Coaching Tips from Life Coach Beth Veenkamp
What I am hearing a lot of in my client sessions lately are stories about families – how families act when they all get together for big events like the Christmas, vacations and reunions. I also hear accounts of daily thoughts and feelings about family – like dinner hour phone calls from his dad, or dropping everything to rescue your brother, or guilt about how much you have been visiting Grandma. All of things have the ability to cause stress, miscommunication, and frustration.
How much does your extended family impact your family?
Family is important. We want to spend time together, and be together. We want to create precious memories, so we create occasions to do so, and then we COMPLAIN about it all! There is no denying; there is nothing like getting together with the “fam” to send people into a tail spin of negative thinking and self defeating behaviours.
Dealing with extended family can be tough! Here are three things to keep in mind when you think about your family.
1) Who do you include in your list of family?
My four year old Ava made and interesting remark the other day, she said to my Mom, “Grandma, you are not in my family, you don’t live in my house!”
If your immediate though when thinking about family included your father and his mother or his brother living in your basement, ask yourself who really is IN your family. Use this as an opportunity to see how much influence your extended family has on you and the decisions you make.
When you’ve got an INSIDE family decision to make…
Ask Yourself: Who am I making this decision with? If you find that your answer is someone other than your spouse, this is an opportunity to reflect on how much influence OUTSIDE factors have on your INSIDE family life. Some might discover that they are attached to too many outside family sources when it comes to decision making and planning. This can cause friction.
2) Celebrate! When you can identify and know where you are attached, you get to work on doing the most liberating thing you can ever do…..DETACH. Usually family frustrations stem from being attached. Whether it is you or your spouse that has the attachment, just being able to identify it can take some of the pressure away. This is particularly true when dealing with in-laws. If you can see how and why your spouse “always agrees with his mother”, you can do the work necessary to detangle yourself from that frustration. When practicing detachment…
Do I need to respond to this?
Am I trying to defend myself by responding?
Is this really about me?
3) Know that the work of OUTSIDE family life can be difficult to navigate. Know and accept that the people in your OUTSIDE family life have just as many attachments to the people within your INSIDE family as you do. For example your husband is your mother in law’s SON. When people are attached they work really hard to get their way because the connection is so powerful. When you catch yourself feeling very attached, be willing to step outside the situation and look with love at where the other person is at. People usually act out because they have a need they are desperate to get met. When you are open enough to see the big picture of your family tree of attachments, you can make better choices on how to navigate it.
The urge to avoid dealing with the family dynamics that are getting you down and killing your joy at special occasions is not serving you. The truth is that these are the people that you get to spend the rest of your life with. When you choose your spouse, both of you got to take on all of the attachments of the other person. Your willingness to work on these relationships in an empowered way is the difference between you being happy living in angst and misery.
What do you need to work on detaching from?