Sometimes it can be very hard work to be brought together with relatives and acquaintances that we don’t see from one year to the next.
They are the way they are and we react the way we react. Changing the way they are would be quite a challenge. They have had a lifetime’s practice at being themselves. But our responses, because they are ours, are much easier to change … if you know what to do.
It’s easy to believe that our difficulties are because of what they say and do. It’s their fault. If only they didn’t say or do those things it would be fine. It’s not just about what they do. Think for a moment about someone who you find difficult to be with. Do you get the same reactions if they were there in person? You probably get at least a hint of the feelings that you get when they are there in person.
That’s because you have a representation of that person in your head, a collection of ideas, images and memories that you use to think about them when they are not there.
It has to be this way, if you didn’t have a representation of people how would you be able to think about them when they aren’t there? When you are buying a surprise present for someone you have to have an idea of what they like and how they are going to respond if you are to stand a chance of making a good choice.
If our representations of people trigger happy feelings there is not usually a problem. If our representations of someone triggers difficult feelings then just thinking about them is a problem.
We tend to react to our ideas of people rather than the people themselves. We react to what we think they are like rather than what they are really like. It’s much easier for us to relate to our ideas about someone than the person themselves.
This is unfortunate, because they are doing the same thing with us!
So ‘Uncle Bob’ thinks you are a wet, wishy washy liberal and you think Uncle Bob is a blinkered fascist. Battle lines are drawn and when the familial bonds wear thin battle starts and both of you suffer. It does’t have to be that way. You don’t have to wait for Uncle Bob to see the light and start reading The Guardian and campaigning for gay rights to feel differently about him.
You can change the way that you react to Uncle Bob, respond in a different way and save yourself a great deal of suffering.
How to update your reactions to other people.
- Reduce the reactions to other people. If the thought of the person causes you to cringe or be annoyed then you can change the way you react. Use your technique of choice to reduce the effect of those triggers.
- Reducing your reactions lets you become a more dispassionate observer of the other person. Once our main reactions are changed it’s possible to change the way that you view the other person. If we step out of our own point of view and look on with a more compassionate detachment, it’s possible to see things differently.
- If appropriate it’s possible to step into the other person’s point of view, see the world from their eyes (even more sobering, see yourself through their eyes). Seeing the world through their eyes can help you update your opinions and ideas about them.
With less reactivity and an updated understanding of the other person it’s possible to respond in much more resourceful ways to them, which in turn will make it much easier to be with them.
Will you like them? will you find new respect and admiration for Uncle Bob and his disagreeable ideas Maybe, maybe not, but you will find him a lot easier to be with. A little peace and understanding for you in this time of peace and understanding.
To learn an EFT based approach to this process come to the EFT Café on Wednesday 8th December at St Oswald’s Hospice Teaching Centre in Gosforth between 7pm and 9pm cost just £10.Image courtesy of somegeekintn