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Newsletter Dated: 6/8/2010 10:46:31 AM
Subject: Happiness Tips from Tina: Creating Family Acceptance
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Happiness Tip: Creating Family Acceptance
Lately, Iíve gotten so many anguished questions from people who are being criticized and rejected by family for making relationship choices the families donít like, usually for cultural or religious reasons, that I changed my mind about what I was going to write this month.
If your choice of a partner, lifestyle, religion or place to live has received a lot of criticism and threats of rejection from your family, you are probably experiencing pain and confusion. Families do this because they donít accept that youíre an adult, free to make your own choices, good or bad, and they assume your choices will either be bad for you or a negative reflection on them. Otherwise loving and caring parents can become surprisingly cruel and heartless in these situations, because they are afraid -- and they turn that fear into anger. It may not be possible to get them to approve of your decision, but if you get them to think of you as an independent adult, they may be able to accept it with a little more grace.
If youíre an adult, and in college, working, or married, itís time to grow up and move on from your family and your childhood. While itís lovely to be close to your family if you have a good relationship with them, it is also time to build a life of your own, and the sooner you begin, the quicker you will become well- established. Itís a big change when you first leave home to think of yourself as being in charge of your life. ďIím 31 years old,Ē said a client ďand I still feel as if someone else is running my life.Ē That is not a good place to be.
The key is to decide that you, and only you are in charge of what you do from this day on. You can discuss your life issues with your parents, siblings, spouse and friends, and make use of their experience and differing view points; but in the end, you are the one who must make the decisions about what to do. Even if you manage to allow someone else to make the decisions for you, you will have to live with the consequences of those decisions.
To change your relationship with your family from that of a dependent child to a fully respected adult, you must first change the way you think of yourself in relationship to your family. In other words, to stop being treated as you were when you were a child, you must stop behaving the way you did as a child. If you treat the others in your family as ďfellow adultsĒ, youíre more likely to get treated like one yourself. The ways your family interact are just habits, and they can change. Following are some guidelines:
Guidelines for Growing up within your Family
1. Call your parents ďMother and FatherĒ or ďMom and DadĒ, instead of childlike names such as Mommy, Daddy, Poppy, etc. It will make you think differently about your interaction.
2. Change your conversation to be more like the conversations you have with friends. Donít limit it strictly to family memories, or gossip about family members, or questions about your personal life. Before you speak with family members, take a minute to think of what ďadultĒ topics youíd like to talk about. Current events, sports, work issues (just facts and events -- avoid complaining) political or local neighborhood issues are all adult topics.
3. If you have children of your own, share with your parents on a parent -to parent basis.
4. Donít react if your parent does or says something annoying. Just ignore it, and change the subject.
5. Donít ask your parents for advice ó try offering your own expertise instead ó but offer it as you would to a friend. Donít push.
6. Pay attention to the balance of your interaction. Donít let your role slide into all giving or all receiving, try to keep the score even, as you probably do with your friends.
7. In general, treat your parents and siblings as if they were the family of someone you care about, and not your own. After all, if you were with a friendís family, and someone did something odd, youíd just ignore it, and you wouldnít let yourself be drawn into family squabbles. Youíd just be polite and pleasant, for your friendís sake.
After following these guidelines for a few months, your interactions with your family will change, so that you can relax and just be your adult self. Youíll find that families are more fun after you leave your old childhood behavior patterns and emotional leftovers behind.
Problems with a family members may not emerge until you do something independent, and may catch you by surprise, but if you can learn to respond thoughtfully, rather than react emotionally, youíll handle the issue better, and gain respect from the other person.
Many valuable gifts come through overcoming negative reactions, and learning to view others as reflections of ourselves Ė useful mirrors. The following exercise will help you step back and look at others as a source of information about yourself, view people from a different angle and use the very people who upset you as a reflection of the internal dynamics behind your struggles.
Exercise: mirrors and teachers
1. List problem people: Make a list of people with whom you are having problems.
2. Choose a mirror: Select one of the most difficult people on the list, and think about your interaction with that person. What do you want from him or her? Do you want to be understood? To be respected? To be left alone? To be appreciated? To be cared about?
3. Relate it to yourself: Now consider how to give to yourself what you want from the other person. If you want to be left alone, do you leave yourself alone? If you want to be trusted, do you trust yourself? If you want to be heard, do you listen to your own self? If you want to be important, are you important to you?
4. Change your self-treatment: Practice treating yourself the way you would want to be treated by the person in question. For example, if you are angry because this person doesnít treat you with respect, consider what it would mean to treat yourself with respect, and change your behavior toward yourself accordingly. If youíre upset because the person doesnít listen to you, spend some time every day listening to yourself.
5. Learn new skills: Think about the dynamics between the difficult person and yourself, and what you need to learn that would improve the relationship. Perhaps you need to learn not to take what is said too seriously. Perhaps you need to learn to set boundaries, or to handle other peoplesí anger more effectively. Make a list of new skills you could learn that would improve your ability to deal better with this type of individual. On you list, note where you think you could learn the skills you need. From a friend? With a therapist? From books?
6. Do your part: Take responsibility for your part of the relationship. Keeping in mind that no one can struggle with you if you donít struggle back, consider what you need to do to remove yourself from the relationship problem. Remember, no matter whatís going on, you have control over your own actions Ė you can choose not to participate in any situation that is destructive or counter-productive. (From It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction and The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before 40 (HCI)
© Tina B.Tessina, 2010
If you want more, here are some related articles you can download from my website at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html
Attitude: From Negative to Gratitude
The Colors of You
The Courage to Hope
Detox Your Life
Four Steps to Success
Getting Out of Your Way
How to Stretch Time
Intuition or Inner Knowing
Kindness and Happiness
Learn to See Through The Eyes of Love
The Meaning of Life
The Nail in the Fence: Healing Wounds
No Two Miracles Alike
Patterns of Change
The Power of Purpose
Resolving Inner Anarchy
True Beauty: Honor the God or Goddess in You
Turning Poison Into Medicine
Weaving The Web
Winning The War Within
Year of Peace
You Are a Gift
Your Heartís Desire
Your Job on Earth
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Wishing you joy,
Tina B. Tessina, PhD
Re: Lighten Up: Co
I hope you are going good. Love keeping up on your life and stuff. xoxoxoxoxoxo. Talk soon,
Back at you, Tod.
Great newsletter as always. Always great hearing from you. Thanks for everything in the past.
Thanks, Tom - glad youíre doing well.
I'm sure fans of Oprah Winfrey find you interesting. Brad.
Thanks, Brad. I hope you do, too.
Hey Tina just love your newsletters as always. I realize I am truly learning the lessons all over, myself. Blessing come when you least expect them. Be open to everything and everything comes to you. With Love and Blessings, Greg
So true, Greg. Love and Blessings back to you.
Dear Tina, I admire your writing,in simple words you find all the solutions in life. Keep sending the Newsletter. Kind regards Henry
Thank you, Henry. Iíll keep it coming.
thank u so much Tina, i really appreciate your mail. xoxoxoCookie
Thanks, Cookie Ė I love your support.
Hello Tina, I still read all of your newsletters. I especially liked the last one about happiness and drawing them in. I visited Roscoe recently and noticed the train car and the museum. It's a nice little village. Hugs to you. Madelyn
Hi, Madelyn: Glad you liked it, and thanks for writing. Yes, Roscoe, my old home town, is a pretty place.