Have you ever been curious as to why your grown up children can make you feel so sad or so mad? Or do you think you know exactly why...."it's the way they treat me". What if I was to tell you that what they do or don't do isn't the reason that is causing you to have hurt or angry feelings.
Humans are problem solving beings. We are fixers. Most of the time when we feel something we don't want to feel, ie unloved or unappreciated by are adult children, we have a problem that we think will be fixed when our children change what they do and say to us. But since we have no power to change their behavior, this will never fix the problem. Changing their behavior even if we could (remember we voted for the plan of agency in our premortal existence), doesn't fix the problem because their behavior is not the problem.
From the time when we were little humans, we were raised to think the cause of all our problems is what is happening to us; that is, the situation or circumstance is the cause of all our problems. We grew up believing that the way to solve problems was to change the situation.
If this were true, we would all have the same thoughts and feelings in identical situations. But that is not true. The photo is a picture of my husband and I in a small village in Samburu, Kenya, one of the places we to went while serving an 18 month mission in Kenya, Africa. I loved everything about this little village. The people, the simple life style, the colors of their clothes, the food they ate and how they prepared it, the ingenuity of how the way they built their houses. Give me a place to put my head at night and a place to get out of the rain or sun and I'm good. My husband did NOT have the same thoughts or feelings. When I told him, "I could live here" he said "well, I couldn't!!!" He likes his convienences, even offered us in our flat in Nirobi. It was the same circumstance that we both were experiencing yet we both had complete opposite feelings about that situation.
It's not the circumstance that's causing the problem, it's the thoughts we have about the circumstance that causes our feelings. The problem is the sentences in our brain, the story we're telling ourselves about what were making that situation mean that causes our feelings. If we think negatives thoughts, we going to feel negative feelings.
I have a daughter that calls about every 6 weeks. I text her; I try to call her but most of the time there is no response. When I do get to talk to her, she's always in a hurry to go somewhere or do something. She doesn't share much of what is going on in her life; she volunteers very little information about her kids. I used to feel hurt; feel that perhaps I irritated her; feel that I wasn't important to her: feel that my role as her mom was obviously over. I felt our relationship was distant.
When I was tutored in using the Model (a formula to solve any problem, created by my mentor and trainer Brooke Castillo) that her behavior was not the source of my hurt feelings, I was able to "fix" my suffering without her changing at all. When I changed the story I was telling myself, I began feeling closer to my daughter. Do I still wish she shared more details of her life with me? Of course. But instead of thinking she doesn't share enough of the details of her life with me and she doesn't keep me up to date on my grandkids' comings and goings, I started thinking about how much I loved her and all the good things she does in her life. I stopped thinking thoughts that were causing me to be in pain. I began focusing on how I could show her I loved her and I quit thinking that she should be showing me she loved me.
If it was the circumstance (factually, what she said or didn't say) that was causing me to feel distant in our relationship, everyone who had a daughter that acted in exactly the same way as my daughter did would have a distant relationship. And that cannot be proven. There are some women who don't want to have a connection with their daughter, and these women would not be hurt if their daughter acted the way mine did.
The good news is that we do have control over how we feel about those circumstances in life we consider to be problems. We do have the power to feel any emotion we want to feel, including the kind of relationship we want to have with our adult children.
The circumstance is always neutral. A circumstance is a fact that can be proven in a court of law. The past, other people's behavior, world events, are circumstances. The CIRCUMSTANCE IS NOT THE PROBLEM....The problem is sentences in our brain we've told ourselves about what we're making the circumstance mean.
If you're suffering in your relationship with your adult children, try creating a loving story about how you can be the adult in the relationship where you give love.
Love is always an option. Practice choosing love because LOVE ALWAYS WINS.
"HOW do I love thee" by Elder Holland. Click here
If this resonates with you, and you would like me to help you explore how it applies to you and your relationship with your adult children, email me. I offer a free 30 minute consult where I teach you how to use a simple formula that will help you to stop suffering in your relationships with your adult children.