This was first published on KSL.COM and 10 other publications
My relationship with my adult children is not good. They are disrespectful and unkind in spite of all I have done for them. They have hurt me deeply in the past, but I forgive them, why can’t they forgive me for past mistakes? I have had so many things go wrong in my life the last few years and I just need them to understand I’m doing the best I can. How can I get them to see how their behavior isn’t right? How can I get them to stop blaming and shaming me?
(KSL readers: Please go easy on this person in the comments.)
The problem is you cannot change or fix other people. You can have a mutually validating conversation with them and really listen and validate them, after which you ask to share how you feel and ask for different behavior moving forward, but that doesn’t gaurantee they will change, and their future behavior is totally out of your control. The only person whose behavior you have any control over is yours.
The path to change or fix any situation starts with taking personal responsibility, owning your part in it, and working on your part. Often we are so wrapped up in our fear of not being good enough that we prefer to cast the blame on others. When we do this it just makes the situation worse, and no one wants to be around a person in shame and blame.
It takes a very motivated, mature and clear person to be willing to see their role in every problem, take responsibility and be willing to grow and to change. Ironically, this is the kind of person that everyone wants to be around.
We all want people in our lives who are clear, have appropriately proportionate reactions and behaviors, and who own their mistakes and apologize when they make one. We are drawn to and respect people who are strong enough to own their faults. However, too often, we see people too afraid to wear any responsibility for their actions and decisions at all, and usually their lives and relationships continue to spiral downhill.
Stop here for a minute and ask yourself an important question. As you were reading the first part of this article … were your thoughts on how others really need to own their part, or were you honestly thinking about your own behavior?
If you were already in blame mode and more focused on how the other people in your life need to read this and own their part, chances are this is a pattern in your life and you are struggling to own your part.
(If you were focused on your own behavior, you are probably good at seeing your own part. Some of you may even have the opposite problem of blaming everything on yourself and you may need to do some work on repairing your self-esteem.)
Either way, you probably have some deep fear of not being good enough. You may have had this fear most of your life and it may have created a subconscious tendency to point fingers, judge and even be angry at other people, because focusing on how bad they are quiets your own fear of failure a bit. (Or you may always point the finger at yourself. What we are shooting for here is balance.)
Please be honest with yourself about your pattern, especially if it's a tendency to point fingers. You probably don’t consciously chose to blame others though and take the victim role. You subconsciously do it. It is just the way you were programmed to see things throughout your life. The good news is, you can change it.
One of the best ways to take greater personal responsibility in your life is to realize that this situation, though it may not be all your fault, is your responsibility. Unless you take responsibility for the lesson showing up (because you apparently have something to learn in it or a way to grow from it) you won’t have any power to change it. You must own that. Though others may need to change too, your focus must stay on becoming more mature, wise, calm, balanced and loving yourself. You must work on you.
You may not like how this sounds, but the buck really does begin and end with YOU and your behavior. In every person’s life there is a time when they must step up and take responsibility for what they have created around them and for their own happiness. It is no one else’s job or responsibility to make you happy!
Look around you and take note of what is working and what isn’t working in your behavior. If being mad and angry at the kids isn’t making you happy, you might want to try something different. If telling them how horrible they are treating you isn’t making them love and respect you, you might want to gain some other skills or tools to try. If the people you love don't want to spend time with you, what behavior in you might be causing that? Where is the stress, unhappiness or imbalance in your life showing up?
What are you willing to change in yourself to create something different?
There are many ways in which you can take personal responsibility and create change in your life:
I promise you, when your children see you take personal responsibility for your part of the problems and see you learning, growing and changing, they will not only feel more open and loving towards you, but they may be more likely to look at their own bad behavior and be ready to grow too.
We all desire more connectivity, respect and a life with less conflict and confrontation. Understanding your own behavioral patterns and getting some new tools and techniques to express yourself and connect with others really can change everything.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and psychological inclination expert.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.