“Can you fix my brother?”
If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked some form of this question.
It also comes out like this:
“I wish my sister was less entitled—doesn’t she understand all that I do?”
“It’s driving me crazy. Can you make my parents retire?”
“My brothers’ kids should be more appreciative/harder working/more respectful…”
The list goes on.
People stop me at parties, on airplanes, and at networking events. Their voice gets quiet and low, and they stand closer to me as they express their frustration and disappointment related to their family members. They think they are alone in their experience, and often awkwardly chuckle as they share their experience. Their thoughts are clearly affecting them and their relationships. “Can you just fix them please?”
If they knew how pervasive this question was, and how relatively easy it was to feel better, I would get this question much less, my clients would have much better relationships with their loved ones, and their stress level would dramatically drop.
Here it is: we can’t control others.
We can’t force our brothers, parents, sisters, nieces, and nephews to do what we want them to do and be who we want them to be—it just doesn’t work. No one likes to be told what to do, or to be told that the way they are living their life is wrong.
So what would happen if you just let them be who they are? Even just love them as they are? Assume they aren’t going to change?
I know what you are thinking—“Ellie, they are hurting themselves.” “They are squandering their money.” “They aren’t living up to the family legacy.”
I get it. Truly I do. I have experienced these thoughts myself.
Here’s the thing: When you let adults live their life as they want to live it, the pressure YOU experience while wanting them to be something different disappears. Your shoulders relax. Your stomach unclenches. You breathe easier. As your mindset improves, and so does your relationship with them.
When I realized I could never change my mom, everything changed with our relationship. We went from always being combative, to have a much more loving and respectful relationship. She didn’t change. I did. I stopped thinking I could change her, and because I dropped the judgment, we were able to focus on all the values we did share.
As you let go of your judgment, you create a new relationship based on love and respect. Respect that even though they may not be living their life as you would, they are still family.
There still may be consequences to their behavior, just as there are consequences to yours. But you can only control YOUR behavior and take responsibility for YOUR thoughts and actions. And taking back that control for yourself feels so good.
P.S. Need help figuring out a family relationship and how to get your power back? I can help. Sign up here for a free coaching call with me today.