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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:

  1. You notice you are judging or complaining.
  2. Take a time out and spend some time in your comfort zone.
  3. Give yourself empathy.
  4. Remind yourself or your values and intention.
  5. Re-enter family scene with compassion and honesty.

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Basics for Self-Empathy

3 Responses

  1. Dec 22, 2010

    Great reminder, presented in a loving fashion. LaShelle, I have appreciated your 'gems' this year. I am so glad I found your site and get your emails. One of my new year hopes is that I continue to learn to be more compassionate. I hope you will be having more classes for folks who are not in a couple relationship. Thank you!

  2. Dec 29, 2010

    Your welcome Debora. I am so happy to be of service. I will start another women's group in September. I will use the same format: begins with a one workshop than 6-9 one Thusday a month for six months.

  3. Jan 15, 2011

    I am oh so grateful at finding your website and the weekly connection gems are such a gift. Thank you! I'm currently visiting my family for a late round of holidays, and this gem has so resonated with me. What challenging yet rewarding work this is, and the phrase "commitment to show up in the world" really resonates.

    I am thrilled to see that you will be offering another women's workshop. Hurray and thank you for sharing this wisdom!

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