I clicked the call button and waited for the line to connect.
Eventually she answered.
“Hello”, I said.
The line crackled.
“Hello”, I repeated. “Can you hear me?”
“Who is this?” she enquired.
“What do you mean, who is it?” I responded, surprised.
“Oh”. Her disappointment was obvious. “It’s you.”
How many of us have experienced this with our parents?
They go through a difficult period; it triggers an event in the past that leads them to blame you for everything going wrong in their life.
With my mom, it’s the fact that I don’t live within walking distance from her. With every argument comes a reason why everyone would be better off if I were living closer.
This conversation repeats itself every few weeks, and becomes increasingly tough to deal with.
What’s the trigger with you and your parents?
Let me share with you the coping mechanisms I have when she starts guilt-tripping me, and what you can learn from them:
1 – Notice the part you play
Arguments, experiences, discussions ““ there are two sides to them all. What’s your part in this? When are you at fault and what can you do to change that?
I used to have a tendency to blame my mom for her anger and assume it was in her control. I realized that it is, but there are also certain things I can do to help her see the issue behind the insults she throws at me when she’s angry.
So ““ what part do you play in the relationship that could change for the better?
2 ““ Exercise compassion
As the children of our parents, we exist within the parent-child relationship (that is, of adult and child). When we change this to an adult-adult relationships, we also see our parents as human beings.
They’ve had experiences, relationships, joys and disappointments all their own. They also had a life well before we came into the picture.
Recognising this gives us the capacity to see that they’re human too, which means they make mistakes and are conditioned by their past.
And once we start showing compassion towards them, it becomes easier not to succumb to their guilt trips because you see the reason why they behave this way.
3 ““ Don’t make excuses for them
Compassion’s a powerful skills to have, but don’t be fooled into thinking their guilt trips are OK.
Often we over-sympathize with our parents, saying they can’t help it or they don’t have the tools that I do to deal with emotions maturely.
They know when they’re hurting you. They know which buttons to push. Don’t confuse compassion with the acceptance of hurt.
4 – Notice their patterns
When they give you guilt trips, what are they really asking for?
Do they do this when they want attention from you? Are they shouting abuse because they’re feeling hurt themselves?
Noticing when this behavior occurs also means you can help change it.
If they ignore you to get your attention, don’t give them the attention. They’ll soon learn the healthier way to get your attention is to actually ask for it!
5 ““ Set your boundaries
Take control and be clear on what you’re willing to tolerate.
You’re responsible for your own mental health. So when they’re upsetting you, communicate this to them and tell them what you will and won’t tolerate. The more you communicate with them, the more opportunity you give them to treat you the way you want to be treated.
We only have one set of parents. Not all of us get a set that can handle conflict well.
So it’s up to you to take the high road and shape the relationship positively, no matter how challenging it may be.
So give some of these methods a try. It could transform your relationship.