“Whenever you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” – Ram Dass.
Wise words from a guru. Now I don’t feel so bad because whenever I think I may finally have my sh*t together, I too just need to spend a little time with my family.
And before I found coaching, I used to always feel like such a victim around my family. Always so reactive, judgmental and I complained all the time. But after about 10 years of practicing this stuff, I’ve learned, just like everything else……
I have all the power over my actions and reactions in life.
Believe it or not, when you’re around your family, it’s the absolute PERFECT time to work on yourself.
Don’t avoid it. Or just grin and bear it. Embrace it.
Like everything that’s hard-won, it just takes a little work. You’ll build your mental muscle and get all the stronger in any kind of family-ish situation. One day, I promise, family time will all become a fun experiment.
Here are a few tricks to shove up your sleeve during some of those supercharged family get-togethers:
1: Stay out of it. If the conversation gets heated, take a mental break. You can either get up and take a breather or just go inside yourself and literally breathe. You don’t need to convince anyone of anything. Nor do you have to “teach” them anything. Your opinions and beliefs matter to you…and theirs do to them. Let them have them.
2: Don’t get defensive. Don’t take the bait. There are some people out there that love nothing more than to rile us up. Some of these “discussions” are kind of like a game of tennis. It starts as a simple volley, but slowly escalates into a full-blown battle… and then ends up with someone getting a zinger between the legs. Let them bat a few balls to you…..when they amp up, you can stop batting back and just let the ball go. The game gets boring and they’ll find another opponent.
3: Don’t judge or complain. Judging and complaining keep you in crazy-reactive mode…..and a victim. Resist the urge. And, yes, it is an urge. It’s an urge to prove yourself right and find an ally in your fight. You don’t need to prove anything and you don’t need allies in this war. Just stop. Trying to control what other people say and/or think about you is a losing battle. Every. Single. Time.
4: Get curious. Ask yourself, “Why? Why does (so and so) need to say anything?” Well? Why do you think? Is it REALLY about you? Or is it actually about them? Most of what people say has nothing to do with you (even though it may SEEM like it does). Next time you feel affronted……..STOP. Don’t react. Go inside yourself and ask…..”What’s this REALLY about?” Most of the time, you’ll realize it’s not about you at all, but some insecurity in them.
5: Have some compassion. This is a tough one, but when you realize that most of people’s comments are about them (see above), you can almost feel a bit sorry for them. Look for a place they need some compassion. It’s probably hard for your sister to see you succeed just a bit….it reminds her of what she’s not doing. It also may be hard for your parents to see you be different than them. It reminds them of how they may have “done it wrong”. Again, it’s usually never about you. It’s really almost always about them.
6: Take the high road. Lead by example. When you act differently, people act differently. If you don’t like the way people are acting, take a long look in the mirror and see where you fit in. Changing family patterns takes time, but you’re just the person to do it.
7: Show appreciation. This one is true enlightenment. Tell your brother something you really admire about him..and mean it. You can change this dynamic. Maybe not how he acts, but certainly how you do. You cannot be APPRECIATIVE and angry at the same time. Try it. Think about someone you’re angry with and then think of something you actually do appreciate about them. It’s impossible to be in both feelings. So if you want to feel better this year, do your damndest to find ONE, LITTLE THING you could find in them that’s not so bad.
You can do these gatherings like a Total Badass.
You just need to “be the change” and things will change.
PS If you’re reading this around the holidays, click here to read my top 5 ways to do the Holidays like a total badass!