Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist who specializes in helping clients deal with the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

I’ll start with a shorter version of the title of this article. Here goes:

“If I were a fly on the wall in your home, what would I see?”

Think about how you might answer this question. I’m not talking about what you cook for dinner. But I am interested in what I—or someone else who didn’t know you—might learn about what your home is like from an emotional perspective. For example:

  • Is everybody getting along, or is the air poisoned by constant tension?
  • Does everybody treat each other with respect and kindness?
  • Can everybody express their feelings to each other and know they will be heard?

These are just a few of the questions you might consider as you think about the emotional atmosphere in your abode.

Inventory your home’s emotional atmosphere

Why do I think it is important to ask these questions? Your home is a safe space. I know we hear that term a lot these days. But when it comes to your home, it’s important for everybody to be able to look forward to being there, to know that you can expect to be cared for, that you can be yourself, that you are surrounded by people who want the best for you. That’s what home is all about, right?

Keep in mind that a healthy emotional atmosphere at home promotes wellness. It helps everyone to keep the stress down, to feel loved and cared for. Lower stress, and ample support, are keys to managing your chronic condition.

Here’s what to look for—and where to make improvements—as you consider the emotional atmosphere at your place:

Open ears. This means knowing that the other people in the household are willing listeners. And that if you have something to say, you have the attention of those around you. And that you’re willing to provide the same. Conversations are two way, and frequent.

Acceptance. When a household member speaks, they are met with an open mind, not with criticism and judgment. An attitude of goodwill permeates the household. Actions are assumed to be well meaning, even if a little flat-footed at times. It’s okay to have a bad day; nobody is going to take it personally and retaliate.

Honesty. When everybody feels unconditional acceptance, they are also more likely to be honest. The two go hand in hand. Words are spoken out of kindness and concern—not out of a desire to do harm—with the goal of deeper understanding. When honesty is the standard, there’s no room for hidden agendas, self-protective avoidance, or the resentment that follows.

Encouragement. Pep talks occur on a daily basis. Anyone who is having a rough time knows that, without even asking, smiles, kind words, and hugs will be coming their way. Everybody wants the best for each other. Somebody’s always got your back. How do you know? Because they’re patting it.

Growth. Honesty and encouragement help each individual to grow on their own path, and the family also grows as a unit. Throwing in an occasional dose of tough love, delivered with kindness and compassion, can jump start a big leap forward.

We-ness. Each individual considers the needs of others along with their own needs. This promotes positive energy and harmony. Adults model this behavior for their children, who benefit by learning how to be aware of other people’s emotions. This helps them to be more successful in life, and their personal relationships are enhanced immeasurably. The cycle continues.

So, suppose a fly lands on the wall in your home and takes a look around. How about everybody pitching in to create an environment that promotes emotional wellness? It only takes one person to get the ball rolling. Ready to take the lead?

What helps you and your family to create a healthy emotional atmosphere in your home? Share your suggestions by commenting below.