thoughts come and go
Mental Health

Two Choices

In addition to my complicated family set up, over the years I have had numerous relationships with people that have made me miserable. Friends, lovers, in-laws, bosses, work colleagues. I’m a very passionate person – a true Leo – and pre-kids would throw myself head first into the deep end of any precarious situation going. Sometimes these experiences would be great and result in happiness. Often however, they would result in misery and heart ache. I was a carefree spirit back then and would bounce back remarkably fast. I’m a pragmatist and feel that each and every knock to my confidence then means that I’m stronger and more capable in my day to day life now. I believe that everything happens for a very good reason, even the horrendous stuff.

The way I see it is this: when you’re in the midst of a bad relationship you have two options available. You can try and change the other person, or you can change the way you interact with them. For family members and close friends, it can be as simple as distancing yourself a little and redefining the rules of your relationship. This can be extremely beneficial in the long run, because by you laying out the new rules and changing your interaction, the change will inevitably have a positive knock on effect and prompt a change in their own behaviour. Win win.

Some people are lucky enough to come from loving, happy families. They don’t harbour resentment towards their upbringing and they love their parents and siblings unconditionally. For those that aren’t as fortunate it can be like navigating a minefield every time you have a family gathering – with Christmas often being the worst time of year. It’s a nightmare having to tread on eggshells, and ending up feeling that you are responsible for the other person’s happiness. If you have one or two people that cause you pain then redefining the rules can work. If the hurt and resentment run too deep, then you may need to consider other options.

If you feel you’ve done your best, nothing is working, and your mental-health wellbeing is suffering because the others are not willing to pitch in and help sort things out, then I would suggest taking a huge step back. Time can often be the only true healer, and an extended break from the other party can be exactly what you both need to realise that your relationship is (or isn’t) worth fighting for. What I personally had to learn the hardest way is that above all else self preservation must come first. There is absolutely no point in being a martyr, you will not thank yourself in the long run.

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30 Comments

  1. Some very wise words indeed, and yes families can be troublesome to negotiate over the festive season! I’ve already had one member of mine try to tell me what I’m going to be doing for Christmas 21014!!!
    Whatever you’re up to over Christmas here’s hoping it’s fabulous x

  2. Great post – not the heart of your post but something that really resonated was what you said about changing the other person. For a long time I didn’t realise I was trying to do this – I wanted to feel safe by making the other person conform to my boundaries. But really it was only after I felt more secure in myself that I realised this was not necessary. It had been my interaction with them that was the problem all along.

    This is very good advice re families. Sometimes it’s the only way.

  3. I take things as they are, nothing to do about it, is there? Merry Christmas to you too!xx

  4. Unfortunately not! Hope you have a lovely time though πŸ™‚

  5. It can be hard going at the time, but a good conclusion in the long run. Wishing you & your family a very merry Christmas πŸ™‚

  6. Sorry to hear that, it’s tough when you have to walk away from people you thought were your friends πŸ™ Hope you have a lovely time over the holidays x

  7. Definitely! Happy holidays πŸ™‚

  8. Thanks Suzanne. You’re completely right, there will always be difficulties to contend with somewhere along the line! Wishing your family a fab time over the holidays xx

  9. I do too, but it’s all part and parcel of growing up isn’t it. I think it’s good to reflect on past behaviour that wasn’t ideal, and want to do things differently. Unfortuantely not everyone is capable of owning up to their mistakes. Hoe you have a wonderful time over the holidays xx

  10. Sounds lovely – it’s good to be around nearest and dearest (whatever shape they come in) over the holidays! Hope you have lots of fun πŸ™‚

  11. Thank you lovely. Self preservation prevailing definitely steps up a notch once there are kids involved! Wishing you all a fab Christmas too xx

  12. Thanks Cat xx

  13. I’m sure we could swap some stories honey πŸ˜‰ Have yourself a wonderful Xmas with your gorgeous family xx

  14. Thank you for your lovely comment Emma, I’m so pleased to hear the post helped. I really hope your day panned out okay, and wasn’t too tough. Here’s looking a fabulous Christmas all round xx

  15. I love your wisdom. I’m only sorry that you’ve learnt it through difficult family scenarios. I for one can share a lot of empathy with you. Today I’ll be with my husbands family. And having read this today prior to going, ur giving me strength to face women who have caused me a lot of grief and stress over the last few years. Thank you! Hope u enjoy ur Xmas and congrats on hitting maternity leave! X

  16. You and I sound so similar sometimes its scary! I have really enjoyed your posts this year – thank you for supporting PoCoLo x

  17. cat1978 says:

    Brilliant post, totally agree that self preservation must be your priority. If anyone would like personalised help with ‘redefining the rules’ in their individual relationships then you can contact me via my website and I am happy to anonymously answer. Redefining the rules can be very straight forward once we fully understand what is going on. Best wishes, Cat xxx

  18. Very wise advice, you are absolutely right that sometimes self preservation must take priority – especially once kids enter into the equation, you can’t allow them to get involved. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas xx

  19. Because of geography (family living in different countries or far away) it’s been a long time since we’ve had a big family Christmas gathering. In the UK we’d often invite close friends without family nearby to join us. But I agree with you sometimes you just need to step back to avoid any minefields.
    I wish you a very peaceful and merry Christmas.
    #pocolo

  20. I know exactly what you mean here in this post. Learning how to react or nor react is something that definitely comes with age. I cringe at some of my outbursts, justified or not from the past!! Unfortunately though some people are just too difficult to work round πŸ™
    Merry Christmas to you xx

  21. I absolutely agree with that and I think it’s something we come to learn in practice over time. I am sure that your advice will help many people who are perhaps dreading the family aspect of Christmas. No family is perfect, I think there are always ‘difficulties’ somewhere along the way. Good advice to bear in mind. Happy Christmas to you and yours x

  22. Time outs are a must sometimes. Hope you have a lovely stress-free holiday.

  23. Beautiful, I have found myself caught up in a messy situation with a couple of “friends” this year, have suffered a lot of stress over it but finally have found peace in taking a step back and letting go. So I totally agree with your tips. Merry peaceful Christmas to you too! #PoCoLo

  24. I think you are making sone very good points-it’s taken me a very long time to come to the same conclusions as you have here. Actually, it’s only really since having children that I have been able to make more positive changes in this area. I hope you have a happy holiday πŸ™‚

  25. They say Xmas time is really stressful for many families. Spending lots of time with your family isn’t always as easy as we like to think.

  26. I agree, if someone causes you undue stress and does nothing to help fix the relationship, it’s better to step back. Especially as parents, we really cannot deal with this added burden of facing people we cannot deal with. Happy holidays to you too! #PoCoLo

  27. sarahmo3w says:

    Really good advice, Christmas can be a stressful time and it often brings these things to a head. I hope you have a very peaceful and happy one this year. x

  28. Great advice. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas xx

  29. judithkingston says:

    Very good points. I come from a loving family but do sometimes benefit from the occasional time out! πŸ™‚

  30. Some really good tips in here. I don’t hate anyone in my frankly but There’s the odd person that does drives me completely round the bend, absolutely mental. I used to get into constant arguments with them and snap a lot. After a lot of years I’ve learnt to keep my mouth shut. It’s worked out soooo much better and it’s much calmer all round. Happy Christmas to you. May it be a stress less one πŸ™‚ x

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