Improve Your Reaction to Crazy Family Members with one Simple Solution
So, you’ve conquered your self-doubt, you are beginning feeling optimistic, joyful and loving (Yay!)... and then, you go home. Not home like your safe haven home, you know, the place where you slide your heels off and exhale with exhaustion after being around cubemates and humans in general. That’s the place where pajamas rein and where everyone (namely your cat and your boyfriend) knows your name.
I mean home as in the place that birthed you. The place where your triggers, I mean family members, live.
When I get surrounded by my members, Sometimes I get so triggered it feels like a rap song with gun loading sounds in the background. Trigger. Trigger. Trigger.
Sometimes it feels like no matter how much yoga, or professional development you do - when you get your feelings hurt by your mom - you still throw temper tantrums like an eight year old.
You go from Lady Boss to Toddler in a Tiara in 0.2 seconds.
Recently, I was visiting my family members en route to a bachelorette trip in Nashville, Tennessee. My mom, sister and I were out shopping for assorted items at an upscale shopping center where I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. As I scooted out of a store, I stepped out into the street. Mom grabbed me and suddenly a shriek came out of my mouth, as if some alien had taken over my body:
“Mom! What in the actual fuck! I’m a grown up!”
Yesh. I do not like my adultness being threatened, apparently, I’d rather get hit by oncoming traffic than be given a quick brace from a car (which I’m sure was going to stop, right?)
Why do we feel like we have so much to prove when we go home? We want to holler obscure things like:
- “I can walk in the street! I can do bad all by myself!”
- “My boss loves me!”
- “I make six figures!!”
- “The people I sleep with are starting to call me back!”
- “My cat is top of his class!”
- “My yoga instructor said I was improving!”
What we really want to say is I am enough. I am doing what you raised me to do, or better.
But we don’t, we rebel... because we want to prove, prove, prove. The chip on our shoulders is exhausting. I know many of us feel this during Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially when it comes to uncomfortable topics like marriage and politics.
I’m not political, but when my grandfather tells me ‘Democratic’ isn’t a word and talks about immigration - even I get flustered. (He doesn’t even know how I vote! He just assumes)
“You’re the real life version of Grumpy Cat, Papa,” I said back to him.
Often, we are so convinced our family is acting in the patterns we are use to. For example, your story may be “My sister is always a bitch.” So, when she says “That looks small.” You respond, “I AM NOT FAT!”
Whew. Isn’t there a better way to live? There’s got to be right?
Here’s my simple solution: Pause. And confirm.
Ask your sister, “Did you mean to imply I’m fat? I’m struggling with my weight.”
To which she replies, “Of course not!”
This helps both of you because A) She’s aware what she said may have triggered you. B) You can start to discount your stories, eventually, they’ll dissipate altogether.
The next step is to understand your family deeply. When we start to understand that no matter how awesome we are, the world doesn’t revolve around us. If we’re taking our family, friends or lover’s moods personally, we aren’t taking the time to think about what they’re going through in their lives.
I want you to ask yourself, “What story am I currently telling myself about my family?”
Even after working through forgiving your tribe, you may still feel stuck with the old story you tell yourself about your family.
Maybe yours is along the lines of, “They just don’t support what I do.” or “No matter what I do, I’m not good enough.” Or, perhaps you feel like you just don’t fit in. I’ve been there.
Recently, I hopped on a big jet plane to California for several business meetings and as a bonus, I got to stay with my two cool friends I met in college. Sleeping on an air mattress and chasing my dreams simultaneously was just the combination I needed to feel like I was on the trajectory of success.
Yet, as I sat snuggled in with two random people in my coach seat, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘My family doesn’t even know I’m leaving today! Why don’t they care? Why aren’t they more proud of me?’
After what seemed like three gnawing hours on a plane ‘blahblahblah’ing the crap out of my negative family-doesn’t-care-about-me-story, while also trying to ignore said couple making out next to me while watching Taken…. I decided I was going to switch the story.
I said simply to myself, “My family is excited for me and they are proud.”
Like magic, for the next few days, each text I got from them was supportive, kind and loving.
How amazing is that? It’s true, what you focus on expands. By changing my negative opinions and dialogues about my assholes, they softened.
You can’t change other people, but you can laugh at them. If none of my hippie life coachings work on you - the least we can do is laugh at our assholes.