Louise Thompson: More relative harmony
YOU teach other people how to treat you, and you are allowed to update that treatment from 1985.
One of the core principles I work with my clients on is “what you allow is what you endorse”. Essentially we teach people how to treat us. We educate others in what is acceptable to us by the way we lay out our expectations and the way we react to their behaviour around us.
Strengthening our boundaries is the way we keep good stuff in and bad stuff out. It’s that simple, and in adult life we are generally pretty okay at it. When it comes to family though, well that can be a whole different kettle of fush and chups.
If we have been allowing a certain behaviour since childhood, for example, when we had minimal say in the matter, it can be much harder to assert a new boundary as an adult of “it’s not okay to speak to me like that”. But it can be done.
You are allowed to expect different standards of behaviour for yourself and your life than you did in 1985. And you are allowed to update that standard and bring it into 2017.
It’s possible to be able to firmly state “It’s not okay to talk to me like that,” and reiterate it with consistency to the point it becomes the new standard. I would pick your battles here though: some are so small and you may see your family so infrequently, it might not be worth the drama.
But for the big things, if it needs an update; be firm, don’t whine, don’t argue. Just state what you need and expect, spell out the consequences and follow through if need be. You are a grown up: you are allowed.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
And most of the Christmas stuff is small stuff isn’t it? The detail of it all. That’s what causes most of the arguments and overwhelm: the myriad tiny details and expectations of ourselves and others. Being able to stop, step back and gain some perspective is key.
The big picture is that, however annoying someone might be being in the moment — and as we said last week, no one pushes buttons so effectively as family! — we actually love them.
The big picture is we love them very much. That for every family member tearing their hair out about the way Dad insists on making such an all-encompassing performance about the turkey or Aunty Pat’s penchant for un-PC jokes after too many cherry brandies, there is someone silently weeping because they do not get to spend that time with those they love or loved.
The big picture is that the small stuff is not worth sweating, and Christmas is something you feel, not something you do. The details only matter if we let them. The big picture is really where it’s at.
I do hope you are spending your festive season with people you care about, who hold you in their warm embrace.
I wish you all the most fabulous Christmastime, thank you for being along for the ride this year, and I can’t wait for more in 2018!
Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing