DEALING WITH RELATIVES - TIP OF THE DAY THE FIVE CHOICES (from Dealing with Relatives, Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill)

Everyone has family that is sometimes difficult to deal with. But if you’ve had it with the criticism and rudeness, if you’re fed up with interference, tired of taking orders, unwilling to be taken advantage of, or frustrated with egotism,don’t despair. Remember, you always have a choice. In fact, you have five choices:

1. Suffer and complain. If you want things to remain the same, and you’re satisfied to be right about what’s wrong while doing nothing about it, this is your best choice. It’s a complete waste of time, but it’s your time to waste!

2. Go away. If you won’t make the effort to work it out, or you made the effort and got nowhere, you can create the boundary of time and distance to protect your-self from the pain. This a very common choice. In our research we found geography to be the #1 coping strategy.

But before you walk away,consider your other choices..

3. Accept them the way they are. Even if they never change at all, you can change the way you see them, listen to them, and how you feel around them. A change of attitude can set you free from negative reactions to problem behaviors.

In our interviews we found that when people healed a relationship so it was no longer problematic, attitude was either the prime factor or a supporting factor that allowed people to change their own behavior and have a positive effect on their relative.

4. Love yourself when they’re around. Overcoming negative and mixed messages from others requires a more loving relationship with yourself. When you give yourself the love and acceptance that you can’t get from them, you stop being needy and change the dynamic of the relationship.

5. Exercise your influence. Just as some people bring out the best in you, and some people bring out the worst, you have this same ability with others. There is a behavioral balance in relationships, and it can be shifted with intentional behavior. When you shift what you’re doing, your relative will have to shift what he or she is doing too. And suddenly you have options for bringing out the best in relatives . . . even at their worst!

In upcoming posts we will examine some of these behavioral choices to effect others.