What Do We Do When We Cannot Change Our Loved Ones?

Posted by Mamacita, Volunteer Mentor @mamacita, Dec 9, 2019

Hello everyone. I am asking a question about all those family members that we all seem to have. Those annoying, wierd, dysfunctionsl, boring, ridiculous relatives that share our DNA and our lives. On the other hand, at times we choose not to include these people in our family gatherings. And regret our decision later.So we invite them over again. Only to be disappointed. Again.

What do we do? On every hand, we are bombarded with tv and movie displays of joyous family gatherings. Commercials and even lessons for schoolchildren promote the idea that we are family, by golly. And family not only sticks together, they get together. Frequently. So what are we good citizens of this ever-changing world expected to do?

I have a few ideas on this. Bear with me. I promise not to make you feel guilty, whatever you decide to do for your particular clan.

So join me in this holiday quest for truth regarding our in-laws and outlaws. I hope you will find a chuckle here and there. Maybe a good story, or a verse from a well read book, to help you on your way .

Jingle bell joy and love to you,

Jane

@mamacita I'm with you . Dr told me today that in my mouth I have canker sores ! Never heard of them being inside your mouth Then she asked me if I was STRESSED yes I am by certain family member So I,ll be glad to hear what you have to say

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@mamacita An interesting prompt!! I was struck by the phrase "So what are we good citizens of this ever-changing world expected to do?" That's the thing. I gave up doing – what was expected of me, a long time ago. I had to learn the hard way, that the best thing to do is what is best for me, which may or [more usually] may not be, what is expected by society in general. For my self-preservation I cannot be expected to put up with the outlaws in my family. But I want to hear your options/thoughts!
Ginger

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Howdy, Pardners, out there in Mayo Clinic Connect Land. How are y'all today?

Here in North Alabama some of us are expecting a dusting of snow, which will utterly delight the little ones! Us older folks, not so much.

Boundaries. We all have them. We all SHOULD have them, especially when it concerns the behavior we will tolerate from others. Now, don't get too upset at me for the all caps.

I rarely use all caps. It is considered very rude to speak entirely in all caps. It raises our blood pressure, stress level, and is a trigger for all kinds of emotional disasters!

But I do so in this rarest of instances to simply state that we must not turn into doormats this holiday season. Yes, we are strong. Yes, we are grounded. Yes, we are mature adults who can handle almost any situation that is thrown our way. But….

But, should we have to? Certainly we wish to be kind and loving to everyone we know. Right? Isn't that what Mr. Rogers was trying to teach us?

Yes, we need to have a certain kind of love and respect for every single person who is placed in our lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten that memo. And that is where we begin this conversation.

Really.

What do we do, just how are we supposed to show kindness and respect when some of our crew don't think like we do about such matters? Can we actually change them , mold them, fashion them into the kind of person we want to spend our time with? And if so, just how do we go about that?

Please humor this visual learner. Can you give me some visual pictures of that? What does changing another person for the better look like?

Or should we even try? What is really going on here?

Love you big,
Mamacita

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@mamacita

Howdy, Pardners, out there in Mayo Clinic Connect Land. How are y'all today?

Here in North Alabama some of us are expecting a dusting of snow, which will utterly delight the little ones! Us older folks, not so much.

Boundaries. We all have them. We all SHOULD have them, especially when it concerns the behavior we will tolerate from others. Now, don't get too upset at me for the all caps.

I rarely use all caps. It is considered very rude to speak entirely in all caps. It raises our blood pressure, stress level, and is a trigger for all kinds of emotional disasters!

But I do so in this rarest of instances to simply state that we must not turn into doormats this holiday season. Yes, we are strong. Yes, we are grounded. Yes, we are mature adults who can handle almost any situation that is thrown our way. But….

But, should we have to? Certainly we wish to be kind and loving to everyone we know. Right? Isn't that what Mr. Rogers was trying to teach us?

Yes, we need to have a certain kind of love and respect for every single person who is placed in our lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten that memo. And that is where we begin this conversation.

Really.

What do we do, just how are we supposed to show kindness and respect when some of our crew don't think like we do about such matters? Can we actually change them , mold them, fashion them into the kind of person we want to spend our time with? And if so, just how do we go about that?

Please humor this visual learner. Can you give me some visual pictures of that? What does changing another person for the better look like?

Or should we even try? What is really going on here?

Love you big,
Mamacita

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Gee @mamacita I must be really strange! Growing up, my large extended family got along very well ! Now, we’ve added 2 DILs and their extended families and we all love one another. Gosh!

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@mamacita

Howdy, Pardners, out there in Mayo Clinic Connect Land. How are y'all today?

Here in North Alabama some of us are expecting a dusting of snow, which will utterly delight the little ones! Us older folks, not so much.

Boundaries. We all have them. We all SHOULD have them, especially when it concerns the behavior we will tolerate from others. Now, don't get too upset at me for the all caps.

I rarely use all caps. It is considered very rude to speak entirely in all caps. It raises our blood pressure, stress level, and is a trigger for all kinds of emotional disasters!

But I do so in this rarest of instances to simply state that we must not turn into doormats this holiday season. Yes, we are strong. Yes, we are grounded. Yes, we are mature adults who can handle almost any situation that is thrown our way. But….

But, should we have to? Certainly we wish to be kind and loving to everyone we know. Right? Isn't that what Mr. Rogers was trying to teach us?

Yes, we need to have a certain kind of love and respect for every single person who is placed in our lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten that memo. And that is where we begin this conversation.

Really.

What do we do, just how are we supposed to show kindness and respect when some of our crew don't think like we do about such matters? Can we actually change them , mold them, fashion them into the kind of person we want to spend our time with? And if so, just how do we go about that?

Please humor this visual learner. Can you give me some visual pictures of that? What does changing another person for the better look like?

Or should we even try? What is really going on here?

Love you big,
Mamacita

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@mamacita, thank you for opening this thread for me. My simple answer is: you can only change yourself; you cannot change anyone else. That being said:
You can change your behavior and that may encourage them to change their behavior. For example, my husband used to irritate me so badly and I was almost always in a bad mood around him. I have a laundry routine that gets 90% of the laundry sorted, washed, rinsed, dried, folded or hung up, and put away in one day. He likes to put in a few items at a time as he needs them. He taught himself how to do laundry. So . . . I would find partially dried clothes in the washer (washed and left in the washer) and moldy clothes in the dryer. I talked to him repeatedly about it, showed him and modeled the behavior I wanted. Nothing worked. So, I decided to stop trying to change him and make myself happier. Whenever I walked into the laundry room and found his "style" of washing I turned around and walked back out.
After months of NOT cleaning up the laundry room after him and making sure all laundry was done on a weekly basis I walked into the laundry room one day to see him throwing laundry around. When he saw me he chastised me for letting the laundry room get so messy. Ordinarily I would have been embarrassed and quickly pitched in to get it cleaned up. This time I said, "Every time I come in here and find dirty clothes thrown all over, washed and dried clothes in the washer, and moldy clothes in the dryer I get so mad I want to scream and hit something. So I have decided to leave the room rather than go in and clean up unnecessary messes while I'm in a rage." Then I left the room.
The laundry room is still not as clean as it could be, but there is no clothes left in the washer or dryer anymore. I have been happier and more pleasant straight through.
My suggestion is that if you feel like you are a doormat, get up, get yourself a glass of wine (or whatever) and sit with everyone else in the living room visiting or at the table waiting for food. If you are hosting 20+ people, make one thing and have everyone else bring the other parts of the meal. If you are hosting you have already put a great deal of work into cleaning and setting up for all those people. Unless, that is, you are a relative of mine who has dust that has fallen from the ledge of the window to the floor because it got too high and has left the last 2 weeks of dishes in the sinks.
Here are a couple mantras I use: (1) If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. That means that if everyone is waiting for you to host the holiday dinner, do NOT volunteer. Plan on PBJs for your holiday meal.
(2) Stop enabling. That means that if you are putting yourself out to do something for someone else that they could very well do for themselves, you are enabling. Enabling is making something comfortable that should be uncomfortable. Don't do it! Remember to take care of yourself in at least equal portion to the care you give to other people. It's hard, but so is what you are already doing.
I am glad you posted this today, as I am faced with just such a situation today. I am putting it in another post because this one is so long already.

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This is such a timely post for me. Today I learned that my 45 year old niece kicked her elderly mother (my sister) out of their home. They have lived together since my niece was born, except for a few months here and there. It has been snowing intermittently for a week and we are in the middle of a cold snap with temperatures in the minus double digits. Despite the fact that they have aggressively rejected me for 20+ years, they are still family to me. I am praying for guidance as to how to and if I should approach this. For right now it is prayers.

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@becsbuddy

Gee @mamacita I must be really strange! Growing up, my large extended family got along very well ! Now, we’ve added 2 DILs and their extended families and we all love one another. Gosh!

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@becsbuddy You and your family are not strange. You're the example we strive for.
Ginger

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I can honestly say, neither my husband nor I have relatives who are a problem. Sure, there are some minor annoyances, but not a problem. There is no one in the family who I would not enjoy getting together with! Crazy, huh?
JK

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@contentandwell

I can honestly say, neither my husband nor I have relatives who are a problem. Sure, there are some minor annoyances, but not a problem. There is no one in the family who I would not enjoy getting together with! Crazy, huh?
JK

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@contentandwell No that's not crazy Your fortunate

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@2011panc

@mamacita, thank you for opening this thread for me. My simple answer is: you can only change yourself; you cannot change anyone else. That being said:
You can change your behavior and that may encourage them to change their behavior. For example, my husband used to irritate me so badly and I was almost always in a bad mood around him. I have a laundry routine that gets 90% of the laundry sorted, washed, rinsed, dried, folded or hung up, and put away in one day. He likes to put in a few items at a time as he needs them. He taught himself how to do laundry. So . . . I would find partially dried clothes in the washer (washed and left in the washer) and moldy clothes in the dryer. I talked to him repeatedly about it, showed him and modeled the behavior I wanted. Nothing worked. So, I decided to stop trying to change him and make myself happier. Whenever I walked into the laundry room and found his "style" of washing I turned around and walked back out.
After months of NOT cleaning up the laundry room after him and making sure all laundry was done on a weekly basis I walked into the laundry room one day to see him throwing laundry around. When he saw me he chastised me for letting the laundry room get so messy. Ordinarily I would have been embarrassed and quickly pitched in to get it cleaned up. This time I said, "Every time I come in here and find dirty clothes thrown all over, washed and dried clothes in the washer, and moldy clothes in the dryer I get so mad I want to scream and hit something. So I have decided to leave the room rather than go in and clean up unnecessary messes while I'm in a rage." Then I left the room.
The laundry room is still not as clean as it could be, but there is no clothes left in the washer or dryer anymore. I have been happier and more pleasant straight through.
My suggestion is that if you feel like you are a doormat, get up, get yourself a glass of wine (or whatever) and sit with everyone else in the living room visiting or at the table waiting for food. If you are hosting 20+ people, make one thing and have everyone else bring the other parts of the meal. If you are hosting you have already put a great deal of work into cleaning and setting up for all those people. Unless, that is, you are a relative of mine who has dust that has fallen from the ledge of the window to the floor because it got too high and has left the last 2 weeks of dishes in the sinks.
Here are a couple mantras I use: (1) If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. That means that if everyone is waiting for you to host the holiday dinner, do NOT volunteer. Plan on PBJs for your holiday meal.
(2) Stop enabling. That means that if you are putting yourself out to do something for someone else that they could very well do for themselves, you are enabling. Enabling is making something comfortable that should be uncomfortable. Don't do it! Remember to take care of yourself in at least equal portion to the care you give to other people. It's hard, but so is what you are already doing.
I am glad you posted this today, as I am faced with just such a situation today. I am putting it in another post because this one is so long already.

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@2011 panc

Sounds like you had a Felix and Oscar situation and so glad you were able to come to grips with it. I love your mantras.
The holidays only magnify some of the worst traits in family members and it’s not always easy to rise above or change the situation.

I grew up in a wacky family where I didn’t know if many of the people I knew were really my aunts or uncles or cousins. I thought everyone had families like mine and went on the same bizarre adventures as I did.. I married into a totally sane family and raised children who were close to both the wackos and the sane ones. As a result we all are kind of blasé and even tempered . My son in laws family are not the best examples and their behavior , especially at get togethers can be embarrassing, My darling son in law , the sane one, was always concerned about their influence on his children. My daughter hosted way too many holiday dinners because we believe in family. But over the years they have gone to fewer family events due to time constraints and this is the first Christmas that she won’t be doing the hosting. We are having a restaurant dinner just for us. My daughter in laws family is more sophisticated and we split holidays. I love them.

My grandchildren have seen the best and the worst growing up and are now all sane educated young adults. I found the behavior of my son in laws family funny at first then not so much. At this point in history no one tolerates anything anymore. We love them but……it took a while to separate our lives a little. They have always considered me family and they are close but in a suffocating
way. They will always help you if the can. Same for my sons family. The nine of us are extremely close (my kids both have 2 children each). There’s a place now and there always will be for me so I am fortunate.

Some people are closer to best friends than family. I am appalled when I see how some elderly people are abused or disregarded.
But that’s another topic indeed. Happy Holidays if you celebrate. Try not to let the unimportant things get to you……not worth it.
I reaped the benefits of growing up in a “not so normal” family. I gotta say everyone had a great sense of humor. Thanks Mom and Dad.

FL Mary

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And there my friends, you have the answer to the original question I posted.

We cannot change anyone else.

But we can certainly empathize with and show compassion to those who have difficulties in their lives.

We cannot change ourselves unless we first see that we are not without flaws ourselves. I have been that toxic person.

I have been that person who did not fully comprehend social skills which a Neurotypical person comes by naturally.

I masked. I faked it. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps. I read self help books. Prayed. Laughed. Loved. Lived my life.

We are some of the lucky few who have had so many characters in our family. Family reunions and holidays were fuel for late night "inlaw" support group meetings.

I am of the opinion that characters build character.

Stay tuned.

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@mamacita– Good morning. What a wonderful question, and very timely too. I'm coming into this late due to a bad cold. It feels great to feel good again! I used to dread and at the same time love holidays. My twin sister was a very ill and a socially unaware person and had no boundaries. She was also a drug addict. We never knew who she would bring home or what she would do or say. But she was just impossible socially. She never helped with anything…well I could go on and on.
My family in RI is now pretty small. It's just myself and my younger sister. We do everything together and share holidays at her house. I stopped doing them as my cancer advanced. Her oldest son is a doll and so is his gal and her family from Brazil who visit. My brother -in-law is the only person of opposite political beliefs but because he is out numbered we have tamed him to behave. Besides he doesn't have a leg to stand on. lol.
You are right everyone. You can't change anyone, deep down inside. I believe that I have the right to chose who I accept to be around and who I want nothing to do with.
On a happier not Happy Holidays!

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Hi everyone. Mamacita here, down in North Alabama, where we hold record of some kibd, I am sure, for tornados

They tell us to be prepared for hail, rain, thunderstorms, high winds, and possible tornados.

I want to share with all of you some of the bits I have learned that work for me…and for many others. But right now, all I can think about is my friends and family, plus everyone in the path of these dangerous storms.

In the meantime, let us all agree that we need boundaries every day. There are simply bridges we do not need to cross. We must guard our hearts and our minds, at the same time using discernment in our dealings with others.

I have a great story to tell you about that. So hold onto your hat and hunker down, if you live in the South. You Yankees talk amongst yourselves and think about ways we can respect our boundaries and still treat others in a kind way. We will be back online tomorrow if the Good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise.

Love and light,
Mamacita Jane

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The next thirty minutes are going to be very intense. Storm damage in the county just next to us. Sirens going off now. It feels like tropical weather when you walk outside. I pray that we all are safe and sound when this is over. This is not our first rodeo. Yet, we have a healthy respect for Mother Nature here in the South.

Tomorrow will be a better day, hopefully, and we can talk.

Love and light,
Mamacita Jane

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@mamacita

The next thirty minutes are going to be very intense. Storm damage in the county just next to us. Sirens going off now. It feels like tropical weather when you walk outside. I pray that we all are safe and sound when this is over. This is not our first rodeo. Yet, we have a healthy respect for Mother Nature here in the South.

Tomorrow will be a better day, hopefully, and we can talk.

Love and light,
Mamacita Jane

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@mamacita

Be safe…all of you down in Alabama…..speedy prayers going your way..

FL Mary

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