Monday, January 24, 2011

What Can You REALLY Change?

Last week, one of the callers to my radio show (listen to the podcast here or here) talked about dealing with a mother-in law (who is mentally ill), who, frankly, lies about what's going on in her life, what people have said and done to her. The mother-in-law then requests certain treatment based on these falsehoods.

That's one of life's icky situations, the kind for which there is no good answer. Maybe there are some less bad answers, but certainly no good ones. Thinking about it, there are really three options here, and we'll take each of these in turn:
  1. Leave the situation
  2. Change the situation
  3. Change yourself
 1) Leave the situation - Taking everything into consideration, is putting up with the situation worse than leaving? I don't know the caller's situation, but maybe she has a happy marriage, and her mother-in-law is the one fly in the ointment. Or maybe she has young children with her husband, and mostly, things are okay. In these cases, leaving makes no sense. (I'm guessing this is the worst thing going on in her life, because you don't call a radio show about #10 on your list of problems.)

2) Change the situation - You can't change someone else's mental illness.So that's out.

3) Change yourself - You are always in charge of your own actions and reactions. That's the ticket! You can pinpoint specifically what makes the situation hard for you, or exactly what triggers your emotional reactions, and then work with that. There are a million ways to work with your own emotional landscape, from affirmations to keep you pointed in the right direction to hypnotic processes to reshape internal paths away from the quicksands of childhood imprints to anchors to keep you focused in present reality rather than getting sucked into the past.

You may know a few of these tools -- you just have to remember to use them! And if you don't have tools that work for you, call me at 888-4-hollis (888-446-5547)! I can help.

1 comment:

ethanhay said...

Hollis, thank you once again for your excellent personal advice. I listened to this program and your ability to get to the root of the problem was like a flash of lightning. Clear and enlightening.

Your gift is in giving direct, clearly-focussed insight, this time showing how to separate out unworkable situations and distill workable alternatives in a clean, clear crisp way that makes easy sense. Your path through the trees leaves indelible bread-crumbs anyone can follow.

It is not easy in close relationships to keep a sense of critical awareness. I often need to rely on my emotional needs or gut instinct even when it does not seem to make sense; yet eventually, the path clears and I see my "gut" was giving clear signals knowing which way to go even when I could not "see for the trees." "It" (this sense) never lies, yet it takes years and a lot of courage to learn how to trust it.

Thank you for the gift of courage, in finding the right path when emotions are being played by falsehood.

- Ethan Hay, Sausalito, CA