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DEALING WITH TRICKY FAMILY MEMBERS (1)

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TFM situations are emotional and whether you’ve had long-standing anger and hurt or it’s finally been acknowledged and come to the surface due to allowing your feelings through allowing recognition of the situation, it’s vital to face these because the alternative is to suppress and repress them. The latter isn’t going to work because it is will gradually erode at your well-being – emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual. Holding on to anger emotions including resentment, hate, frustration will literally eat away at you and there comes a point where you realise that you don’t want to be consumed by it anymore because aside from having a life to live, it’s only hurting you.

For a long time, without me fully recognising it, I harboured the anger of a little girl who had her heart broken over and over and over again and who then and who blamed herself for other people’s behaviour. I compensated for this with people pleasing and tried my best to keep the peace and to accommodate everyone’s issues and habits. And then I found myself seriously unwell and I had to make some tough choices – keep going with what I was doing or, start to take care of myself and finally set some boundaries with family. My choice put me in the driving seat of my life and it stopped me from victimising me over and over again. Ten years down the road and while I still contend with TFM issues from time to time, I am infinitely happier and far less impacted. I also bounce back relatively quickly and now have the perspective as well as self-care habits to no longer personalise their behaviour.

I have forgiven myself for what I did not know in the past and I’ve done this by having better boundaries for me and by extension, better boundaries with them.

I have forgiven my younger self and I’ve also forgiven me for judging and blaming me.

I am able to gradually move on from issues with family because the adjustment in mental and physical boundaries where I acknowledge my part no matter how small, means that we’re not, at least from my end, rooted in the past.

It does hurt when TFMs cross boundaries or don’t seek to reach resolution or even apologise but you know what? I’ve learned to, as the saying goes, accept an apology that I never got because by having compassion for me and them and seeing where they are coming from without feeling responsible for their feelings, behaviour or trying to make them change or see things in a certain way, I am freer. I have had to distance myself at times and yes, there’s family that I’m not in touch with anymore but I don’t harbour any resentment towards them. It’s time to live and let live.

What I’m talking about is forgiveness, letting go, not because you’re trying to send a message to that person but more because you are forgiving you and as such, no longer holding you to that situation and keeping you locked in the past.

You choose and keep re-choosing to be done with returning to the situation in the same way that you have before, whether it’s emotionally, mentally or physically. There’s less of a focus on who is right, injustice, winning and losing and instead it’s about, OK, I feel this and I’ve been through this. How can I help me?

The person you are hardest on is you. Even when it feels as if a lot of your feelings are directed at the other party, the sense of injustice, anger, hurt etc, is attached to on some level, giving you a hard time whether it’s actively or in an unconscious and passive manner.

You can end up holding on to anger because a part of you may not want to be vulnerable in the sense of seeing you, your feelings, the situation and even that person more clearly. You won’t have to risk and trust you.

Holding on to anger and hurt also helps you to preserve the past or ideals for the future because at the point where you forgive you (and even the other party if you so choose), you are accepting what is. You’re not saying that you like everything or that you’re OK-ing what they did but you’re accepting who they are in full.

When you continue to battle whether it’s internally or directly with this person, there’s still the seeming possibility of righting the wrongs of the past or trying to get this person to live up to the picture that you’ve painted in your mind. You’re human so it’s entirely normal to do this.

Depending on how far back issues run, there can be a part of you that may feel as if letting go, acceptance of what is etc, is like ‘giving up’ for a younger part of you or even about making that person right or conceding something.

You forgiving you isn’t about giving up; it’s about giving to you. As you’re not God, a higher power or even Judge Judy, you don’t get to hand out reprieves. Sure, it’s nice to say that you forgive someone when you mean it but if it’s one of those knee-jerk kinda things or even done out of obligation, it’s not sincere.

This is your journey and each time you have anger, resentment, hurt, frustration and more about a person or situation, that’s a path you walk for a time and you have to consciously choose how you want to deal with it because these feelings left unattended or fed with harsh messaging, will consume you.

You’re not condoning anyone or anything by forgiving; you recognise what happened and you’re not going to hold you under arrest for it or prisoner for it, any longer. You accept that you cannot change what they did but that you can change how you respond to it, now and going forward.

So with this, I want to share a few tips that have been pivotal in healing from hurt and feeling good about myself and life:

Let go of your attachment to the story and the picture you’ve painted in your mind.

It’s at this point that not only do you accept them for who they are without judging you for who they’re not, but you can acknowledge disappointment and the hurt and possible anger that comes with it.

Accept what you know at this time.

You don’t need to play Columbo or understand this person to the nth degree, especially because on some level you’re looking for something that makes sense to you in the sense of it either providing you with a solution to something you’ve blamed you for, or trying to correct a reasoning that you came up with. But you came up with the reasoning so if you judged you as a result of this person, instead of looking for more information about that person or the situation, what you really need to do is stop looking at the problem in the same way because you’re treating their actions and the situation as a you-problem. Accept what you know at this time, fully and wholly so that you can really begin to heal. Trying to make sense of out of what may be highly inappropriate, nonsensical or just plain crazy stuff, is a fast track to wrecking your own head and destroying your inner peace even further. You are not the same person, you’re not coming from the same level of awareness and unless you would behave and think in their way, you cannot ‘solve’ this all out. Humans don’t do things purely based on logic, rationale or who is ‘deserving’ hence you can’t think about things in those terms.

Stop hurting you with blame thoughts.

Whether it’s you now, or you when you were younger, stop blaming him/her. It’s persecution and self-torture. Blaming you will not change anything but your state of mind and overall well-being. It won’t fix anything, it won’t take responsibility for anything, it won’t change the past but it will definitely negatively impact on your present and future. If you have specifically done something, you can take ownership of that and either make amends and/or endeavour to grow out of the experience and do better next time round – life keeps throwing you up lessons so you will get other opportunities to handle whatever it in a different way each time. If it’s not something that you would blame other people for, check yourself. If you’re blaming your younger self and you wouldn’t blame a child for the same thing, check yourself.

And stop carrying other people’s shame because you know what? It’ll break your back before it will ever break their conscience. You’re still standing. Rise. Don’t keep repeating other people’s lack of conscience or self-awareness by giving you a hard time for what they’ve done.

Grieving is a journey and it’s definitely not linear but let it flow.

It devastated me when my father and his family clanned up and closed me out over them not liking choices about my wedding. When I acknowledged it, the hurt erupted out of me but you know what? Within a couple of months it had ebbed. During that time, the hurt was intense initially and then it would flare up and then it settled. Don’t hold back your feelings, talk about it with friends, family members unconnected with the TFM or who certainly are trustworthy, or a professional – the latter can be an added support source that’s also impartial and very practical. Speak to non-family for sure though because it opens your eyes to the real world.

You’ve got to feel the anger and any other emotions first before you can truly be in a zone where you can truly begin to move on from things or start seeing ‘blessings’ so if you’ve been holding back, let it out.

Journal and write as many Unsent Letters as possible.

This will help you to remain in touch with and to take care of you and your feelings plus it will help you to uncover the real sources of hurt and anger so that not only can you give you whatever is needed (if you feel unsupported, you know that you need to support you, if you feel unheard, where are you not hearing you or looking for validation) but it also means that if and when you do broach the subject of your hurt and the issue, that you are coming from a very different level of awareness that allows you to communicate with love, care, trust and respect because you are coming from a place of congruency, compassion, clarity, ownership and grace, the five landmarks of boundaried communication. Keep doing the Releasing Exercise whenever you feel triggered.

Don’t focus on trying to forgive the person.

This ties back into accepting what you know. One of the mistakes that so many people make about forgiveness is burning up brain energy and emotional wattage due to feeling obliged to forgive or to spend their time looking for the right set of thoughts that will act as Open Sesame for the proverbial forgiveness door. You’re not under obligation. And don’t let them pressure you. Take your time and if you say it, mean it and give it wholeheartedly without any fixed expectation of what you want back. Yes, don’t wallow but don’t make healing being about trying to make the other person feel OK. It is OK to need time and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially family.

If your mental, emotional and physical health has taken a bit of a battering, get in to self-care.

Therapy, counselling, yoga, pilates, alternative therapies (depending on whether it’s what you’re into), meditation, plenty of exercise, regular eating, sleep, spending time with other family or with friends, trying new things, focusing on what you need and want in your life, affirmations, spending time with you, being out in nature, and doing the things that bring up good, loving feelings, all make a huge difference.

Journal PromptJOURNALING: Have you felt pressure to forgive whether it was inwardly or outwardly? Can you see how harmful this is? What are you willing to forgive you for now? What can you do to help you to heal any hurt feelings from this TFM situation? What are you going to do when thoughts pop up? Instead of chasing after them, how can you positively support you with some gentle rationale? Maybe keep a list of some key reminders.

taskTASK: Been holding back on Unsent Letters?

This is the time to start writing it. Seriously. So many people avoid them as they’re afraid of what will come out and then they finally begin writing and wonder what took them so long. Want to feel freer? Get writing!