July 31, 2021 at 5:51 pm #383818
Hi all. I’m hoping you might be able to offer a bit of clarity and some advice on how to improve my mindset when it comes to tolerance towards other people.
Basically, I’m struggling to get back into the mindset of ‘give and take’ following the ending of social distancing. To be honest, although the pandemic has been an awful thing, when we were locked down and unable to see anyone I actually really enjoyed the peace and distance from certain family members and not having to feel obligated to see anyone that I didn’t want to.
I’m at the stage though where I need to start attending certain social functions that I don’t particularly want to and I’m having a bit of a battle with my ego, which seems to be having a hard time with letting go of the solitude and peace of the past year or so. I know for the good of my valued relationships that I have to re-learn how to tolerate seeing mutual people now and again that I find abrasive and annoying, but who they love and value. For instance, I could quite happily never see my in-laws who I find quite controlling and irritating, however they are important to my husband so although I do have boundaries in place with them for my own sanity, I will have to do the right thing and see them now and again socially so as to not upset everyone. They’re not very self-aware but they’re not terrible people either, so this is very much a ‘me’ problem.
So I know I need to start practising and cultivate greater empathy and tolerance but I don’t know where to start with reacquainting myself with this. Prior to the pandemic I managed to do things I didn’t want to do without getting so worked up about it. I’m ready to do the work and want to do better with other people but it feels a bit overwhelming. Has anyone got any thoughts and advice on how to approach this please?July 31, 2021 at 8:36 pm #383856
I will read and reply to you in about 10 hours from now. I hope other members reply to you before I return.
anitaAugust 1, 2021 at 1:57 am #383864
I’m at the stage though where I need to start attending certain social functions that I don’t particularly want to
Prior to the pandemic I managed to do things I didn’t want to do without getting so worked up about it.
You mentioned your in-laws as an example of people whom you don’t necessarily want to meet, but you feel you have to, for the sake of your husband. Are there other examples? Do you feel it’s a theme in your life that you feel you are forced to do things against your will, and it causes resentment?August 1, 2021 at 4:05 am #383865
Thanks for the observation, TeaK. Yes, I think there could be a lot to that. My father was abusive growing up and didn’t allow for any self expression or assertiveness, plus my mother didn’t model any healthy assertiveness or boundaries either, so I developed the belief that I must always be a people pleaser and put others first. In the last few years I’ve really started to recognise how damaging this has been with my relationships with others and have started to really treasure my growing autonomy in adulthood with an aim to learning healthier boundaries with people.
My mother in law can be controlling in her behaviour and used to getting her own way, which is nowhere near as toxic as it was with my father but yes, when I think about it I do deeply resent it and find myself feeling a sense of injustice over even extremely minor things. I think it perhaps triggers flashbacks of being stuck at the mercy of someone else who didn’t have my best interests in mind. Maybe I need to try to compartmentalise this stuff better in my head and separate past from the present.August 1, 2021 at 4:37 am #383866
you’re welcome. If you’ve grown up with having no say and always having to obey – basically with your own will having been crushed – it’s only natural that you’d develop huge resentment, not just against your father, but everybody else, whenever you feel they want you do something against your will, and you feel unable to say No. You were unable to say No to your father too, and your mother was probably the same, accepting his bullying and doing what he said. There is a lot of anger and resentment in you, that gets easily triggered, even with extremely minor things, as you say.
The solution would be to express and release that anger in a safe environment, such as therapy. To realize that you have the right to feel angry for having been bullied and controlled like that. You also have the right to protect yourself, to stand up for yourself, to refuse to do things against your will.
Once you express your pent up anger towards your father (in a safe environment, not into his face) and give yourself the permission to refuse to do things you don’t want to, you won’t be so easily triggered by small things, you’ll have a greater tolerance, but also a greater ability to say No to things you don’t want. So it will be much easier to deal with people.
But you’d first need to deal with that old anger from childhood, and then the present will sort itself out too.
How does this sound to you?
August 1, 2021 at 7:29 am #383876
- This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by TeaK.
Social distancing/ isolation has been a relief for many people who prefer to avoid certain people, just like in your case.. and in mine.
I realized not long ago, that most of the people who annoy me, are not really annoying when I see them the way they really are. What automatically happens is that I project someone really, really annoying from my childhood (I’ll refer to that someone as X), into the not-really annoying person (Y).
To not be annoyed by Y, I have to.. peel X off of Y, and see Y for what he/ she really is. It works for me!
anitaAugust 14, 2021 at 5:08 am #384674
Thank you both very much for your responses, I’m sorry for only just getting back on here to say that!
That makes a lot of sense TeaK, thank you so much for your advice. I’ve been starting to appreciate in recent weeks how much other people’s negative responses can so often be about them and their own state of mind, however I hadn’t stopped to consider that the same applies to me! I’m not officially diagnosed but I relate to the symptoms of c-PTSD a lot and have looked into inner family systems as a form of therapy, which identifies that there are reactive parts in the brain which act as ‘protectors’ for past hurt selves. As you suggest, I think quite often when I react to something in what feels like an over the top, extreme manner it does reflect a past trauma from childhood that I need to process. I’m definitely angry at my feelings being scoffed at and invalidated by my father and I agree that working on that anger would be helpful. I couldn’t even accept anger as a normal, healthy emotion until recently (I’d always associated it with fear and rage and not allowed myself to experience it) so it’s very much a new thing to explore and focus on.
Thank you for your insight Anita, this also makes a lot of sense. I visited my in-laws the other day for the first time in months and of course, in the moment it wasn’t a terrible experience. I think having had over a year of not having to do things like that I had built such visits up in my mind as being a terrible thing, when the reality is that it’s just a boring chore which I have to get used to sparing a couple of hours for now and again. When I look at the way my mother in law is I can see how a lot of the more irritating behaviour stems from extreme anxiety on her part, so it helps to look at it from that perspective but acknowledge that I can still largely have boundaries and not have to see her too often.August 14, 2021 at 5:42 am #384675
you are welcome, and I am glad you’ve checked in! It’s great you’re aware of your tendency to get upset and overreact. So just keep observing yourself and perhaps make a pause when you feel the tension inside you rising, and take a few deep breaths. As they say, this helps you to respond rather than react impulsively.
Also, realizing that anger can also be a healthy and useful emotion is also super important. It’s okay to feel angry at people violating you and crossing your boundaries, and you have the right to protect yourself from that!
Glad to hear the visit to your in-laws went well, and that you could observe your mother-in-law and understand where her behavior is coming from. That will help you have some empathy for her, but as you said, it doesn’t mean you have to tolerate abuse – you can still set boundaries and keep a healthy distance.
I love the internal family systems therapy too, so definitely, give it a go if it resonates!August 14, 2021 at 6:08 am #384677
You are welcome. You mentioned that you “relate to the symptoms of c-PTSD a lot”.
Complex PTSD develops in response to prolonged, ongoing or repetitive exposure to traumatizing and highly stressful situations, where the individual has little or no chance of escape: most commonly in the context of childhood.
Like you, I was not diagnosed with c-PTSD (it is not a formal diagnosis in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual- 5/ DSM-5), but I can very much relate to it. If you want to share about how you relate to it, you are welcome to do so. Maybe we can share our experiences with each other.