“I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I’m really dreading Christmas. My family still treat me like I’m a kid. Worse, I then start acting like one.”
Reverting to old behaviours is something most of us can identify with.
As adults, we might have ceased behaving in a certain way because we’ve grown up. Trouble is our family might not be aware of this change. Their image of us might be out of date, so they behave as though we’re still that person. It’s all too easy for us to slip back into familiar patterns by responding to old triggers and reverting to out-of-date, unhelpful behaviours.
Maybe we just need a self-image upgrade in time for Christmas.
The trick is to retain our new self-image (that of a mature adult with choices and opinions) and act accordingly. Becoming self-aware for a few moments can give us some distance to make a considered choice about how we respond. By retaining power over our thoughts, we have power over our feelings and therefore our actions.
Sometimes a conversation with that friend or family member to bring that person up to date with the new version of ourselves might be helpful. More likely though, all that’s required is a change in our own thinking patterns. We can’t change our family, but we can change how we think and feel—and how we view ourselves.
Remember who you are now, in this moment. Before you go into the family situation, take some time to remind yourself of your current skills, talents, attributes and accomplishments. Jot down how much has changed since you first took part in this family dynamic or situation.
Then, ask yourself: “How do I see myself right now? Who am I being in this moment?”
Then, when you’re in the family situation, ask yourself the same questions. If you find yourself rising to the bait or responding to someone in an out-of-date fashion, ask yourself: “Who am I being right now? As an adult in the present, what are my options here?”. If it helps, head off to the loo for a few minutes to re-connect with the current you.
Doing these exercises could help you to move closer to your goals and improve your life. Sometimes we all need a little help, though … and self-coaching may not be enough. Friends and family might not always be able (or willing) to give you the support you need, and they may also be resistant to change.
A session with a professional life coach can help you to figure out what you really want … and how to go about getting it. Having someone on your side who will gently hold you accountable, and root for your success, can boost your confidence and make the process of change faster and more satisfying.
Whether it’s one-to-one or group coaching you’re drawn to, please get in touch with me to discuss options.