Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Are Family Gatherings Painful? How to deal with difficult people!
Do you love your family but react negatively to them at the same time? Have you felt judged by people who are supposed to love you unconditionally? Well watch out because we are approaching the holidays – the time of year when a lot of unresolved pain could roar back into your life. In this article I will give you the tools to address and heal old wounds. That means looking at each relationship with new eyes. Do you remember when you were in kindergarten? You sat in a little chair behind a tiny desk. Well, guess what, you now possess a beautiful adult body that no longer fits in that teeny desk or scenario. In the same way, trying to operate from old outmoded thought patterns that continually bring pain no longer work. In the same way, holding on to relationships and memories that need to go, does not serve your highest good. Just because you belong to a family or tribe doesn’t mean you have to allow the expectations and demands of others be a source of unhappiness and stress, especially when what you really want is to be authentically yourself and at peace. Conflicts may appear to be a choice between being authentically yourself and being at war with your relatives, or having “pretend” peace at the price of being phony. Yet, being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your family. First, though, you may have to assess your relationship with yourself. In order to change the nature of any relationship, you have to adjust your thinking about it and consider that you are the source of your discomfort, rather than the individual you've labeled as the troublemaker, annoyance and despicable. The rule is that people treat you the way you have trained them to treat you. Over the years, all of these folks have been treating you exactly as you have trained them with your reactions and behaviors. This can miraculously change when you choose to be at peace with everyone in your life—most particularly, your relatives. If the focus of your internal dialogue about your relationships is it on what they're doing wrong, then that's precisely how your relationship with them will be experienced. If your mind-chatter centers on what's annoying about them that will be your focus. But if you're thinking, I am authentic and peaceful with this relative, then that's what you will experience—even if that person continues to be exactly the way he or she has always been. In other words, make your decision about yourself and stand by it. Often we busy ourselves deciding how others should be and then when they are not that - respectful, considerate, kind, thoughtful - we are angry. This is a victim mentality. We are the victim and they are the perpetrators. The problem with this conclusion is that we make ourselves weak and at the mercy of others. Plus, we are not taking into account who and what that person has chosen to be. In other words, actions speak louder than words. What do they do and why? This examination requires looking at each person objectively. For instance, if Aunt Hannah has a knack for finding something wrong with everything, it is good to understand that is her quirk. It is not your job to change her. In reality, she is making herself miserable and you don’t have to volunteer to be her sidekick and also unhappy. In other words, accept Aunt Hannah as the critical person she chooses to be and let go. If cousin Harvey likes to make fun of people because that is how he feels better about himself, accept that he has chosen this behavior and by correcting or reacting to him, you have given him exactly what he wants – attention. Cousin Harvey is that way. He feels inferior. Accept it. Don’t take it personally. The key to happiness is taking care of your own business and letting others take care of theirs. In time you might find these strange behaviors humorous, even quaint. The unalterable and ever effective way to experience peace is forgiveness. Your relatives are simply doing what they have been taught to do over lifetimes of their predecessors. Perhaps they have never questions these tactics. A wise, grounded person steps away from others’ judgments and expectations and chooses instead to shower these same folks with compassion and forgiveness. You are literally doing what masters have suggested for eons. Forgive them for they know not what they do. In other words, they don’t understand that they hurt themselves more than they hurt anyone else. They have wounds that do not allow such introspection. Rather than keeping yourself stressed, be radical and decide to be grateful for their presence in your life as it offers an opportunity for growth. This is like the Buddhist monk who, when informed that he would be dealing with a very difficult teacher, said, “Oh good; I can practice!” True, life is nothing if not practice. Each time you let go of struggle and anxiety, you grow a bit stronger and wiser. So, yes, holidays are for practice. There is also a bonus likelihood that you will see dramatic changes in your relatives as you instruct them with your own persona. But if they don't choose to modify, and they continue their conflicting, intrusive ways, release your need to convert them. Love them warts and all. Your work is YOU anyway. As you embrace peace, you increase the odds of others doing the same. It is all a matter of choice. If accepting people for who they choose to be is too much, then find another way to enjoy the holidays. The point is nothing they do has anything to do with you. Each person is expressing his own level of development. The quicker you come to terms with it, the faster you grow and transform – the caterpillar becomes the butterfly!!! Have fun!! Jean Walters is a St. Louis Transformational Coach specializing in empowerment. Her books: Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible - Others have and you can too! and Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU were meant to live! are available on Amazon.com - you can reach her through her website: http://www.spiritualtransformation.com