There it is, waiting for you to step out and fall through the hole in the floor, gently disguised by a small decorative rug. It looks inviting enough, but bam, there you are falling and landing with a big emotional bruise on the floor of the room below. That is what it can feel like when you calmly approach a situation where a loved one is in turmoil.
Being middle-aged, we have enough life experience to recognize pitfalls and poor life choices so that we make better decisions, and can enjoy the fruits of our lessons, while dealing with the problems of adult children, aging parents, and aging ourselves. We do this because we value our relationships, and want to remain close and engaged, but sometimes the cost of staying close with others is too much, especially when loved ones are in turmoil. It can consume you with worry, robbing you of enjoying the life you have worked so hard to build, landing you with a hard thud on the floor of worry and fear.
After another ride on the roller coaster of emotions, leaving me battling fear and worry, I decided enough was enough! Having my happiness depend on the ups and downs of someone else’s life was not fair to me, and exhausting to say the least. But how do you maintain a close relationship with your loved ones without letting their ups and downs influence your happiness? Here are the reminders I started using that helped me cover that trap door securely:
- When you sense you are feeling fear and worry about someone, do something that occupies your attention completely that you enjoy.
- Remind yourself that it’s OK to let go of someone you love, letting them make their own mistakes. They will learn just as you did.
- Remind yourself that your time in this life is limited. Your wonderful timeless spirit is occupying your body temporarily. You will move on when your body dies, so everyone and everything in your life is a gift to be enjoyed, and not controlled.
- Remind yourself that having a close relationship with someone doesn’t mean you have to know everything about them. Set limits on subjects you will talk about with certain people. You don’t have to go deep to love them deeply.
- Believe in the magic of “acting as if.” This is powerful magic! Act as if everything will be OK, even if you don’t fully believe it, things magically turn out OK. Acting carefree about someone’s situation changes the dynamic and focus between you, and helps the rough edges dissolve and vanish.
- Remind yourself of all the things that have worked out for you, and continue to work in your favor, big and small, that could’ve easily turned into a disaster. A loving universe and higher power is really on your side.