3 more strategies for dealing with family drama

The last vlog struck a chord.

I had a number of people wanting more. Ask and you shall receive.

The last vlog was all about psychological strategies for dealing with family drama.

This vlog is a more spiritual strategy for dealing with family drama.

We all know people who are, let’s say….challenging and extremely difficult.

  • A relative who has you walking on eggshells
  • A critical partner
  • A flakey friend
  • An unappreciative child
  • A drama-addicted in-law

Jean-Paul Sartre says, “Hell is other people”.

I don’t think it’s quite that bad but the reality is much of the stuff that causes us to suffer, comes from our reactions to others.

What to do?

Let’s suppose you tried the strategies from the last vlog. Maybe you’ve also tried talking things out, setting healthy boundaries, and being ‘the better person’, and you’re still struggling.

This sucks. I know.

Do not close off your heart.

When you close off your heart to others, the ancient neural pathways that can cause us to ‘attack’ others are triggered.

Consider where we came from. We would love, nurture, and protect those in our tribe (us), and we would attack those who were not in our tribe (them).

Once you close off to the other person you activate those old neural pathways and “us” becomes “them”, and you move into attack mode.

This primes your brain to make your body tense and activates the fight or flight system which can cause a mess of problems (damages the relationships, health issues, physical pain, anxiety, depression, etc.).

Yuck!

First of all, you may have to set some healthy boundaries.

  • Staying at a hotel instead of with relatives
  • Not engaging in dangerous conversations
  • Not calling as often as they would like
  • Not extending as many invitations 

Your inner knowing knows what boundaries are best for you. Listen to it. Once you’ve set healthy boundaries, focus on maintaining an open heart.

Wondering how exactly one maintains on open heart?

First, notice what it feels like to have a closed heart.

  • Heavy and constricted chest
  • Anxious mind
  • Fearful thoughts
  • Wishing they’d ‘go to hell’
  • Reactive responses
  • Feeling ‘triggered’
  • Passive aggressive behavior

Second, notice what it feels like to have an open heart.

  • Relaxed body
  • Peaceful mind
  • Warmth in your chest
  • Loving thoughts
  • Empathy
  • Wishing them well
  • Clarity about what works for you
  • Honest communication

Strength comes from an open heart.

The most open-hearted person in a relationship is usually the strongest one.

Imagine that your heart is like the sky, it stays open to all the clouds no matter how dark they are. And, the sky is not damaged by the storm clouds. No matter what clouds come and go, the sky remains the same. This is you with an open heart.

There are some great examples of people who maintain an open heart during times of challenge: Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela. You can learn more about them to discover inspiration on how to keep your heart open.

Or, here’s a tool I use and love.

Close your eyes, picture the challenging person, and send these wishes their way.

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you not suffer

May you feel loved 

Here’s a visual image that might help too. Imagine the difficult person has a lattice of prickley vinery around them that has grown as a result of their life experiences. Imagine that behind the lattice is a warm beautiful light, like a fire, it’s warm and comforting. When you interact with them, focus on the light and not the lattice.

This holiday season, experiment with keeping an open heart. In whatever way works best for you.

 Very big, and festive, love.