“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” Carl Gustav Jung
For years, I convinced myself I’d have time and energy to accomplish something impressive if only my family would get better. I blamed my lack of motivation and creativity on their issues. I imagined what I’d do when I was out from under the pressure and concern I had for my husband, my children, my parents, and my sibling.
That’s a lot of people to worry about.
If only my husband quit smoking, went into business for himself, took off additional time. If only he learned to relax. If only he’d listen to my suggestions about straightening out his life, our marriage, and our backyard fence.
If only my son and daughter learned to keep up with their belongings, take responsibility, express gratitude. If only they’d do their homework, care about school, score a soccer goal or a point in tennis. If only they’d find the right place to live, the high paying job, the perfect marriage partner.
If only my family of origin celebrated new ideas instead of being afraid of them. If only they talked about something besides weather and health problems. If only they laughed and went outside sometimes.
With my husband, I gave full commentaries about the dangers of cigarettes, making healthy choices, and communication.
With my kids, I helped find keys and shoes and half-finished job applications stuck under cushions. I advised about homework, friendship, and courtship.
With my family of origin, I changed the topic of conversations so I’d be comfortable and told stories that weren’t funny.
I understand now why I felt stuck.
I counseled my family, but didn’t go into a counseling career like I planned. I talked about pursuing a career in inspirational speaking, but I was talked out at home. I dreamed about writing a book, but determined it was more important for my family to realize their dreams.
When I heard about a friend’s outburst after a mutual friend gave her advice, I laughed because she could have been talking to me. I’d distracted myself from my own life (again) by hoping family would get better. She said, “Your children will get better when you get better.”
“If that’s true, who needs to get better for me?” I asked. I was “sort of” joking.
I figured I could blame others for a few more years or I could get better by finally getting my own life. I did some of both.
In the meantime, my husband and children got better before I did. They also got their own lives before I did, which, as focused as I was on them, didn’t surprise me. I’m still taking some credit for their betterment, though.
I like to think I’ve helped them and me get better since giving up my habit of dabbling in their lives. And since #GettingMyOwnLife #whileLovingthePeopleinIt. And since writing about it.
I’d love to hear from you about how you can get better so your family will get better. Ideas from you help all of us.
In This Together,
Unless something pressing comes along (sometimes I have to blog on a topic before I can move on), my next blog post will be about setting Boundaries and why they’re good and necessary.
Thanks for the images, Pixabay.com.