I want to tell you the story of Alexis and how she transformed the relationship with her mother. Alexis is 31 years old, she lives in a metropolitan city, a few hours away from her parents. She is self employed and in a loosely committed relationship.
All of this lets her mother worry. Well, worry is nicely said. Whenever Alexis comes to visit her parents, her mother meets her with a series of “how? why? couldn’t you? you should not…!”. Alexis in turn feels upset, unseen and like a little child, who does not know how to defend herself. The truth is, while Alexis is generally quite happy with her life, there are aspects where she wonders, if it’s really what she wants. Through the stream of her mother’s worries and accusations, Alexis finds herself defending these aspects of her life, while she is at her parents house. When she gets home though, she often feels confused because her own doubts are now twistedly enhanced through the worries and “wrongs” her mother put on her. Alexis feels exhausted and angry, because whenever she tries to talk to her mother about it, they end up in a fight. She actually wants a good and authentic relationship with her mother, but she has no idea, if that will ever be possible.
This dynamic repeats itself every few months when Alexis visits her parents. Until Alexis decides something is going to change. And this “something” is the only thing Alexis has control over: her own perspective of the situation, her own feelings and thoughts.
Alexis knows that she has to take charge of her own feelings and behavior. She realizes that she actually falls into the role of a teenage child whenever she goes to visit her mother, feeling misunderstood, defensive and feisty. This does not at all reflect how she would like to feel and react as the adult person that she is. Alexis opens herself up to the perspective that her mother acts out of love. That all the worries and accusations are fueled by the wish of a good life for her daughter and the worry that she as a mother is something wrong, if she does not constantly push her child into a different direction. Alexis is willing to focus on this broader perspective, rather than on her mother’s hurtful words. Alexis is willing to let go. To let go of making her mother understand, to let go of the wish for approval, to let go of making her mother responsible for how she feels about her own life.
From this perspective the adult response to her mother’s worries and accusations sound more like: “Mother, I know you love me and you say this out of worry. I am an adult and make my own decisions about what is best for me and my life. And I am actually quite happy and proud of where I am in life.”
Period. Not going into a discussion, no need for convincing. Feeling ok with herself and letting her mother know respectfully.
This feels so much better to Alexis that she is willing to try it out. It takes some practice and lots of self love to meet her parents in this manner. Yet, this is who Alexis truly is and soon enough it’s naturally how she presents herself to her parents.
In the meantime a lot of changes happen in Alexis life. She gains confidence in her social and business interactions, exciting business opportunities appear in her life, she makes new friends. In general she has become a much more happy, excited and confident person.
Alexis experiences the power of choosing to feel good and focusing on things going right.
When Alexis visits her parent’s again, it makes her sad to hear her mother worrying and complaining about what’s going on in her own life, neighbors life and the world in general. And then Alexis notices it: In the midst of worries and complains that are not at all directed at Alexis, her mother acknowledges how happy Alexis seems, and that she is proud of her career development.
Alexis mother can not help but focus on the things that are going right in Alexis life!
This is a drastic change in Alexis and her mother’s relationship. There are still things her mom does not approve of, yet fighting over that is no longer the basis of their interactions. Alexis is confident that their relationship will continuously evolve and she is willing to do her part by meeting her mother as the person she wants to be seen as.
This story evolved over a period of the past 9 months of my coaching relationship with Alexis.
This is a beautiful example of why I love what I do. With her permission I am telling you this story as an example of how seemingly stuck relationships can shift. Once you open yourself up to a change of perspective and focus on what you would like the relationship to be like, anything is possible.