All The Psychology

Dealing With Difficult Family Relationships + Wired for Happy’s Birth


I kept typing bitch, instead of birth…

fake buddha


If you’ve never given birth, I assure you, it sucks. Because my unborn son was eight days late, I had the pleasure of experiencing birth twice — “naturally” for the first 36 hours, and via Emergency C-section because he was running his own program, and his passive-aggressive meandering threatened to kill us both.

Of course I was through the moon once I held him. And once safely home it didn’t take long for well-wishers to call with requests for pictures. Honestly, a photo of a generic, wrinkly baby was the last thing on my weary mind. Plus the cute fairy hadn’t graced us yet, so I bucked tradition and waited six weeks. Little did I know, that was the tip of the family iceberg regarding how I should parent my son differently.

Chances are you’ve felt pressured to conform to others’ requests to do things their way. Maybe you acquiesced in the name of keeping peace, or convention, or maybe you rebelled. Or maybe you spent days or years trying to get someone to see your point of view.

To no avail.

Despite your Herculean efforts and many a Martini-infused hangover, you know you can’t change another person. But yet, you still keep trying…

Let’s say you’re dreading the stress of the upcoming holiday season. There’s a 1,001 valid reasons why your family should change.


~Does your mom need to go into emotional overdrive right before the turkey is served every damn year?


~Should your spouse stonewall your brother because he still hasn’t paid the $200.00 from 2004?


~Must Uncle Joe consume four bottles of red?


Of. Course. Not.


(But, Cheers!)


Dealing With Difficult Family Relationships


When it comes to relationship stress, you have three choices:

  1. Maintain the status quo (AKA, react how you always do)
  2. Try to change the other person (or 11).
  3. Change yourself.


Spoiler alert: According to research, #1 is the most common choice. The main reason: We don’t want to confront The Truth. It’s easier to hide in denial and hope things mysteriously change on their own.


The Other “C” Word


Allow me to digress from the “fun family gatherings” theme and call myself out for just how difficult it is to change YOU.

When it came to relaunching TalkTherapyBiz, the mental wellness blog I started four years ago, I was a mess of angst, excitement and big bottles of beer dreams.

It was the chance to undo the mistakes of the past and reinvent myself into the ideal version of me.

Calm Academy was hatched. I envisioned a community of intrepid souls gathered online under an affordable monthly membership taking in videos, tutorials, interviews, calming Mp3s + bimonthly group calls. If there was an app that served green serenity tea, I’d have included that, too.

I excitedly sent a text to my friend Rachel: Which domain do you like better: Calm Academy or Anxiety to Zen?

Her response: Neither. These aren’t you…you’re not zen. Let’s talk tomorrow.

After a few sad moments I thought, She’s right. I’m not Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, or Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha. I can continue to delude myself into thinking I represent ‘zen,’ or I could meet my truth head on.

So I consulted my mentor, Erika Napoletano, and just like that, Wired for Happy was born. (Thanks Erika!).


Real is the New Black


When was the last time your hopes were dashed because someone spoke the truth? Were you thankful, relieved, disappointed, furious, paralyzed with fear? What did you do?

If you projected your uncomfortable emotions onto the honesty whisperer, you’re not alone. But that only works for so long. And you know that.

The truth is I’m not always calm, and my breasts will never be as buoyant as before I nursed my ungrateful son. That’s okay —Los Angeles doesn’t need another female over 16 in a white tee and a Victoria’s Secret Lace & Tulle push-up bra. But we do need more people who accept themselves for who they are, giggly parts and all.

The biggest thief of mental wellness and happiness is not owning your truth. If your mom doesn’t want to own hers, so be it. You’re not the boss of her, and unless her behavior falls outside the law, she doesn’t have to change. But you can change you. You can ‘rewire’ those brain synapses that say, “I can’t.” You can have more positive emotions, and spend more time around positive people. I’d love to help you get on the right side of happy. And that my friends is the true goal of this new site.


Welcome to Wired for Happy. I’m Linda — I may not be zen, but my heart’s in the right place.




To check out Team Happy, click here.

To join Team Happy now, click here.

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About Linda Esposito

Welcome to Wired for Happy, a home for psychologically curious people. If you've ever felt like your mind has a mind of its own, this site is for you. I’m Linda Esposito, the author and psychotherapist of the site. You can also find my mental health writings @HuffPost and @PsychToday. The thing is, we all feel depressed and anxious at times. Knowing you’re not alone goes a long way toward finding peace of mind. In doing my part to help end the stigma around mental health, I share tools, strategies and stories about what’s worked in Therapy and in Life. And we have fun here, too! For information about joining Team Happy, click here.

Read all posts by Linda Esposito