I am sure some of you have been scratching your head and wondering what the last two posts have had to do with simplifying your life. When I started writing about family I thought that I would be able to explain it in one or two posts. Surprise! It is going to take a total of five.
Simplify your blood family
In the last two posts we talked about our blood families. We first talked about the idea of functional and nonfunctional families. Then we learned about the need to examine our family. If you have not read those posts please do so. Reading them is pretty much a prerequisite for understanding this post.
Today we will look at a strategy for dealing with the results of our examination of our family. This strategy is used when we need to get out of a non-supportive relationship.
We are accepted
As in all of our relationships we generally have different relationships with the different members of our blood family. Some will totally accept us for who we are. These are good relationships that we should attempt to maintain and nurture. We need to accept these family members unconditionally in the same way they accept us.
When acceptance is conditional
Other family members will want to put conditions on their acceptance of us. These relationships can be summarized with the phrase “if you were really my daughter and loved me you would call me more often.” Substitute “daughter” for whatever relationship is appropriate for you. Substitute “call me more often” for any behavior that fits the relationship.
These relationships based on conditional acceptance are always painful for us. The base cause of the pain is that we are not being accepted for who we are. We usually do not see that. What we see is that someone is attempting to force us to do things that we do not want to do.
We don’t want to call our mother more often. We don’t want to play baseball but we do so because it will make dad happy. We don’t want to buy flowers for our sister’s birthday to prove to her that we love her. We want to express our acceptance in our own way, but they force us to do it their way. Then, if we do express our acceptance and caring in our own way, they conclude that we do not love them and blame us for hurting them.
You can see where this kind of relationship goes. Over time we are more and more constricted in our behavior towards this relative. We become more and more unhappy but do not want to hurt them. This is how nonfunctional families perpetuate themselves.
The separation strategy
The first strategy that we will look at is the separation strategy. This is the more drastic and more final solution. The way this strategy works is that we commit to attempting to explain to the relative who is placing conditions on their acceptance of us that they are limiting us.
If at all possible we should avoid talking about how we are being hurt by them. There are two reasons for this. The first goes back to the idea that only the false self can be hurt. When we talk about being hurt then we are exhibiting false self behavior.
The second reason that we do not talk about being hurt is that our relative will frequently respond by telling us how much we are hurting them. “You think I hurt you? Let me tell you how much you hurt me!” This conversation rarely is progressive or has a happy ending.
In the separation strategy we talk to our relative about how a relationship is limited when we accept someone only if they pass certain conditions. We talk about how when we are more open with our acceptance we can more truly understand and like each other.
We also make a long term commitment to taking whatever time is required to make sure we have tried every possible way to explain ourselves to this relative. What we are really doing is telling them that we cannot continue our relationship with them if they continue to put conditions on their acceptance of us. Usually we do not actually say this to our restricting relative. This is viewed as an ultimatum and detracts from the discussion.
We know that the relationship is too painful for us to continue unchanged. We take whatever time we can devote and have as many discussions as we can before we choose to separate ourselves from the overly restricting relative.
As we separate ourselves we acknowledge to ourselves that we have done everything we can to explain our desire to build a healthy relationship with our relative. We accept that at this time this relative is more interested in their false self behavior than in building a healthy relationship with us. We accept them for where they are right now and vow to revisit the relationship whenever we think there might be an opening for us to continue our discussions about acceptance.
This can be very devastating to us when we determine that we must go forward with our lives. We have to recognize that we did everything that we could to help our non-supportive relative to understand why we had to break off the relationship. We have to understand that if they were coming from their true self then they would have no problem with the break up. The fact that we had to temporarily break the relationship means that we could no longer allow their false self behavior to control what our true self needs to do.
All this can be very difficult to sort through while we are in the middle of it. These are very emotionally charged situations. This is precisely why we need to be training false self to listen to true self. True self understands the importance of each of our relationships and is always able to determine which we need to maintain and which we need to suspend. By listening to true self we can simplify our family relationships.
How is this simplifying our life?
Think about how much time and emotional energy we expend on our blood family relationships. How much of that is in the mutually accepting and supportive category? How much is in the dealing with conditional acceptance category?
Most of us spend a lot of time and emotional energy dealing with the conditional acceptance placed on us by our blood family. Should we not turn this around and be spending more time and energy on the mutually accepting and supportive relationships?
By recognizing the non-supportive relationships we are simplifying our lives. True self is determining to relate more frequently with those in our family who support us. These supportive relationships rejuvenate us. The non-supportive relationships only drain us.
We simplify our lives by first understanding the nature of our blood family relationships. Next we learn to choose for the supportive relationships because they are beneficial to us and help us to simplify our lives. No unnecessary time or energy is wasted on them.
That is all for today. Tomorrow we will look at another strategy. That one is called the “accept but cauterize” strategy.
Until tomorrow –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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