When it comes to visiting family, who you are can sometimes regress into the child they remember you as instead of the fully capable adult that you are now.
How do you know this is happening? When you’re afraid to be yourself around them, it’s happening.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” –Richard Bach
How do you feel when you read that? The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.
In another post, I talked about relationships and how one of the greatest gifts you could give to a loved one is to do what you can to help them reach happiness; Finding ways to support them that move them toward a happier life.
When you are too busy defending yourself around them, this will never happen. After all, it’s hard to focus on helping someone else reach their happiness when you are caught up in your own turmoil and misery. Especially when the other person is the source of that turmoil and misery.
But it’s good to remember that when someone is a source of turmoil and misery, they are simply trying to fulfill a need. Like I said in my book, How To Deal With Irrational People, whenever someone is getting angry or upset, there is a need in them that is currently unfulfilled, and they are behaving irrational because they want to fulfill it.
When you can find out what need that is, you can actually help them achieve a calmer state. That doesn’t mean you accept the bad behavior of others, but it can make your life a lot easier when you are aware of what need isn’t being fulfilled.
Working for someone else is a great example of this. If you’ve got a demanding or mean boss, find out what need they are trying to fulfill and see if you can fulfill it! If you are able to resolve something that bothers them, you are going to make their life a lot easier, which makes your life easier.
It’s not your responsibility to fulfill other people’s needs, but if you’re affected by them, then you can see how there might be an advantage by helping them become happier.
When it comes to family, most of us have at least one or more family members that we either don’t get along with as well as the rest of the family, or simply can’t stand to be around at all. On top of that, our families tend to think that we are the same person we’ve always been since we were children.
Important: If you’ve discovered that you’re hurtful to someone you care about and you’d like to change that about yourself, sign up for the life-changing Healed Being program over at healedbeing.com).
If you are currently in a relationship with family or someone else who can’t seem to stop hurting you, listen to my podcast Love and Abuse to help you navigate through the difficulties.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve done a lot of personal growth for the past 20 or so years, so if my family expects to see the person I was at 20, they might be very surprised.
Fortunately, most of my family has accepted this new person I’ve become. Actually, one person found out who I am today the hard way when I had to tell him to leave.
My stepfather showed up at the door of my mom’s house and asked to see the dog. He was really there to see my mom, whom he’d abused for years with his alcoholism and bad behavior.
Seeing him at the door after all this time was a moment of decision for me:
Do I become the child I’ve always been around him and just let him do what he wants? Or do I act as the adult I now am, able to hold my own and stand up for what I know is right?
I chose the latter. I chose to tell him that “She doesn’t want to see you”. Instead of saying, “Oh, uh, let me go get her” which would have been a way for me to avoid the situation and let my mom deal with him, I chose to stand up as the man I am now.
It was hard. In fact, it was very hard, because we always tend to become the person we were around family. And if you ever had a problem with any member of your family or they’ve mistreated you in some way, it’s hard to break the cycle of that mistreatment and become a person they’ve never seen.
You can be who you are now, or regress into who you were then.
The question is who are you now?
Richard Bach says, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”
Blood does not give one the right to mistreat you.
Blood does not give one the right to abuse you.
Family is defined by the level of respect you give and get, and the amount of joy and happiness that you can have with each other.
If you are being mistreated or abused by family, then they are really not your family, at least by the definition I give in this article.
Family won’t cause you misery, they want you to be happy.
Family won’t purposefully cause you pain, they will protect you.
These are important concepts to learn because when you keep giving family members a break because they are family, it’s like telling yourself that “I deserve to be mistreated.”
You may not have family that mistreats you. And if that’s the case, enjoy them! But if you are being mistreated in some way by your family, it’s time to become who you are instead of who you’ve always been around them. You don’t need to take criticisms and put-downs because you’ve earned respect and love.
In a moment, we’ll talk about how to become who you are and not who you were when family is involved. There are certain characteristics that you’ll need in order to stay the new person you’ve become.
If you’ve got a family that still treats you the same as when you were young and you don’t appreciate it, stick around. We have a lot to talk about.
The family curse: Why you become who you used to be when you’re around family. Whether you’ve just learned how to be confident and outgoing, or you’ve been working on your personal growth and development for years, as soon as you’re with family, you can revert to that old self in seconds.
But why? What’s stopping you from being the person you want to be around people you call your family?
I mean, I can understand some hesitation when you’ve had an abusive family member. In those cases, you don’t even want to be near them. But what about those who just know you as the person you’ve always been to them, and they don’t realize the changes you’ve gone through?
If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, there’s a good chance you’ve gone through some changes. But, have you been able to test this “new you” in front of family? Have they been witnesses to your new place in life?
Or, when you’re around them, do you become who they’ve always known you to be?
I had a friend from high school reach out to me recently and found it kind of awkward to have a conversation with him. I’ve gone through a lot of healing and growth, and when we knew each other 25 years ago, I was a different person.
I was a lot less mature and a lot more fearful of things in the world. But 25 years of learning and growing changed that. I became more mature, in some areas but not all, and less fearful in most areas.
I also developed a different sense of humor and different tastes. I learned to try new things and learn new skills. I’ve become a different person for the most part, which is why it’s strange for me to connect with an old friend from high school.
They only remember me as the person I was, not the one I’ve become.
Sure, we have memories and can laugh about the past, but if he hasn’t grown and evolved and is still the same kid I always knew, how can the conversation continue? At least, in a way where we are both getting value and enjoyment from it?
I can still enjoy conversations with him, but I do notice that I tend to back off a little when the subject is just not as interesting as it once was when we were kids.
But, that’s all my friend remembers me as: That jokey, immature kid who still laughs at toilet humor.
But that’s not who I am anymore. I still have a sense of humor, but it’s changed. I still like talking about women, but not in the same way. I still like to talk about what pushes my buttons or my favorite movies, but just not in the same way as I once did.
What has happened between me and my high school friend is that we rarely speak now. Though, I’m willing to give the relationship a chance to blossom showing him the person I’ve become. But there is a part of me that will be uncomfortable hanging out and talking as if we never graduated high school.
I don’t know, perhaps I’m being a bit of a snob. But when we talk about things that I don’t value or are even against my values now, I do get uncomfortable.
Have you ever reconnected with someone and found out that one of you has changed and the other hasn’t? And at least one of you is uncomfortable because you’re simply not the same person you once were?
With my friend, I’ll probably enjoy some of our conversations, but maybe I won’t think his jokes are funny anymore and he’ll find me weird.
Maybe I won’t be able to relate to how he talks about women and he’ll think I’ve gotten too square or conservative.
And who knows, maybe I have! But the point is, can I be comfortable being myself around him?
Can I be comfortable being myself around anyone, including friends and family?
That’s the challenge. It’s challenging to be the new person you are when people from your past only know you as the person you were. And because they don’t know how you’ve transformed or changed, their old behavior towards you tends to come out.
After all, it’s easier to be who you always were around people. So they are being who they were too!
It’s just that sometimes, you aren’t in the same place anymore. Or, maybe they’re not in the same place and they have gone through a lot more learning, healing, and growing and they feel awkward with you!
Regardless of the situation, I want to help you become more comfortable being yourself, so today we’re going to talk about what it takes to be the real you around those who don’t know the real you.
This article is mostly for those who don’t feel comfortable around old friends and family. If you already get along great with all your old friends and family, you probably don’t need to listen.
However, if when you visit people from your past and they are still treating you as if you are the same person you always were, and you just can’t resonate with that anymore, keep listening!
Who are you when you are around friends or family that have known you most or all of your life?
If you were always shy and subservient as a child but grew out of that as an adult, are you still shy and subservient when you’re around family?
If you were fearful around certain people in the past, but have grown and evolved since then, do you still revert back to a fearful state when you are around them now?
Let’s talk about the first thing you want to do when you are put in this situation. When you are with someone from your past and you find that you might fall back into your old patterns and behaviors, ask yourself this question:
Am I going to be who I am today, or who I was then?
Think about that for a moment. Do you choose to regress into that younger you and behave and respond as if you never grew and evolved, or do behave and respond just as you would had this been anyone else other than family?
This is a crucial first step, and it’s important to get the answer before doing or saying anything. You can get it pretty quick if you’re open to it.
Are you going to be who you are today, or who you were then?
Let’s say you’re in front of an old family member or friend, and you have a chance to be who you were or who you are.
If you haven’t changed at all since childhood, then there’s no dilemma! But we all change just a little bit, especially if years have gone by.
If you choose to be who they have always known you to be, will you be happy about that? If not, then why would you choose to be your old self?
The reason many regress to a younger self is because of conditioning and old beliefs.
We’ve been conditioned over the years to behave a certain way around certain people. We got used to the relationship how it was and we got comfortable behaving and responding in the way we did.
When my friend contacted me 25 years after high school, he talked to me as if we never parted and were still best friends.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some of the best friendships are those that can be picked up years later without missing a beat.
However, when you realize that there was a part of you that you no longer embrace because you’ve grown and evolved in some way, you may not relate to friends from your past the way you once did.
I know a woman who met an old friend from high school and found out that she didn’t change a thing about herself. She was still drinking and taking drugs, still listened to the same music, and followed the same groups.
It was kind of a shock to her because after attending college, purchasing a house, being married, and having a child, my friend. sort of expected her old school friend to have had a similar life.
But there was essentially no change in this girl, so she could not relate to her old friend in any way.
“What have you been up to?”
“Oh you know, same stuff, different day!”
“Wow! Alright then, great to see you.”
It’s not that it’s wrong or bad to stay the same, but it could be hard to relate to some people you used to know if you’ve gone on to do different things with your life and they still play the same records over and over again, metaphorically speaking.
Besides conditioning, our old beliefs cause us to regress to a younger version of ourselves too. If you still believe that your parents know best, even if you’re 40 years old, you may be running on an old belief system.
Of course, they may know best, or they may not. But as an adult, you can make your own decisions and take your own steps towards creating the life you want because you have the wisdom of your own experience.
Plus, sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decisions, but that’s a good thing because you learn how to make the right decisions by being wrong.
Experience brings wisdom.
And wisdom is what you bring with you into every conversation and transaction you have with friends and family. Your unique wisdom is one thing you can own and embrace because it is the culmination of your experiences in life.
And because you are the only person with your experiences, you are worthy and deserve to be honored as the person you are today.
So let’s get into this a little deeper. Who are you when you’re with family? Do you bring your uniqueness to gatherings, or do you leave it behind so that your family will be more comfortable treating you as they always have?
It feels like a curse, at least it used to feel that way for me. It feels like a burden having to pretend to be the person you were around people who’ve known you to be only who you’ve been the entire time they’ve known you.
For me, my stepfather knew me as the submissive, peacekeeper up until I was about 20. I was always doing what I could to make sure family conversations didn’t turn into family massacres.
At 20, I moved away from home and stayed away for about 24 years, visiting when I got a chance. It was an opportunity to figure out who I was without the influence of my family.
And that’s step one to being who you are and not who you were around family, it’s to:
Find out who you are without their influence.
In order to do that, you need to get away. Whether it’s taking a day out of town or a week’s vacation at a tropical resort. In order to be who you are now around family, you need to figure out who you are!
That makes sense, but you won’t know who you are for sure until you are not with people who know you well.
Your thoughts are always influenced by those around you. Always. Unless you have no compassion or empathy for anyone, then you’re just going to be who you are no matter what because you won’t care what other people think.
But, caring about what people think is exactly why you’re influenced.
When you are about to make a decision, there’s a lot happening in your brain.
You’re thinking about how you’re going to go about it, what you need to do, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what tools you will need.
There are even deeper processes running in the background too. Subconsciously, you are weighing your decisions against your morals, values, and ethics. You may even be accessing your beliefs and wondering if what you’re going to decide is something you believe in.
Again, there are conscious and unconscious processes going on, and one of those unconscious processes is the effect your decisions will have on other people.
I mean, sure, you will consider other people consciously in your thought process, but if certain people weren’t in your life, to begin with, you wouldn’t even be having half the thoughts you have now in the first place.
Let me clarify that a little bit because this is important: When other people are in your life, how you think changes.
Your thinking has to change because your brain considers all variables when making decisions, at least the ones it’s aware of. And sometimes people, one of those variables, have been in our life for a long time, which means the brain automatically, subconsciously, includes those people in our decision-making process.
Does that make sense?
So, when you live with your romantic partner, even the simple decision to go to the bathroom has subconscious ties that you may not even be aware of.
When you live alone, you probably keep the door to the bathroom open and make as much, ahem, noise as you want, right?
But when you live with someone else, you automatically close the door and perhaps are being a bit more cautious about the level of noise you allow yourself to make. You might even use that smell-good spray after you’re done just so there are no embarrassing odors, right?
Ha ha, the point is, this is just a tiny example of the thousands of decisions we make on a daily basis that are influenced by someone else in our life.
When almost every decision you make is influenced, you tend to lose sight of who you really are. I know that might sound bad, but it’s really just a fact of life. When you live around others, you are consciously and subconsciously including them in your stream of thoughts almost all the time.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… unless they are an unwelcome influence.
And this is where you need to learn to separate which thoughts are truly yours and which are influenced by others.
How do you really know?
For a day or a week or more. Just leave. Get away from those that influence you. Take some “me” time and find out what decisions you make while you’re gone.
And if you can’t leave, here’s the exercise I teach when I’m coaching people one on one:
Imagine you are in a new town and live in a house all by yourself. There’s no family close by and no immediate obligations. What would you do to kill a few hours?
The question I ask is a little different for everyone, as it depends on the context of our conversation, but that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
What would you do if no one that knew you well was around? What decisions would you make if so and so wasn’t in your life? Would you be making the same decisions? Different?
There’s no right or wrong answer. For example, if I didn’t have a girlfriend today, I might just go inline skating by myself, or even go watch a movie.
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make those same decisions with my girlfriend, it just means that’s how I think whether or not she’s in my life.
I used to travel for work. And during those days and sometimes even months I was gone, I had a lot of time to think and make decisions without the influence of the people in my life.
What happened is that I learned who I was. I got a chance to figure out how I think and what I think about when I am not considering the immediate needs of others.
When I returned from those trips, I was always happier. I always felt like I reconnected with myself again. It was a recharge for my system.
Also, being alone to be with my own thoughts gave me a chance to evaluate my life and the place I was in at the time. I always came back wanting to be with the one I love.
But that’s not always the case for some people. Sometimes, they’ll take a trip and realize that they don’t want to be with the person at home anymore.
This is exactly what my wife did when we were married. She left the state to reignite her passion for life and find a career she could love, and during that time, she realized what her thoughts were without my influence.
In other words, she got to know herself again and what she really wanted in life.
As hard as it was for me to hear that she didn’t want me back, it was also a gift. I wanted our marriage to last, but when I thought about it, I didn’t want to be married to someone who didn’t want me.
It hurt, I suffered, but I healed and moved on. Her gift to me was to be honest with herself and me and let us go so that we could start a new life faster.
There’s nothing worse than being with someone who isn’t happy being with you.
And the more you prolong a relationship like that, the less time you’ll have for anyone else that might want to be with you.
My mom spent 44 years with the wrong person. She never realized who she was until about a month and a half after he left her.
44 years! That’s a long time to not know yourself. And it took her a whole month and a half to reconnect with herself, and discover her own thoughts without his influence. She didn’t even realize she had thoughts that didn’t include him, because her brain automatically included him with every thought she had.
So the next time you have a decision or a thought, ask yourself, “Would I make a different decision if that person wasn’t in my life?”
It could be anyone that influences you, just pick a person. You could even go through a list of people.
You could ask, “Would I make a different decision if my mom wasn’t in my life?“ Or my dad, or uncle, or whatever…
And see where your mind takes you. You may get different answers, but you may not. And if you get different answers, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of those people, it just gives you an idea of how you think and who you are with those people in your life versus without those people in your life.
When you know yourself without the influence of others, you learn a lot. And once you know, create a reminder inside your head of who you are because you’re going to get a chance to choose to be that person when you are with family.
The question is, will you be that person, or will you be the person you were?
Let’s talk about the next step in being the person you are with family.
Your family will test you. They’re not actually testing you, but they can be challenging at times, especially when they don’t treat you as the mature, independent adult you’ve become.
So what do you do? You’ve learned who you are from the last segment, but now you’re with family and they are saying and doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.
I could say, “Just be yourself!” but that advice can be hard to follow sometimes. The reason is because of fear.
What is the reason you have when you choose not to be the real you around family?
What comes up for me, at least when I think about the hard time I used to have being myself in front of my stepfather, is that I still believed he was the boss.
And being the boss means that he can control me because I was always the subservient child around him. Not only that, he was an aggressive alcoholic, so I sort of feared for my life back then too.
But that means I’m bringing my beliefs as a child into my world as an adult.
And this leads to step two of being who you are and not who you were:
Be aware if you are responding as a child, or as an adult.
The “inner child” is who you were when you were a child, with your own beliefs, aspirations, and fears. When you find yourself regressing back to the person you used to be with your family, you are allowing your inner child to run your life.
If you don’t like the term, “inner child”, just think of it as old programming. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to call this old programming the inner child.
Imagine allowing a child to drive you to work, speak for you at gatherings, or even make your financial decisions? Frankly, this is what you are doing when you find it hard to be yourself in front of anyone, but especially your family.
Family that hasn’t seen us grow and evolve still may see us as the child we were. You even hear them say it, “Oh honey, you’ll always be my child no matter how old you get.”
Well if that doesn’t keep you from embracing the adult you are! I know, it’s an innocent, loving comment and isn’t meant to stop you from growing. So as long as you really aren’t that young child and are behaving like the adult you are now, it’s not a problem.
It becomes a problem when you are uncomfortable and they are expecting you to behave a certain way, probably because you’ve always behaved that way in the past.
After all, why would you act any differently than you always have?
The sad thing is that sometimes the child has to become the adult in a family situation because the adults didn’t learn and evolve as you did.
That’s probably a little harsh, but there are family members older than me that are still doing things as if they were young and reckless.
There’s a book called I’m OK, You’re OK that talks about and analyzes the “transactions”, which are basically moments of interaction, between people.
The methods aren’t talked about so much anymore, but in my opinion are still very valid today, at least as far as the three ego-states it says that we all behave from at different times.
The ego states are Child, Parent, and Adult.
When we behave as the Child, we respond to situations as if we were still children. For example, if you get yelled at you might get sad and cry, or perhaps you’d get angry and lash out.
A child’s behavior is more unconscious and raw. It comes from a place of pure emotion and is usually unfiltered.
However, when you are behaving as the Adult, you become aware of your emotions and your state and you take control of your responses in the world. When you are yelled at and you respond as an adult, you’re more likely to honor your personal boundaries and stand up for yourself without jumping into a reactive state.
You’re still reacting, but it is a conscious, controlled, and thought-out reaction. It is the mature and respectable approach, as opposed to the Child who is reacting from an unadulterated, more physical, and less logical place.
Then you have the Parent. When you react and respond to situations as the parent, you feel the need to control others or guide them so that they do what you want them to do. It’s how you learned to respond from your own parents or caretakers growing up.
Responding as the Child draws from our childhood fears and joys and our pain and pleasure, as if we were still that child today.
Responding as the Adult draws from our years of experience and personal growth and development. The Adult is us acting responsibly and reasonably in the world.
Responding as the Parent draws from our own exposure to the parental role models that brought us up.
There is a time for each one of these ego-states to come out because each one has a role within us.
You definitely want to be the parent to someone who needs guidance. You definitely want to be the child if you plan on enjoying a rollercoaster or a kid’s movie. And you definitely want to be an adult when you have to take care of yourself first and foremost.
I sometimes choose the one I want to be in a given situation. I don’t do it so consciously anymore because I’ve done it so much now, but it really has helped me get through a lot of situations in life.
When my stepfather arrived at my mom’s house unannounced and uninvited, in that instant I became both the parent and adult.
I was the parent for my mom, telling him that she didn’t want to see him. And I was the adult for me because I felt myself regressing into a childlike behavior of submission. After all, I’d submitted to him for the first 20 years of life, so that’s where I automatically go.
But having that moment to activate both the parent and adult in me, and keep the child away, I handled the situation with ease and elegance.
This is something you can try.
The next time you’re in a situation with someone where you feel like you’re going to regress into the child state of raw emotion or an unconscious reaction like being afraid, turn on the adult in you and see what happens.
You can do this.
I recently told a client that the best way to turn on the adult or parent inside of you is to pretend you see yourself about 20 feet away.
In fact, try this. Pretend you’re outside, and you see yourself sitting in a wheelchair about 20 feet away. That “you” over there is you as a child.
Now a van pulls up and someone opens the door. They are trying to coax that younger you into the van.
What would you do?
Would you cower in fear and let them take that person in the wheelchair? Or would you head right over and stop this from happening?
My guess is that you’d stop it right away. You might even get angry and become the parent that child needs to keep them safe.
This is a powerful exercise. If you remember that child is you, inside of you, and you feel yourself regressing to a younger age when you’re with family or friends, it’s time to activate that parent that’s there to take care of you and stand up for yourself.
It’s also time to activate that adult that can handle almost any situation, because your family and friends may look at you funny when you actually start honoring yourself.
It’s true, unfortunately. Most of them won’t say, “Hey, you’re finally honoring yourself! Good for you!” If your family says that, congratulations, you are hanging with some high-quality people.
Unfortunately, a lot of your family and friends may not understand this new you that is independent and worthy of respect, so they’re likely to say something like, “What’s wrong with you?”
But stay the adult for as long as you need, because the inner child needs that from you. Be the parent to yourself, and the adult that can take care of the situation you’re in.
I use the vision of you as a child in a wheelchair to help you create an image that is more powerful than you just standing there. I mean, most people would come to the aid of a child, but my guess is that there’s even more of a heartfelt compassion for those in need of a wheelchair which might bring out an even stronger parent in you.
I may be wrong, but the image works for me when I do it. If you were or are currently in a wheelchair and I’ve offended you, please forgive me – that wasn’t my intention.
The whole point of the exercise is to find a way to unlock that powerful resource inside you that can come out anytime you need it. If the wheelchair exercise doesn’t fire it up, use something else that would make you jump to your feet and help that child.
No matter what, remember that you, as the parent to yourself, are there to protect and nurture the child inside. So when you feel you are being belittled, put down, stomped on, or getting your boundaries violated, jump into that parent or adult state and take charge.
Let’s talk about the last step you can take so that you can stay away from the person you were and be the person you are (or are becoming), next.
This last step involves addressing your fear directly. The reason we regress to a younger state when we’re with our family is usually because we fear what might happen, or what they might do or say if we instead choose to be ourselves.
This fear is definitely brought on by some old programming. You might be carrying around an old program that tells you how to respond to individual people. And you learned this program a long time ago.
So just for fun, think about a time when you were with someone and you weren’t yourself. Think of a time when you wanted to be who you are now, but instead chose to be the person you used to be.
Now, ask yourself, “What is stopping me from being me right now?”
You might get a response, “Well, I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me”, or “I’m afraid they may not like me” or something similar.
Regardless of what you get, try this on:
“It’s important to me to be who I was because…”
And fill in the blank.
It’s more important to me to stay who I was because… What comes up for you?
Alright, here’s the next one:
“If they see how I’ve changed, they will…”
And fill in the blank again. If they see how you’ve changed, they will what?
“It’s better to sink into the person I used to be instead of honor the path I’m on now because…”
How’s that one hit you?
Want more? You can press pause anytime to think about these. Here’s another one:
“I prefer that you still have control over me, so I won’t show you how much I’ve grown and evolved over the years.”
Ouch! I know. But if you can get the underlying message here, you might just automatically be the person you are instead of even having to think about it next time.
Here’s the last one, and I won’t pummel you anymore:
“I really enjoy our relationship the way it is and want nothing to change, so I promise never to show you the amazing person I’ve become.”
Okay, I’ll give you a break now.
Yes, these have a little bit of reverse psychology to them and yes, I am being a little harsh for a reason. I want to activate the Adult in you.
I want the person you are to stand up and say, “This is me, take it or leave it!”
This is the attitude I developed when I realized how much of a doormat I was most of my life. My ex-wife actually taught me this. She taught me to honor my boundaries no matter what.
I used to be like, “Yeah, but what if I get fired?”, or “What if they don’t like me?”, or even, “What if I honor my boundaries, and the person I love leaves me?”
Let me let you off the hook if you have any of these thoughts…
People who love you want you to be the best person you can be.
People who support you will support you honoring yourself.
People who want you to succeed want you to stand up for yourself.
And on the flip side, people who have dysfunction they haven’t overcome yet want you to stay at a level that satisfies that dysfunction.
People who are afraid of change and progress in life want you to stay who you’ve always been so that their misery has company.
And people who are not successful and not growing and evolving want to keep you where you are so that they aren’t lonely at the bottom.
So the question is, Do you stay where you are to keep those people company or do you rise above and evolve into the person you are or want to become so that everyone sees the greatness you know you are inside?
And if you don’t think you’re great, you can drop that old belief too. People who aren’t great don’t listen to shows like this, that’s all I’m saying. Even having the slightest interest in improving yourself proves that there is greatness in you.
Sometimes you just have to be proud of yourself dammit, and let that ego come through and show those around you that you have improved and you have absolutely come a long way from the person you used to be.
Every interaction with a person is a chance to honor who you really are deep, down inside. And sometimes you don’t get another chance to do it.
Sure, there are times when embracing who you are won’t be appropriate and you’ll need to back off. I won’t lie.
If I’m walking down a dark alley and start being followed by hoodlums, I’m probably not going to let my greatness shine and just strut my stuff as if I’m impervious to all negativity around me.
I won’t show my fear, but I will definitely find a public place really quick so that I’m not attacked.
I don’t think it’s paranoia to be aware of your surroundings, nor do I go around judging everyone as hoodlums, I just follow my gut and do what feels to me to be the best option.
Sometimes you have to let your guard down and be yourself so that others can see who you really are. And sometimes it’s simply not safe.
But when you’re with family, it’s up to you to determine if you are safe. Most of the time, when you find yourself regressing to a younger way of behaving, you know – that old you, it’s due to an old fear or belief.
But ask yourself, is there really anything to be afraid of here? And is it better to continue being someone I’m not just to appease everyone else?
Or, can I choose to be who I am or am becoming so that they will see the real me and treat me as I want to be treated?
This is really the result of all of this: Getting treated the way you want to be treated.
Imagine if that were a possibility? Imagine getting treated the way you want to be treated. Wouldn’t that be nice?
It’s entirely possible when you turn on your adult and behave like the evolved person you are. Not everyone will like it, and some people will downright reject it, but do you want to lower yourself to a place that accommodates them, or let them come up to a place of acceptance and unconditional love for you?
Give people a chance to see the real you. Even if they don’t like it, you’re gonna love it.
“Be yourself” will have a whole new meaning when you are able to be authentic in front of family.
You’ve lived quite a long time on this planet and have earned the privilege of being accepted for who you are, haven’t you?
And when there are people that can’t accept you for who you are, then you have the option of satisfying their dysfunctions or honoring your greatness.
Hmm, that doesn’t seem like a hard decision, so I hope you’re able to make the right one every time.
This guy is full of shit, and obviously was never taught the values of loyalty and kinship of any real family. The blood connection to family isn’t an excuse to allow family to hurt you, but blood family is sooooo much more than who respects you or whatever. Think about the number of people in the world, and then think about the size of your family. Family is your unit and your tribe. Moreover, family is your family gor life, and regardless of this morons closed mindedness there is a definite psychic link between blood family members, which the rest of the world is not linked in to.
Here’s one example of what I am talking about. I didn’t meet my son until he was almost two years old. Moreover, the first time I met my son, I was not aware he was my son. However, without any prompting my son jumped up on me and called me “Da da.” Both his mother and I wrongly corrected him, as we had not known he was my son, and in fact we believed him to be some one elses son. We actually even have the exchange on video, which his mother and I still marvel at. That is a true story, and an example of the undeniable connection of true blood family. Your family will always allow your growth as a person, and your family always deserves the benefit of the doubt and chance to change, because they are your blood family!
What a great comment! Thank you so much for your input. Family can be the closest bond in someone’s life, and you have proven this with your amazing story.
In this article, I give the reader a chance to be okay with not liking or respecting abusive family members, especially where there is severe physical or sexual abuse within the family. I don’t believe there’s a reason to keep those family members in your life.
Your difference of opinion is important for you and your family, as it works well – and I completely respect that. I know several people who were sexually assaulted and raped by blood family members that might feel differently than you.
I don’t disagree with you on many points, but I will ask you the question:
What DO you do when a family member is that abusive?
Does blood or kinship still come first, and do you do you best to keep that close tie?
It’s certainly a challenging and controversial topic. Thanks so much for your reply – I appreciate you taking the time to share it.
Hi, I would love to reply to your questions with examples of my own life.
(P.S. I am absorbing all your words and techniques and am going to experiment with quite a few)
– now, onto the subject of sex and blood.
It is very true that we have a psychic connection with our children.
(You may also have noticed this connection with your own Mum)
From a dysfunctional childhood myself, including sexual molestation, I would now say that the psychic “link” is strengthened. ..
As a child I didn’t understand, but I am now a grandmother – there are so many psychological factors involved – so many.
The Greatest for me was the Power to say “No” – it just AMAZED me that this word has So Much Power !
I started using it when I was about 40 years old.
“Can I come and see you?”
The psychic link between the family member who used me as a sex toy was incredible – how he would find me – (I was a skilled runaway) –
Well, the first time I ever stood up for myself was when I was contacted by him via the phone, about the death of his brother – would I go to the funeral.
I said no.
He got all mad and said I was on my high horse ..
I felt scared (as usual)
He asked if I would come to his funeral – I said: I dont know …
He wanted to come see me, etc, and I said no.
In fact, I said: “I don’t know if I ever want to see you again dead or alive”
Remarkably after this event, he never contacted me again.
Many years went by,
All of his brothers died, he had a massive heart attack and a couple of strokes – and continued to live.
Then, the day came when I got in touch with my eldest cousin, and we met again after 30 Years, and went around to our Aunties house –
As the gods would have it, the night before, my family member, of whom i had put in jail when i wss 14, had flown up to buy a car and was driving down to my aunties house AT THE SAME TIME.
what are the odds.
So, there I was speaking with my Auntie and Cousin, saying that I do love my dad, and its really hard for anyone to get a grip on why, and I can logically explain it myself, I had the FEELING that he was outside …
I said that I was just nipping out for a cigarette –
I went out the door, and walked the driveway and looked out onto the street – expecting him …
It was confusing to my mind, and yet .. I was like a kid waiting for that confirmation that he was there …
My cousin came out to me and said – did you see your dad ?
and I was like OMG !
and, as I had walked out the back door, he had knocked on the front door –
The moment had come.
I could either run, or see him.
I considered for a moment – I am a strong girl now, I am confident, I have self esteem, I love the adventure of my life –
Running away had never helped me in life – it made me run on fear, and I don’t do that anymore, so …
Inside I went.
There he stood back on, talking to my Auntie –
It was really simple.
I said “how’s it going old man”
He turned around and said “Gidday!”
and then we spoke no words, but hugged in silence for a good 5minutes – each time I went to draw away he held on tight.
And still we stood there.
Although there was much chattering between my cousin and auntie during this time, we did not participate.
We stayed hugging until our breathing had slowed down and we were both calm.
Now, we both made sure of each other in that moment.
We allowed the real love to transmit.
Not the physical, but somewhere in our Soul.
It doesn’t change what happened, or why.
and nor does it make us “friends” .
But what it did do was HEAL
and who can ask for more.
I love that you shared this. You found a way to break through some tough barriers to heal and possibly even let go of any anger or resentment that you had against him all of these years. I’m all about letting go of what doesn’t serve you anymore so that you can heal. Thank you so much for your story.
It sounds like how you healed was exactly what you needed to do. Not everyone will be able to do what you did, but you’ve proven that what might seem impossible is possible.
Thank you again! I’m so glad you’re in a better place now.
Thank you. This was well-needed. Contrary to the other negative comment here, I don’t think you are trying to get someone to cut ties with their family.
I have lived abroad for university and really got to know myself then, but when I returned to my home country, where it is the norm to live with your parents until you get married, I found myself disintegrating. The atmosphere was stifling at home and reminded me of all the ways I was controlled by my strict overbearing mother who cannot let a hair go out of place. I so badly wanted to assert myself that I clashed with her repeatedly. Alas, I have been reminded repeatedly by my siblings who don’t mind her control, that it’s her house so it’s her rules, so it really doesn’t matter what I think or feel – I’m obligated to obey. It’s been 4 years since I returned from abroad and sadly, my old programming came back and I have been in a place of disarray for over a year. However, your article gives me hope that I can be myself again. Thank you so much, Paul. I’m saving this page for when I need it again. Thank you.
Thank you Ruskea. I want you to be able to be yourself around anyone! But at the same time, I know it’s not always possible IF you want to maintain a relationship with them. Of course, when you define your personal boundaries (what behavior you will and won’t accept), they can choose whether to be in a relationship with you or not.
The hard part is defining those boundaries, especially when certain people know your triggers and know how to get under your skin.
The way I deal with it, if it ever comes up, is to remember that my integrity and dignity is on the line, and if someone is crossing that line, I think: Without my integrity and dignity, what do I have left as a person? In other words, if someone takes away what makes me ME, then what do I have left?
Being in this space helps me with the courage and strength I need to honor myself.
That doesn’t mean you should always stand up to everyone, because sometimes you have to pick your battles. But if you are feeling attacked, insulted, or belittled in any way, make sure you know you’re worth and know you deserve better treatment. That way when it comes down to making the choice between letting someone be harmful to you or putting yourself first, you will make the right choice when the time comes.
It’s usually not easy, but it sounds like you can do this. It’s a matter of understanding there will be losses in your life if you choose to honor you. Unfortunately, that comes with the territory sometimes. And other times, people come around and realize they were being harmful and stop doing it because you’ve shown them that you won’t be around if they behave badly.
Thank you again for sharing this.