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How to deal with difficult family members-Break the Cycle and make the relationship healthier.

How to deal with difficult family members-Break the Cycle and make the relationship healthier.

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“You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

How to deal with difficult family members-Break the cycle and make the

relationship

healthier 

Every happy family picture hides some unhappiness behind the broad smiles.

How to deal with difficult family members?

And one of the most harrowing reasons behind these unreal happy faces is difficult family members.

The ones whose sanity flashes like the dim light.

Sometimes weak and sometime strong.

And you swing between their two extreme sides.

The normal calm side and the tumultuous enigmatic side.

Sometimes they are as easy as running smooth water and sometimes as hard and cold as ice.

You cannot predict and declare where the next moment will take you with such dual personalities.

In the middle of a happy chit-chat, there will pop up a reason, big enough to hijack their sane minds but extremely microscopic for you to understand what went wrong.

And sometimes you will become a witness to their stubborn, difficult and confusing reactions.

You want to bang the window and dunk your head in cold water, but you feel helpless.

But then the very moment when the scene changes, your reflexes change, your attitude is different, and your temperament is calm.

Feelings of love and compassion suddenly start to well up again and you realize, they are your family.

You don’t hate them, you don’t want to throw them out, you don’t want to love them less, you wish to see them change.

The fact that there isn’t any exchange for family members, you try to repair and mend the broken bonds hoping to see them get better and easier with time.

Having a difficult family member isn’t a misfortune, it is a curse. A curse that stops you from being happy even when life gives you no reason to be unhappy.

There isn’t any opponent to fight with, but a team member who isn’t ready to play the game well, who is stubborn, who is difficult and who is not aware of the hard time he/she gives to the family.

Being a part of a family where you have members whose difficult behavior demand you to climb the mountains or jump off a cliff, the most sacred space “home” becomes a slaughterhouse of emotions.
You want to buy peace but all you afford in this noise is turbulence.

A disturbing family space is like that water which never gets free from ripples, and you fail to see your clear shadow in it.

Family members who give you a tough time corrode your mental peace.

A good team can deal with a bad time, but a bad team makes the good time bad.

You don’t want the world to know your team is bad, your team is difficult, and your team gives you a hard time. You want to play the game well no matter how hard it is for you to bring your team together.

It gets difficult, it becomes painful, it becomes toxic but because you feel these family bonds are your reason to smile and live, you keep walking on the eggshells.

You see the other teams happy and showing solidarity and you keep toiling to show the same even if it isn’t really.

The irony is they are doing exactly what you are trying to do.

Making up for the difficult element.

There are no perfect family dynamics in the world, there are dynamics that every family tries to bring perfection in.

They are not the best family members; they try their best to become the best family.

If you are having a hard time with a family member, before you decide to take a big step of breaking ties with the family, I want you to walk with me into the fine intricacies of understanding a difficult family member.

 

 

What makes your family member a difficult person?

The difficult family member is the emotionally weakest member of the family.

The one who has very little control over his/her feelings and emotions.

They are difficult not because they are bad but because they fail to deal with situations that look uncomfortable or trigger them. They tend to take things personally and when they do, their reactions are loud, toxic and venomous.

They aren’t difficult because they hold an intention to make things difficult for their family but because they are constantly worried about the safety of their emotions, power and their dominance which gives them a feeling of security.

They think that their identity is always at stake.

So, when they act difficult, they feel safe.

 They did not choose to be like that. Their toxic patterns are a sum total of all their life experiences, and their conditioning and a lot to do with their karmic baggage.

They are addicted to certain behavioral patterns and fear losing their comfort zone and familiar space despite the fact it is toxic and deteriorating.

We all are cut from the same cloth but because we are stitched differently and into different patterns, we look different and behave differently.

 

Why do you fail to deal with difficult family members?

You start normalizing their behaviors without really working on the remediation.

The heated moment might look like you would never get to normal terms with them but the moment the scene changes, you are in a different realm. You were hysterical in one moment and you became compassionate in the other.

Just because the heated argument settled down, you don’t look into the problem anymore.

But the truth is, these situations in which you happen to collide with the difficult members are not the problem. The problem is why the collision happens often and why you haven’t been able to deal with them.

You are not trying to solve the problem; you just wait for the matter to calm down.

When you have a hard time with a difficult family member, your entire focus and attention is on yourself. 

What bothers you more is not the problem but your lost peace.

You look at the matter but do not find the cause behind the matter.

You become used to such repetitive behaviors and rather than dealing with them, you start living with them.

 

They have Stories you haven’t heard.

They behave weirdly and you react to their weirdness. But you don’t know the stories that make them weird.

You have no idea what made them difficult, or what factors contributed to their difficult behavior.

They are the victims of conditioning which cultivated toxic traits in them.

For instance, imagine they behave difficult that you can’t help losing patience and reacting terrifically against them.

Now imagine while you are in this ruckus, you get to know that they have a major problem, a disease. Suddenly there is a paradigm shift and you look beyond their difficult behavior.

You get a reason that satisfies your mind because now your mind has a story that compensates for their difficult behaviors.

It is like that girl in the movie who falls in love with a man who she later finds are a gangster. And she begins to hate him for his fierce and terrific brutality. But then one day when she hears his backstory that made him a gangster, she cannot stop herself from loving him.

The difficult family members are the gangsters with a backstory that you do not know, and you don’t get into.

You react to how they act in the present but are clueless about what made them like this.

 

You will stop reacting if you understand this.

It is a never-ending game, and you will never conquer the difficult members if you just look at what they are on the surface and react to their toxic patterns.

You want them to change but you are not changing your ways to deal with them.

They are burning already in their fire and because the heat is intolerable, you react fiercely.

They are set on fire and all you do is fan their flames.

Before I guide you on how to deal with them, understanding three things will stop you from reacting to their difficult behaviors.

 

Difficult family members are an opportunity for you.

We all have negative and positive traits. It’s only when we are exposed to certain conditions and situations, that our traits come to the surface.

No matter how good we are, there is a negative vulnerable side to each one of us that is self-sabotaging.

Unless we fall into a situation that triggers our impulsive reaction, we remain aloof from our own emotions. And these emotions remain in hibernation. We never deal with them until anything is triggering.

And this negative side which we never deal with is like a volcano which can explode if it is not dealt with.

So, when you encounter with difficult family members, they are a chance for you to deal with your negative patterns.

They are the external stimulus that tells you what triggers you, why it triggers and what you need to do to not feel triggered.

 A peaceful space will never introduce you to your weak and negative traits.

The more you deal with members who introduce you to your triggers, the more you get the chance to work on them.

If they are difficult, there is big room for you to become better while you deal with them.

Just like the adverse conditions are not there to destroy you but destroy the weak in you, the difficult members are a chance to look into your weaker areas and work on them.

 

They need more help than an average person.

You treat a blind man, a deaf man, or a madman with a different approach. Just because you see something is deficient in them on the physical plane, your mind directs you to become more lenient and understanding.

You excuse them for things that trigger you because your mind knows their actions are coming from a place of ignorance and malfunctioning.

But when it comes to other people who look normal to you, you take a step down and stop offering them your wise and patient side.

The reality is, just because they look fine in their physical plane does not mean their mental plane is fine too.

They are the victims of hardwired conditioning and karmic baggage that make them difficult.

They need more help than an average person.

 

You cannot change anyone if you cannot change your reaction towards them.

It’s like you have an encounter with a lion and you expect a lion to sit calm and pass by you without attacking you. Similarly, expecting someone to not act weird who has a problem to understand things is a guaranteed way of making things worse. You cannot change them until you change your reaction towards them.

 

How to deal with difficult family membersMake the relationship healthier

One can guide you in two different ways to deal with difficult family members.

One is to just save yourself no matter if it breaks your ties with your family. The second is to save yourself and save the relationship as well.

But before you choose which way to go, it is important to understand what stage your relationship in. 

Sometimes you need better ways to handle the difficult family members and sometimes you need to distance yourself to make things better.

Before you decide to cut ties with your family, I want you to introspect whether you have been dealing with them from a place of clarity and maturity or not.

Cutting ties with a difficult family member is not what I don’t promote but it is something that I will ask you to take action on only when you know you have dealt with them keeping in mind all the factors that I shared in this blog.

5 things you should focus on if you want to make things better:

 

Change your way of looking at them.

Change the lens.

Don’t see the negative that is coming to you. Look at what impact that negative has on them. When you stop treating yourself as the victim, you allow yourself to see how their difficult attitude is contributing to disrupting their mental peace.

When they act difficult, the very first effect of that behavior is on themselves before it is on you.

 

It’s not about you.

You know them but you haven’t tried to understand how they function. You will keep repeating the squabbles and lose your mental peace if you do not understand their psychology.

They do not fight for something; their fights are with themselves. They are constantly trying to satisfy their ego and the urge to prove that their notion about a thing is right.

In his classic, The Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz says:

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their dreams, in their mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.

He continues:

There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.

Start by reminding yourself that what people do and say about you is the product of who they are, not who you are.

 

Come on their side to put off the fire.

They are not always big issues that create tension, they are more often matters that you don’t bother to think about right after an hour.

They can be anything involving household chores to daily errands which will ignite agitation and if you take them personally, they will set you on fire.

Ask yourself whether proving your point will help you in any way?

When you know it isn’t about ethics or anything about your values but a general difference of opinion on a petty matter, make a U-turn and come to their side.

It gets better when you choose them over your perspective.

It is a far healthier choice to save yourself than saving your ego.

Lose yourself in those agitating conversations and you will find yourself in a peaceful space.

 

 

Don’t treat them as your equivalent.

They are difficult because there is something they are failing to handle in themselves.

The problem is not they are difficult, the problem is you are expecting them not to be difficult.

It’s like a cat that never stops licking the milk no matter how many times you stop her.  But because you know the cat does not have the sense to take your orders, you treat her with love.

Just because they are humans like you, does not mean they have the same level of perceiving things.

Don’t treat them as your equivalent.

You don’t have to get into the matter as much as you need to understand how they act in any matter.

Once you become aware that they are slaves to an unknown internal cage, you don’t yell or fight with them, instead, you see them as someone incapable.

And when you are certain they are helpless, it becomes easier for you to deal with them because you stop correcting them and instead help them by not letting their ego explode.

 

 

Ask yourself, what can I control.

You can’t change how someone else acts, so don’t waste your time trying. What you can control is how you behave. If you don’t like what you see in a difficult family member, then focus on the only thing you can control: how you act and react.


 

 

It is not going to change in one night. It will come with practice. When you will allow them to express without retaliating to them and take healthy measures to counter their triggers.

A difficult family member is not a toxic member, and you have to get clear on this before you start repairing the relationship.

You don’t need to cut ties with a family member who is difficult but not abusive or toxic.

I hope this blog helps you improve your relationship with your family.

Inviting you to join my weekly newsletter where I share lessons from Bhagavad Gita, inspiring thoughts and an idea worth reading.

 
 
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Hi! This is Sarita Mian.

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