Learning how to change your life is challenging under any circumstances. Learning how to change your life when you have a family (or other significant relationship) can feel straight-up impossible. You know you have uttered it at least once in your life – “I would, BUT [insert person of choice] does not like the idea.” When those we care about are not on board with our quest for change it can bring a number of challenges into our life. However, it does not need to be a reason for us to stop our process of growth. Challenge brings the opportunity to learn to be more and more graceful and effective in our process. Here are some tips on how.
Start with the easy stuff: When we’re in a place of change and feeling resistance you might find yourself digging trenches and preparing yourself for battle before every push. Hold the trenches! Figuring out how to change your life when you have a family that hates change will be a challenge, but not every one of those changes needs to be. There are plenty of changes you can make – for yourself and your loved one(s) – that will likely go totally unnoticed by your family. Broaden your perspective of the field and start with these smaller hurdles. Your success will empower you and might even help your loved one see (in retrospect) that change isn’t always hard or bad.
Stay the course: Here’s an truth for you – It is impossible to be untrue to yourself and be fully in relationship. (Yep. Read it again if you need to.) As soon as you discredit your own needs you actually withdraw parts of yourself from the relationship. So, when you find yourself meeting that resistance to change from a loved one, remind yourself that fighting for what is right and true for you is the best way for you to be a part of your relationship with them. They might not realize that their resistant behavior is damaging (to you and them) because it limits how much of yourself you can contribute to the relationship. But you do. So stay the course. Keep moving in the direction of your personal transformation. Trust that no matter the outcome this is the path to sharing even more love.
Educate: Sometimes people are against things simply because they do not have enough information to be with them. If you want your loved one to be on board for your process of transformation, you need to help educate them about the process and why it is important to you. It is also helpful if you educate them about how they can be most supportive. And it doesn’t hurt to explain – if they somehow don’t realize this – the way that your happiness and wellbeing influence them through your relationship. Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Give your person (or people) the chance to do their best, just as you are trying to do.
Maybe they are not the problem: It is worth reiterating that – quite often – what we think is resistance by someone in our life is actually our own resistance. If you find yourself saying “I can’t ___” because of someone important in your life, take a minute to check in. Where is the resistance coming from? Maybe it isn’t about how to change your life when you have a family. Maybe it’s about how to change your life, in general. Rephrase the situation in positive terms and possessive language. Try saying “I am choosing to __ because __.” Instead of saying that your loved one is the reason you can’t. How does this feel? With your loved one out of the equation for a moment, can you better see your own role? Ask yourself what needs to change inside of you for you to feel good about taking your next steps.
It can be challenging to engage in our own process of change and stay in healthy relationship with those we love. In order to have both the joy of our own self and the joy of relationship, it is necessary to figure out how to make both work. In your own life, try implementing these tips on how to change your life when you have a family that hates change. Do you have other suggestions of things you’ve tried in your own life that have worked? Share them in the comments below!
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There is something both comforting and beautiful about the end of the year rituals of our holiday celebrations. No matter what you choose to celebrate, each year we return to what we expect to be the same events – perhaps this is a party or meal, purchasing gifts or attending certain religious or spiritual ceremonies.
With the beautiful parts, we also return to the less beautiful – for some of us this is the stress of family, or loneliness, or financial burden. Because of this, it is a perfect time to work toward change. Instead of accepting these stresses as a given, an unavoidable part of the season, what could be different?
How can you use this time of year to grow your sense of how GOOD your life can be?
Below are 18 tips from www.greatist.com to help you reframe many a potentially stressful holiday situation.
Let It Go. For many families, the holidays are the only time everyone is in the same place for more than a hot second. What better time to bring up a forgotten birthday, an unpaid debt, or a longstanding childhood feud, right? Um, no. If you can’t let go of an old grudge (and please, please try), don’t turn a holiday gathering into an airing of grievances. If forgiving someone just isn’t possible at the moment, put on a smile and focus on other matters.
Stand Tall. Being around family has a way of making us revert to our childhood selves. Resist the urge to whine at Mom, fight with siblings about the remote, and, most importantly, defer to others about your own life. Grandma might not approve of your job or lifestyle choices, but when you’re an adult your life is your business. Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. Go With the Flow. Someone forgot the dip, a baby cousin wailed through dinner, and the dogs ate the leftover roasted chicken. A big holiday gathering can bring out the control freak in many people, but resist the urge to make everything Pinterest-worthy. Relax and breathe, and remember that next year no one will remember the time you dropped the Christmas pudding (Okay, we can’t promise that. They might remember. But it’ll be a lot more fun if you laugh along — because c’mon, it’s pretty funny).
Be Self-ish. Nobody likes to hear it, but each person can only control his or her own behavior. Stop trying to make Mom more cosmopolitan or Grandpa less nostalgic. The holidays will be much less strained for everyone if each person only worries about his or her own actions. Of course, with a meddling family this can sometimes feel impossible, but focus on being your best self.
Privacy Please. Don’t be afraid to answer a prying question with “none of your beeswax.” Every family member doesn’t need to know every detail of your life, especially if it’s something you’re not comfortable sharing. So, sorry Cousin Jenny, I’m not going to talk about why I quit my job.
Act Like Santa. Getting everything on a holiday wish list is great, but keep expectations within reason. Avoid disappointment by focusing on the act of giving and people’s reactions to those gifts. Better yet, donate time and money to a worthier cause than your shoe collection.
Get Moving. When the urge to run out the door strikes, listen to it! Heading out for a walk or jog in the brisk air can improve any mood and give you some much-needed space from pesky relatives. Plus, getting blood pumping can reduce stress hormones like cortisol in the body.
Do It Yourself. Taking on a specific project or responsibility can give you a boost of energy and motivation to do something besides watch reality TV while counting the hours until you can leave. Instead of loafing around in the kitchen, stay busy by helping with chores like collecting cans for a food drive, taking the recycling to the dump, or restocking the fridge.
Put the Bottle Down. Sipping on spiked eggnog or a hot buttered rum is part of the fun, but it’s no surprise that alcohol + crowded rooms + family grudges = a whole lot of drama. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes some people more aggressive, so making sure no one gets too friendly with the wine bottle is a good way to keep the peace.
Follow the Leader. When someone else is running the show, stay on the sidelines. Nobody likes a know-it-all cousin trying to steal their thunder, so let Uncle Jim teach Dad how to carve the ham, even if you have a better technique up your sleeve. Besides, trying to take on too much is a recipe for a stressful holiday meltdown.
Mind Over Matter. Feeling really overwhelmed? Find a private space and do some basic meditation to get back on track. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. Check out these 10 ways to meditate every day.
Mix it Up. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to suggest an alternative. If everybody just picks at the traditional roast goose at Christmas dinner, try chicken or ham or even a show-stopping vegetarian dish. Just because someone always hosts the big event or brings a certain dish doesn’t mean they want to do so indefinitely. When planning for the holidays, make sure no one feels forced to carry on a tradition they don’t particularly like.
Zip It. As the old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Let old conflicts gather dust and don’t create new ones by haranguing relatives and kvetching about little things like who brewed the weak coffee.
Positive Pals. Hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself. Spend the most time with supportive relatives and just catch up briefly with others. There’s no reason to be constantly surrounded by negative influencers. And if a conversation is driving you bonkers, simply stand up and leave the room.
The Power of No. Take a lesson from the classic holiday movie “Home Alone” and play to your strengths. No one can do everything, so don’t feel guilty about saying “no.” If you hate cooking, don’t let yourself get roped into hosting a festive dinner. Bring wine or decorations to someone else’s party instead!
Pace Yourself. If you’re scheduled to attend two or three holiday parties every day, consider taking a step back. When seasonal commitments pile up, it’s easy to wind up overbooked. Though friends and family will miss you if you ditch an event, it’s important to take care of yourself first and foremost. Set some boundaries around what you do and do not have energy for, and stick to them to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Keep it Real. Holiday treats are great, but you’ll probably feel better if you don’t drink eggnog like it’s water. As tough as it may be when traveling, try to stick to some semblance of a healthy routine. Allow yourself those holiday indulgences, but remember to also eat fruits and veggies and keep active for your own peace of mind. Incorporating aspects of normal routines can make that weeklong stay in a childhood bedroom a little easier.
Love Is All Around. At the end of the day, remember what the holidays are really about. Family members meddle because they love you, annoying traditions exist to bring people together, and everyone (even grumpy salespeople) just wants to be home for the holidays. When family-induced stress threatens to crush you, take a minute to think about the bigger picture and give thanks for what what’s often taken for granted. Focus on what’s going right or went right in the past year instead of what’s wrong. The holidays are a great time to practice gratitude.