It’s that time of year where we sit around the table with family and friends, reflect on what we feel grateful for, and share a massive meal literally filling our tummies with gratitude (or at least that’s how I know Kavita, today’s Blog Babysitter and I see it!)
But when it comes to our relationships with our parents, step parents, and extended family, does this time of year also fill you with anxiety?
If you’re single you might be dreading having to spend another Thanksgiving without someone by your side and having to hear comments like, “Are you dating anyone? Oh, I am so surprised – you’re a catch!”
Or you might be dreading having to hear your mom make a comment about your outfit or dad make some off-color comment to your husband or kids.
My dear friend, Kavita Patel is here to share her secrets for surviving the holidays and how to overcome the anxiety you may be feeling leading up to them.
Here’s what I want you to know.
The way we relate to our parents is critical to so much in our lives, especially when it comes to love.
If there is something about your love life that is leaving you feeling confused, unfulfilled, or frustrated, the root to that discontent is because of how you felt loved and saw love when you were younger by your parents or stepparents.
And the holidays can definitely trigger those experiences. It is the common thread between all of us. Even if you love this time of year, and love spending time with family, there is something we all dread when it comes to interacting with our parents.
If in your love life right now you are afraid of settling in some way, afraid you will never find the right person, afraid of picking the wrong partner, or feeling pretty misunderstood and alone in your relationship, then these fears are rooted in some experience around love you had when you were younger with your parents.
To help you with this, Sarah asked me to share my Love Type Quiz that will help you really understand and FEEL what I mean and what we can do to build stronger relationships with our parents, and hence the other people in our lives that we love.
I will quickly share the 4 Types with you now but you can click here to download the entire quiz and further explanations to help you dig deeper.
Breaking this down:
1. The first question you can ask yourself to determine your type is: “How connected do you feel to your mom and dad? Be honest with yourself.”
This can be a difficult question so really get honest with how you feel. Recognize that it might be an answer that is difficult to admit.
If you are adopted and never really knew your parents, or never knew your mom and or dad, then reflect on your male and female role models while growing up.
Are you the “The Nurturer”?
If you’re a nurturer you likely had a great relationship with mom but a not so great relationship with dad.
With men, you are typically the giver, always going “above and beyond”, but sometimes to a fault without even realizing it. You want to be taken care of, but find yourself with men who feel like they take more than they give, or don’t give equally. Mothering men is also a characteristic of The Nurturer.
Are you “The Doubter”?
If you’re in a place where you’re not really connected with either of your parents and you feel pretty distant with both of them, you’re likely a bit of a doubter.
There is a way that you think it’s always really difficult to be in a relationship so what’s the point? You believe most relationships just lead to heartbreak.
If you’re in a relationship, you likely haven’t fully let the man you’re with in, or find small ways to doubt, even if these feelings are never expressed.
Are you “The Fixer”?
The fixer is when you have a great relationship with your dad and you have him up on a pedestal, and your relationship with your mom is not as close.
What you have the tendency to do is see a man in front of you and you see all his untapped potential. Then you turn him into a project. You try to fix him. You try to change him.
This is like pushing him or challenging him to be a better version of himself – but when he’s not asking for help. This causes the men you’re with to not feel loved and accepted 100%.
Are you “The Idealist”?
As the idealizer, you have a great relationship with your mom and your dad. They’re likely still together.
In your mind, relationships have a high bar. There is a way they need to look perfect and if they don’t then the man just isn’t right.
If you’re single, you may be on a first date and you’re trying to figure out if he’s the one or not. You’re not really giving yourself space to get to know the person and understand him and reveal who you are.
If you’re in a relationship, you may feel an intense amount of strain the minute something goes wrong with the man you’re with. You may put a ton of pressure on yourself (and him) to reach certain milestones or “check marks” in your relationship.
2. Know that no Type is better than the other.
Everyone’s got blocks to love from when they were younger.
It’s not about one being better or another being harder to change. This exercise is about releasing the blocks you have by balancing out your relationships with your parents.
You allow yourself to see love differently, break patterns, and deepen your connections to yourself and others.
3. What do you do once you have identified your closest type?
I’d like to share a bit of my story as an example.
Over 15 years, my husband Hemal and I have gone from break-up to make-up to marriage, then close to divorce in the first 2 years.
It brings tears to my eyes as I write this because the kind of love we share now is so profound; 4 years ago I couldn’t even imagine this kind of love was possible.
But I used to be “The Fixer”. I was constantly trying to get Hemal to change. I wanted him to be more social, more cultured, more religious.
Almost everyday we were in some sort of argument because of that.
In my subconscious, I had my Dad up on a pedestal.
If someone were to ask me about my relationship with my Dad I would have a glowing review. Of course I knew he had flaws, but overall I really admired him.
So in my relationship with Hemal, he was constantly being compared to my Dad. And guess what? My dad was social, spiritual, and cultured.
Now I love my Mom very much, and when I was growing up my relationship with her would sometimes get difficult. But when I realized my relationship with my parents was causing all this strain with Hemal, I started to try to really understand my Mom.
I saw how difficult at times it was for her to handle my Dad and why. What she had experienced in her childhood caused her to react with my Dad in certain ways. I didn’t get that until I asked her questions about it.
When I could see both my Mom and Dad on equal ground, and as humans with flaws, that is when my relationship with Hemal completely and naturally transformed.
Now it’s your turn.
My parents are still together, but it doesn’t matter if yours were divorced when you were young, were never together, or you never knew one parent.
There is a way they are playing a role in your love life right now and it is important to start to make those connections. Also, I gave you an example of me being in a relationship, but this all holds true if you are also single.
Getting curious on Thanksgiving.
What I would like you to do while you are with your family, is GET CURIOUS.
Ask Mom, Dad, step parents, and grandparents questions about their past. Stories of how they were raised. About how they felt when they were children.
We often operate like we know it ALL when it comes to understanding our families. Truth is we know very little and we ASSUME a lot.
I know there have been lots of ways you have been deeply hurt, disappointed, misunderstood, and even felt completely unloved by your family, so feeling grateful for them can be hard.
But you wouldn’t exist without them.
I want you to be on a mission to FEEL their love in the way they are trying to express it, and often the gap between KNOWING and FEELING our families love is HUGE. The only bridge is understanding and compassion.
I promise you will start to see them differently and through the process the way YOU approach love and relationships will deeply and profoundly shift.
This is for YOU. You can do it.