Have you ever fallen into this scenario? Your adult married child comes to town to visit. It so happens their spouse’s parents live in the same town. When their visit is over, they have spent approximately 75% of their time with the spouse’s parenst and only 25% with you.
Of course, you feel sad. It’s human nature to feel sad and disappointed but you should remember there is nothing wrong with you for feeling some negativity. We all have a need to feel wanted, needed, and connected.
But instead of feeling like a “truck just ran over you”, let’s get to a place where we feel more like we were “forced off the road by a car”. We are still feeling some anger but it’s a little less intense.
The circumstance of seeing your child’s family less than the in-laws seeing them is the fact. That fact cannot make you feel anything.
It’s when you start thinking about what that circumstance means, that you feel hurt. Your thoughts may be you are missing out on bonding with them; you start making judgements about them; you begin fearing you are disconnecting from them; we’re not fun enough to be around; there is something wrong with us.
It’s these thoughts that cause you to have unwanted feelings about the circumstance. You might feel sad or hurt which is a form of shame; “We aren’t worthy of their time”.
You start feeling resentment which comes from judging them. “They should be spending more time with us”. You can feel scarcity; “This wasn’t enough time spent together to develop connection with them. I’ll never have a close relationship with them”.
Your thoughts are not facts.
Fact: My child and family didn’t spend as much time with us as he did with his spouses’ family.
Thought: They should have spent more time with us.
Feeling: Hurt and sad.
The fact didn’t create the feeling; the thoughts did. And the thoughts are focused on you. That means, since you create all your thoughts you are creating all you pain by the thoughts you are choosing.
If we can manage our brain to think curious, compassionate, loving, connecting, understanding thoughts we can shield ourselves from feeling such painful emotions. When we are able to do this we are function as our best self.
It doesn’t feel good and we don’t show up as our best selves when we are thinking thoughts that cause us to feel self-pity, resentment, and judgement.
Focus on thinking something kind. Assume the circumstance has nothing to do with your childs love for you. Be happy with yourself by being happy for other people. Tell the truth; tell them you would like to see them more; then tell them again, lovingly.
The key to any loving relationship is to be able to manage your brain….not them.
[Inspiration for this blog post came from so many of my clients feeling slighted by their adult children and from the wisdom from my daughter, Jody Moore, from her podcast #267 When You Didn't Get Invited].
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