The art of downplaying: how, when, and why it’s needed in the family
Downplaying in times of turmoil: do we know how to do it? It may seem like
an obvious topic, but maybe it’s not so obvious. How capable are we of
turning a tense situation into an opportunity to smile? How accustomed are
we to seeing the positive side of what happens to us? How much time do we
spend complaining in a day?
When inconvenience is exaggerated
Families can experience tension, nervousness, and conflict when
inconvenience becomes magnified.
Certainly, there are many reasons for becoming frustrated: financial
burdens, work fatigue, friction in the workplace, health issues,
difficulties in managing situations involving children, care of elderly
parents, disagreements with relatives, and much more.
On top of all that, we have spent the past two years in a pandemic, dealing
with all the restrictions that came with it, as well as strain on the
medical field and health difficulties.
The ongoing quarantines that have forced children to stay home, for
example, has created stress for many families, leaving parents struggling
to find someone to care for their children. Some have even had to take a
pay cut in order to receive parental leave.
Yet, how we react to what happens to us has a direct effect on positive
Learning how to be grateful and getting used to appreciating the good
A few days ago, a person I hold in high regard said, “The start of every
war is ungratefulness. We aren’t happy with what we have. We want more. If
we knew how to focus on what we have and not on what we lack, we would be
so grateful that we would feel no need to take something away from
Ungratefulness causes not only wars between nations, but also creates
conflict between individuals—both at home and in friendship. Everywhere. It
generates that nagging feeling of “not having enough.”
Let’s try a family exercise: let’s ask ourselves every day what is good in
our lives and reflect on the things for which we should say “thank you.” It
is important to teach our children to do this too, if we don’t want that
insatiable emptiness of those who have everything—yet are never happy—to
arise in them.
Look from the outside, breathe deeply, and start again
Some people downplay, relativize, and only look at the positive side of
things, while there are others who overdo it, causing a total loss of
harmony in the household. There is no judgment toward anyone who might
struggle to become wealthier, but why not try to have a little better
quality of life?
When feeling overwhelmed by a situation, try to look at yourself from the
outside: it will allow you to be more clear-headed. It also gives you the
chance to experience healthy detachment, allowing you to put a problem into
perspective. Any family who has learned the art of downplaying a problem¾or
putting it into perspective¾has an advantage.
One mom, who had to do this with her children¾four being quarantined in two
months’ time¾ told me, “It’s true, I had to work late to finish any tasks
of the day since I had to help my children who were in quarantine, but in
return, I now know all the animal species that exist in the world thanks to
a Noah’s ark board game that I played with my son nearly 35 times. I can
honestly say that choosing to roll with it, we had some peaceful days. In
fact, perhaps much too peaceful, judging by the feedback from other parents
who were in the same boat as us, and I really felt bad about that.”
Sometimes you just have to realize that you aren’t dying… life goes on… and
it’s good to look at something from another vantage point.
I once read in an article, “When you are able to laugh at something, you
can let go of tensions built up in your system, producing quite a
beneficial effect in your mind. Downplaying a knot in your throat that you
have to swallow by laughing can grease those gears. In having this sort of
approach, everything tends to appear less complicated and a positive
solution more reachable.”