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  • Writer's pictureSara Aloimonos

Rising Above Family Issues

Family is family and we tend to put up with a lot to keep the peace. We might turn a blind eye to misbehaviour, pretend words went unheard, and actions dismissed. All to ensure families can gather during a holiday, take vacations together and keep cousins and siblings connected. What happens when you're not honoring how you truly feel and your family isn't respecting your boundaries, your personal growth, and beliefs? That lump you keep swallowing and nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach is you dishonoring your feelings and before long, you're headed to a place of resentment and deep remorse. How can you honor yourself yet still keep family connections intact? This is harder than it may seem. It really depends on the receiving party. You often hear the words, 'you've changed' said in a targeted, disgusted manner. It's meant to be intimidating from the person speaking it and, yes, thankfully, people change. The accusers are feeling intimidated, threatened, and put out by your newfound standards. Don't let their accusations be a negative thing.

Personal growth = change.

When your personal growth exceeds those around you, it's difficult to temporarily align yourself (and abandon your values) with others to keep the peace. Sometimes, it's not worth it. You dishonor yourself. Be prepared. Don't get me wrong. Honoring yourself, personal growth, and speaking your truths are becoming more and more accepted even amongst older generations. You will know if you're aligning with a family member when you state your boundary and they respect it, when your voice is heard and not ridiculed or chastised, and when you can share in balanced debate and have both perspectives respected. Any feelings of threat will be noticeable and you can gently back away from this person. Respect that they have their own rigid thought process, you can't change that, and move on.

One thing I've learned is, when meeting or conversing with family who no longer align with your values, keep it short and sweet. Depart at a time that leaves you both feeling relatively connected and in a civil place. Avoid deep discussion, especially on topics you know will trigger them and keep to topics that are enjoyable, amicable, and light. You don't need a deep connection with these people just because they are family.

You shouldn't HAVE to put up with poor behavior just because they're family. Sometimes you simply won't connect with other family members. I've used exit strategy coaching to help others remove themselves from sticky situations while still keeping family dynamics in a distant yet respectful order. This is a possible route and one you may need to take when everything you try proves too difficult and you still want to honor your boundaries.

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