Taking Care of Yourself When Visiting Family
As I sit here on the plane to Denver to see my Mom and sisters, I feel excited. I also know that it will be a testing ground. You, like me, may find that your lifestyle is very different from that of your parents and siblings. This can be fodder for judgment, conflict, and discomfort or it can be an opportunity.
Returning to your family can be a kind of test for your practice of acceptance, compassion, and honesty. You get the opportunity to see where you get caught by your judging mind and where you have let go and don't react anymore. When I am in reaction I notice myself thinking or saying things like: I can't believe he is eating that. What about his heart condition?! If she wouldn't spend her money on more stuff, she wouldn't be in so much debt. Mom, you have got to exercise. You'll feel better if you do. How can they watch so much TV?! How can they live like this?! That perspective (on politics, religion, etc.) is ignorant, I have to educate them.
When you find yourself feeling tense and having thoughts (or speech) like this, it's a good sign you have been too long outside of your comfort zone. Take a time out in your comfort zone -maybe go for a walk, take a favorite book to a coffee shop, lay down for a nap, etc.
Once rejuvenated you can give yourself some empathy for the feelings and needs up for you. Allow yourself to feel grief when you see that your family's strategies for health and happiness and even connecting with you are not so effective. Return to your authenticity by remembering your core values, intention, and how you are committed to showing up in the world. Loving your family doesn't mean playing a role to maintain a false sense of harmony. Continue to ask yourself how you can be honest and compassionate.
Remind yourself that your family is doing the best they can. Rather than giving advice offer empathy. Rather than complaining or judging, express your feelings, needs, and requests. Then, when you get caught again go back to your comfort zone.
Here's the short version of how to take care of yourself when visiting family:
- You notice you are judging or complaining.
- Take a time out and spend some time in your comfort zone.
- Give yourself empathy.
- Remind yourself or your values and intention.
- Re-enter family scene with compassion and honesty.