Have your relationships begun to feel like a house divided? It seems clear that right now our nation is divided. I have heard many people express how hard it is to work, get together with family and friends or even go shopping without someone taking a strong point of view of even attacking them. And then there is social media where the gloves seem to be off. I was shocked (but I guess I shouldn’t have been) when a private closed international Facebook group specifically devoted to sailing erupted today along lines that were both political and sexual. I wondered what happened to the sailing discussions.
Perhaps that is what many of you are asking yourself. What happened to a friendly conversation while waiting in line to checkout at the grocery store? What happened to our social gatherings with friends and family? People are ending life-long relationships with friends and refusing to be with family. What happened to respect and civility?
I don’t have the answer to what happened, but I have some steps you can take to put your divided house back together.
- Remember you are powerless to change what other adults say or do. Adults get to say and do whatever they want. Give up trying to change others.
- Remember that what other adults say and do is not a reflection on you, it is a reflection on them.
- Ask yourself: Why do I need them to agree with me or believe me? What purpose will it serve? Is it worth it?
- Give yourself and the other person permission to agree to disagree.
- Ask yourself: How can I move this relationship back to common ground and common interests?
- Give yourself permission to set boundaries with relationships that become unhealthy. Boundaries don’t have to be verbalized to the other person. They are something you simply choose to act on. Boundaries are something your do or don’t do. They are not something you demand others do or don’t do. Example: I lock my doors. If you break into my house I will call the police. I don’t need to stand on the sidewalk and yell “You better not break into my house or I will call the police.” It is simply what I know I will do.
- List all the things you like, love, value about the other person and focus on those things instead of the things that divide you.
- Show everyone love and respect, even if they don’t show love and respect to you.
Here is an example of how these steps work:
I spent 18 years estranged from my birth mother and a long time angry at my brother because they chose to believe my step-father who sexually abused me, rather than believing me. Even after my step-father died I found it impossible to have a relationship with my mom. Then one day, after lots of therapy and coaching, I realized having others believe me or not believe me didn’t make any difference, because I KNEW what the truth was. I called my mom and asked her if she would be open to leaving the past in the past and working on having a relationship with me. I told her I was choosing to believe what I felt was true about the abuse AND I knew she needed to believe what she felt was true. She sobbed and said the restoration of our relationship was the best gift she could have received. Now we talk weekly and see each other regularly. We talk about gardening, cooking, our ancestors, the grandkids/great-grandkids. We don’t talk about my abuse. It is a beautiful thing. It is unconditional love in action. It is the same thing with my brother. I also used the same work to restore a relationship with my ex-husband and his wife. Now we have a loving relationship where the son of my ex and I can enjoy his whole family in love and without conflict.
You might be shaking your head right now. You might be thinking I am living in a world of rose- colored glasses and that I am not in touch with reality. That’s ok. However, consider this: I know that choosing love, respect and common ground with my mom, my brother and my ex-husband freed me. It freed me from my own bitterness. It allowed me to leave a painful past in the past where it belongs. It allowed me to create the life I really wanted. I am happy and at peace. That’s how it can be for you too.
This process takes work. It isn’t just as simple as acting like painful things didn’t happen to you. In fact, I don’t want you to pretend that painful things didn’t happen to you. So, if you would like help with this, schedule a free complimentary coaching session with me at: www.CindysCalendar.com