony of voices, biases, and expectations. Fortunately, within the confinement of our home resides the perfect antidote. Family values are emphasized across cultures, yet this ancestral awareness is lost in our fast and furious race for progress. Families like teams can mold us to become thriving individuals or disturbed beings. We, too, as a family had experienced both ends - the good and the bad. As we became conscious of the influence we had on each other’s life, we tried to create only a positive difference. Practice improved our chances of success.
The subtlety of experience was in intentionality, which makes us aware of ourselves and of others. However, when driven by reactive compulsions of today’s lifestyle, we tend to either take each other for granted or simply ignore them. This realization was quite unsettling.
Then, as we shared our stories with friends and colleagues, they sparked conversations for them, reconnecting them with their families. Stories were instrumental in rekindling close ties. More importantly, stories had a commonality across families.
In December of 2021, we caught the bug and were confined inside our respective rooms to quarantine. But we continued our discussions, only this time over Facetime and Google Docs. Writing was cathartic and made conversations clearer. Through it all ignited the idea to co-write this book to capture topics that often surface in conversations across age and life stages.
Our circle of trust starts with our family unit and extends to close friends and extended family members. Yours may be different. We hope that by sharing our stories or trials and tribulations of candid conversations with each other, we have fostered the idea of investing in building your circle of trust. And then indulge in genuine conversations - talking freely and listening intently without judgment. Because once we try and experience the benefits of candid discussions, we want to try more. Each step we take toward each other makes us feel more wholesome.