My family is visiting for two weeks here in Bozeman over the holidays. It’s wonderful to have them here, and truly a gift given that in August of this year, it was thought that Mom had cancer. But it turns out it was just a very large benign tumor, so here we are celebrating life and family connection. BUT, it amazes me how being around family brings out my insecure inner child. I revert to being a screaming 10 year old!
All this work on myself, and I spend 5 minutes with family and it all seems to be lost, gone, out the window, ciao, au revoir, “Where did it go? I thought I was past the reactions, the impatience, the frustration, the insecurities!” But no, it rears it’s ugly head without warning, like an unwelcome monster entering the room. Did that just come out of my mouth? Really? That was so passive/aggresive! “OK breathe.” I tell myself, “You want to be different.”
Our family can be our greatest teacher. They love you no matter what you do (well, most will!), which gives us liberty to be a jerk, and get away with it, staying in our reactive patterns, and we know each others buttons, and how to push them well. And if you are anything like my family, we all have the same way of communicating, which leads to not communicating (We’re all really good at being passive/aggressive!). It would be one thing to have a multitude of communication styles, but when it’s all the same, it creates even more reactions!
So is there hope? Yes, at least I’d like to think so! The difference now is that I am aware in my reactions. And they may still come out of my mouth, but I have the choice to continue with it, or stop, breathe, and step back. That’s the difference. The buttons may still get pushed, but it’s whether we act on the reaction that comes up. I’ve found that may reactive button is still there, but has gotten squishy.
And it’s not that my family is doing anything wrong. Their intentions are good. It’s my old reactive patterns, and taking responsibility for them is where I am empowered, not by blaming them for something they say or do. It is my choice to have awareness of my actions, and my choice of stopping my old ineffective behavior patterns. How liberating!
So this holiday season, when you find yourself frustrated, irritable, impatient, angry, or jealous with your family, remember that they love you and always will, and your reactive buttons are yours alone – you can choose to be aware of when the button gets pushed. Stop, take a deep breath, and choose who you want to be in that moment: old behavior patterns of the ego, or a step into the authenticity of your heart. Enjoy the holidays with your family, friends, and you – give yourself a gift on this holiday, the gift of love and compassion towards yourself for being human! Happy Holidays!
Categories: Conflict & Forgiveness