Easter is a time of year where families often come together. Now that’s great if you enjoy spending time with all your family members. But what if there is the odd person or two that you find not so great to spend time with, and whom you always seem to get into challenging situations with?
The most common problems I hear when it comes to difficult family relationships are...
- Dealing with past hurts and resentments
- Dealing with people who irritate you
- Feeling victimised, or belittled or any kind of negative comments
- Handling people who seem to know how to ‘push your buttons’
- Dealing with not feeling heard.
Most therapists or practitioners will give you strategies to deal with the situations, and they might go something like this...
- Avoid ‘difficult’ relationships or limit your time with those people
- Set boundaries
- Keep your integrity
- Empower yourself
- Forget your biological family and create your own ‘family’.
None of these tips really help with the problem itself, but are really strategies for managing around it. They may help in the short term, but do nothing to improve the relationship and may possibly make it worse.
Want to know how to have a great Easter regardless of whom you spend time with?
I’m not going to suggest any king of strategy or technique. Besides I’ve never been interested in short term fixes. But before I say anymore I may be a bit controversial at the outset by suggesting the following...
There is no such thing as a ‘difficult’ relationship or person.
I am not saying you can’t experience a relationship or a person as difficult, but the key to creating connected, compassionate and understanding relationships is knowing that it is always YOU that is creating the experience. It’s not coming from the other person.
I know this can be a tricky concept to get your head around, and pretty much most people you speak to will probably tell you the opposite of what I’m suggesting. One of the latest psychology magazines I picked up had an article with the following paragraph –
“Difficult people are everywhere, like it or not. It’s pretty certain that at some point in your life you’ll come across a challenging person and will have to find a way to deal with them.”
This interpretation says a lot about the writer and not so much about the world being full of difficult people. I’m guessing anyone that resonates with the writer also regularly falls into the illusion, albeit innocently, that their feelings come from other people and not what they create through their own thought generated experiences.
Do I ever think I experience some people as challenging? Yes, of course I do. But I have insightfully seen enough to know that is not possible and therefore (most of the time) do not respond to the illusion in the moment, no matter how real it looks.
The real proof?
Having seen the understanding insightfully on how we create our experience of our relationships, has changed many of my family relationships beyond recognition and likewise for many (if not all!) of my clients too.
Once upon a time I had family members that used to irritate me dreadfully on every get together, and others that I would dread seeing, or avoid all together.
Now? I cannot imagine being in a better, more loving, more compassionate place with those family members than I already am. The people I’m referring to haven’t changed at all, but how I experience the world and the people in it most definitely has, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I was just reflecting the other day how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family and how different it once used to be.
If you find any of your family relationships challenging and are tired of using strategies to try and help, and are ready to try something new with an open mind and fresh approach, then join me for a truly transformational weekend:
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or are unable to travel.