Peace Amongst Negative Family Members

Question:

Hi Adam,

I'm writing you today because I need help. 

My name is Raya I'm 22 years old and I'm still living at my parents' house.

My parents (and my whole family overall) are very negative people and judge almost everything that I say or do. I have no support from them whatsoever (when it comes to decision making) besides when I agree to do something they want me to do. I am also an introverted person which I am completely at ease with but my parents don't seem to accept it and cannot stop comparing me to people of my age that are more extroverted. I've always let them choose for me in almost everything but now that I am getting older, I would like to be more independent and be able to do my own things without being constantly judged and put down. I've tried to talk to them but they are very closed-minded, they do not listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply, they want to be right all the time as if they wanted to compete with me, a behaviour that I do not understand. 

I've always been at war with my mind always wondering if I was doing something wrong for them to treat me this way. I am a pretty obedient child I don't do anything crazy but It seems never enough for them. I would like to lead a more peaceful life, I'm trying my best to remain positive and accept their negativity without it affecting me but it is very hard. Indeed two months ago, I completely lost it and argued with my mom, it was a situation that I wouldn't have normally paid attention to but I was just having a mental breakdown. Since then, I no longer talk to her because I am simply tired. I can no longer stand their negative energy, I'll be 23 in two months and I have to start living in my own terms but I don't want my parents to think that I am rebelling or disobeying. I am afraid that if I start making my own decisions without their approval, I won't ever have a peaceful life. 

English is not my first language, I hope that my message sounds clear enough and I apologise for any mistake.

Thank you. 

 

Response:

Hello,

Thanks for your message, your English was good.

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is for me to say that you can give up trying to understand your parents. You have tried, and it has not worked very well, and it has caused you some disturbance, so give yourself permission to longer carry the burden of trying to understand anyone else. Why should you? Who says you should be able to understand anyone? It is not your duty, nor even your right to be able to understand people, so give it up.

Secondly, you can see that you can not control what your parents think of you. You maybe sometimes can indirectly, by doing what they say, but this is not real control at all, it is just them not being upset. You can not control how they feel, so don’t carry their burdens. Their thoughts and feelings are their own burden, not yours. It may feel as if they make it out that you are the reason for their upset, but you are not. You are not putting bad feelings inside of them and saying “now deal with these”. They are creating these feelings for themselves. If you were physically abusing them this would be different, but it seems without you actually harming them in any way, they claim to be harmed by your actions. This is ridiculous. 

Often as a method of control, particularly with some parents, they will themselves rebel and become very upset if their demands or expectations are not met. As if it is your job to do as they say in how you live your life, and their negativity will help to correct you if you do not conform. I am not saying don’t do the dishes, don't clean the house etc, but in terms of life decisions, why should they actually expect you to follow every order? You are not a robot. If they wanted something to obey their every command in life, then they should have just bought a computer. But even computers can not be completely controlled.

You can also see, if you like, that you can not actually be controlled by anyone. No one has strings attached to you that they can pull. It is only perhaps by things such as guilt, a need to please, or fear that it seems you can be controlled. But in literal terms, another person has much less power over you than you may to think.

You give power away whenever you feel it is your responsibility to make them happy. This can be common with people, even when they are well into adulthood - there is a background sense that your purpose is to please your parents, partly because they have taken care of you growing up. But you never signed any contract. You never said “take care of me so I can do as you say forever”, or “please let me live with you, then I will do as you please later on”. You never made any kind of deal that you would be any particular way, so for any burden like this to be enforced on you is another stupid thing not worthy of your attention.

I’m not saying that suddenly it will all be super-easy, you may find that there will be a bigger emotional response from anyone who realises that their hold over you is weakening. But it is not your problem. Unless you are actually abusing anyone - then how are you in any way responsible? It mainly comes down to the belief in responsibility, I feel. If you are responsible for other’s peace of mind or happiness, you will feel you must always conform so as to not upset them. If you realise that you are actually not responsible at all, that people feel however they want to feel, that you do not give anyone any feelings - then you are free.

It is unfair for a parent to demand that their child obey their every command in how they go about their own affairs. You don’t have to fight with this, but just see it as an unreasonable demand, not your business to get involved with.

Perhaps you fear if you seem to disobey too much, then they will throw you out? I don’t know. Some people may have the attitude “well whatever may happen, I can not live someone else’s life anymore” - and they would actually rather die than carry on. Perhaps you may not feel so strongly, it doesn’t matter either way, but hopefully will find it helpful to realise that you did not experience being born so that you could follow someone’s else’s ideal of life.

Again, I do not mean that you will not serve or honour your parents, or take care of them, but rather that when their expectations of you do not resonate for you, when they are trying to impose themselves on your own life, then you will not need to give any resistance to it, and so give it no reality.

If you watch, you will see they can not help but judge or condemn, as well as praise. It is like a disease. If you asked them to stop, they would not be able to stop. Expecting someone to be able to stop judging is like expecting someone to stop thinking, it is a big ask to wish them to drop a habit of a lifetime. It is probably all they know, and since you are their daughter, they see you as more important than other things, and so judgement intensifies. See that they can’t help it, that their responses are automatic and unconscious, that it is not really them judging, but just old beliefs and mental patterns acting through their bodies.

Let them compare! Let them worry over you! Let them think it strange that you are not always wanting to go out and yet are perfectly happy! If it is allowed without you believing you need to fix it - then nothing touches you!

You do not have to accept negativity. The way you word it seems as if you process it internally as negativity, dislike it, and then try to accept it, whilst at the same time countering it with positive thinking? Instead, just stop fighting anything. You don’t have to call anything positive or negative. See how it feels. Next time you experience the voice of your mum or dad in your head, whether they are speaking to you or you are just thinking whilst alone - just don’t fight. Relax from interpreting. A habitual resistance or discomfort may arise inside you - but don’t bother fighting that either. See how it feels. This does not arrest you from ever taking action or saying anything, but it allows for more space to open up inside. Whatever you wish to judge, interpret, analyse or fix will always seem to blow up in front of you - it will get bigger and seem more important. If you don’t take it on yourself to be responsible for what you perceive, then it tends to lose its potency.

You are not responsible for your parents. Even your own reactions are not your responsibility, since they arise of their own accord. If you move in your own way, from your own heart, the words of others will lose their grip. The threat that you will never have a peaceful life is not something to believe in. You may find it becomes quite the opposite. Once you stop fighting with negativity, in yourself or from another, the negativity can not stay alive. It needs conflict to survive, negativity always needs something to oppose it. Don’t try to fix anyone’s negativity, it is not your duty - how could it be?

Finally, there is no need to condemn anyone in this. Usually if someone, particularly a loved one, expresses negativity or criticism towards you - if you find yourself upset by it, it simply shows that you believe it as well, perhaps without you knowing. It just shows what you still believe about yourself. If you had blue hair and your mum said “I hate your red hair”, then the statement would just seem silly. But if she said “I really hate your blue hair”, then perhaps this would create a discomfort inside - merely showing there is an insecurity that my hair looks bad. This is a trivial example, but I hope you see what I mean. Other people often act as mirrors, showing us what we may still secretly believe about ourselves. If not, then their words will have little meaning.

Another thing to experiment with, next time you are speaking, or even arguing with a parent, is this - who are they speaking about? What exactly are they so upset about? If you ask yourself this, you may see that the person is arguing with their idea of who they think you are. They assign you with a mental label and an attached story, and then complain about it. But since you can not see their mental projection, you think it is about you.

It is good sometimes to just be tired of it all. Let that be. It means you will no longer have time for nonsense or negativity. If you give up fighting with yourself, trying to figure yourself out, then you may find the people around you shifting with you. But don’t look to anyone else for that. If you look to anyone else for approval, you will always feel like a slave. See the futility of trying to please anyone, especially when they are never pleased for long. It is a great blessing if you feel that whatever you do is never enough for your parents, since it is evidence that your efforts to please are no longer needed. It is a liberation!

A final thing to say, although I feel as if I have basically just been saying the same thing in different ways - is that this isn’t as personal as it seems. Negativity in people comes from their own pains and fears, or from the pains and fears of others that get passed on to them. It is all energy, appearing to be personal. Give up assigning any identity to your parents, see how much suffering is merely a creation of concepts and mental labels.

Of course things can still be said, even flare-ups may occur, but don’t expect anyone to understand you, or even support you. Why should they? Why should anyone ever approve or think anything of you? No one owes you anything, and you don’t owe anyone else anything. Some fear may come up over this at first, but it will pass, and pass quicker if you don’t fight it.

So to sum up - the worst part is believing that the parents should be supportive, should be less controlling, or should be different to how they already are. Why should they? If you don’t create an ideal way for them to be, if you don’t place your own expectations on them, then if they do this to you, it will not seem like much at all. This is where the saying “do unto others as you would do unto yourself” really takes on a deeper meaning.

Don’t bother judging yourself. Sometimes “losing it” can be a great thing to happen. You don’t have to give yourself any rules on how to act. Sometimes you may obey, sometimes you may not. Sometimes you may laugh with them, sometimes you may cry. Sometimes you may be silent, another time might start shouting. 

Ultimately, everyone is doing what they think is best. Let them be as they are, and any action (if even required), can emerge from there.

I realise I have written a huge reply, but if you wish to ask anything else, feel free to comment below,

All the best,

Adam

Home › Blog › Peace Amongst Negative Family Members

Home › Emotional Wellness › Peace Amongst Negative Family Members