by Brian Yaucher, DLCC Coach
What does practicing flexibility with your family look like?
Family relationships are often so close that it can be very hard to accept behaviors that we don’t like, as they are usually a big part of our daily lives. It’s easy to get caught up in wishing things would be different, but all we can really change are our reactions to others’ behavior. It is also important to acknowledge that we may not understand everything that might be going on, and try to step into empathy as much as possible. This is hard; I know first hand.
Growing up, I felt anger and resentment towards my mother and father after they announced they were filing for divorce. How could this be? I understood that every family had their challenges, but the news was surprising and took me aback. From the time of the announcement, I was furious! At school, I resented the fact that my classmates had their families attend all their events while I was either solo or with a single parent. Holidays were especially difficult, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed that my parents weren’t together. For many years, I blamed my parents for my unbalanced childhood.
Step into their shoes
Over time, I learned to take a step back and look at it from their perspective. There was much more to the story than I knew, and I realized that they had a better relationship when they were apart. I learned to accept that they had made the best choice they could, given the circumstances. This acceptance allowed my feelings of shame and embarrassment to dissolve and turn into understanding, forgiveness, love and acceptance for my parents.
In order to work towards stretching for unconditional acceptance, try looking at it from the others’ perspective, and let go of any desire for them to be different. In order to truly practice flexibility, we need to accept people just as they are and let go of judgement. Try to think of somewhere you could practice flexibility with your family members, and see if it doesn’t strengthen your relationship. I know it did for me!