Thursday, 28 April 2016 19:43

Outlaws In!

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My feeling about in-laws was that they were outlaws.
Malcolm X

Over the last few months I've had conversations with various lovely, independent, dynamic women, who all struggle with mother-in-laws troubles. Interestingly enough, all these women are in stable, happy marriages, yet have mother-in-laws who dislike them for who they are. A quick Google search shows how common this problem is and, as anyone who has lived with the subtle put-downs and snubs of a family member will know, it's hurtful and destructive.

Talking to these women reminded me of a fabulous article I read, by Wayne Elsey, called, This is Why I Appreciate You... You matter! While in high school, the author was told by a teacher that he would never amount to anything. The article is about the lasting impact and hurt that comment caused him. The gist of the story is that words matter and what we say, can and does, impact the people around us. It's a lovely article, you can read it here.

Many of the coping mechanisms we use to deal with criticism and put-downs are directed at minimizing the impact of the hurtful words that have been said. Unfortunately, when we try to talk ourselves out of how we are feeling, we inadvertently tell ourselves that our feelings are unimportant, that we don't matter. This is where we go wrong, our feelings are important, and they do matter. We matter.

In Wayne Elsey's article, another teacher heard what had been said. She sat down with him and said, 'You matter to me and you can do anything you set your mind to.' Powerful words that struck home and changed the course of his life. Chances are, an unkind mother-in-law is not going to magically transform into a benevolent fairy god-mother who adores you, but that doesn't mean there is nothing you can do!

Freedom doesn't come from getting rid of either the difficult family member or our own feelings. It comes from staying who we are, despite what life throws at us. We cannot change other people. We cannot make people who truly dislike us, like us. In fact, it's not our job to.

Our job is take responsibility for our own actions and reactions. We CAN choose how to respond. It's within our power, to speak gently to ourselves when we are hurt. Words do matter, how we speak to ourselves as much as how we speak to others. It's good to remember, you are important and you do matter!

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Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.

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# Katie 2016-07-07 23:13
I apparently got very lucky with my in-laws. My mother-in-law is the sweetest woman and has always treated me as family, since long before my husband and I got married, and I count my blessings for her.

It's so frustrating when you don't get along with your spouse's family, or your family doesn't get along with your spouse. My parents were very critical of my husband for a long time and it was the worst feeling for both me and my husband.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-11-13 09:05
It really is awful to have tension in this relationship, it just puts a strain on everything. It must have been especially difficult to have your parents being like that when his parents were so different.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-07-07 19:30
Oh no, sorry to hear it's your granma, Nicole. That is the worst feeling, that you can do nothing right. It's funny how easily care and criticism can get confused, and even when it is well intentioned, it has the power to hurt.
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# Nicole 2016-07-07 19:24
I love this! My mother-in-law is alright. She doesn't say any mean things, but I think she believes that her son could have done better. The worst person ever in criticizing me is my grandma! She always has a comment about my marriage, my life, my home and my children! It drives me crazy!
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-07-07 19:02
I hear you RaNesha! And sometimes it's enough for it to just be okay, no great shakes but no trouble either.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-07-07 19:01
Oh Marsha, how awful! Especially when there are kids involved, it can get quite crazy and it is so sad and unnecessary.
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# Marsha 2016-07-07 18:52
I got along well with my in-laws until I got divorced lol! Without even knowing both sides of the story, they turned on me. It was hurtful but I got over it and definitely made it a point to choose how I responded to them when I saw them at my kids' functions.
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# RaNesha 2016-07-07 18:52
I love Jeff's immediate ill will against my in-laws, but there not my fav
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-07-07 15:05
It's so lovely to hear about all the good relations with in-laws, even after divorce. It seems to be particularly easy to hide real emotions when family is involved, but you are so right, Heidi, it is absolutely not healthy.
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# heidi 2016-07-07 14:56
I have never had issues with in-laws. I still talk to my in laws from my first marriage. I believe keeping your feeling stuffed down is the worst thing you can do and causes so many problems.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2016-06-02 18:53
You are one of the lucky ones! Your wife must get her grace and kindness from her parents, such a lovely thought.
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# Sam Still 2016-06-01 15:19
I'm so glad I love my in-laws. They have become my family. My parents on the other hand, are very difficult. My amazing wife handles them with such grace and kindness.
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