OUR MOODS HAVE a significant impact on
our health and our ability to make sound decisions. When something
consistently alters your mood for the worse, its bad for
you. And whatever puts you in a bad mood is bad for your spouse
and kids too, because your moods are contagious.
The bad moods of many people are often
caused by one of their relatives Mom, Dad, a brother or
sister, an in-law. The trouble is, we tend to put up with lousy
behavior from a relative behavior we would never tolerate
in our spouse or children or in our friends. We dont speak
up. We feel that we have to put up with it because they
are family. But we dont.
There is no law that says you have to stay
on good terms with a person just because hes a relative.
You dont. And trying to stay on good terms might bring
you down and, by contagion, put your spouse and children in a
bad mood often enough to affect their health and their ability
to get along with others.
Its only a matter of luck whether
your relatives can also be your friends. If you didnt get
lucky, dont worry about it. You have your spouse and kids
to take care of. And there are plenty of people other than your
relatives you can have for friends people who will treat
Should you write off a relative who brings
you down? No. Theres a better way. Simply follow these
1. Be honest
2. Dont judge
THESE TWO WILL help you clean up a relationship.
Those who bring you down will tend to gradually remove themselves
voluntarily from your life.
The truth is, when someone is bringing
us down regularly, we are collaborating in the process
by withholding honest statements. For example: Would you
please call me later? Im busy right now. We dont
say stuff like that because were trying to be polite. We
dont want to be rude. But whatever the reason we have for
withholding honest communication, hiding the truth only digs
us deeper and deeper into the mess.
The way out is with straightforward information,
such as the following: I dont really feel we should
talk about him behind his back. That question kind
of makes me uncomfortable. I dont want you
to visit. I think you drink too much and I dont
want my kids to be around it. Simple, honest communication
is all you need.
Some honest statements may seem unnecessarily
harsh. But those are the kind of things you need to say sometimes
if you want to protect your psychological and physical health
and that of your spouse and kids. The problem is we sometimes
dont have enough courage to say those things until we are
really mad. They seem so harsh, youd think youd have
to be angry to say them. But you dont. You dont even
have to think the person is wrong. In fact, thats the other
half it: Restrain yourself from judging the person. If you judge
your relative and make him wrong, you hurt him and yourself,
and thats unnecessary. You can speak honestly without judgment.
It may take some practice, but you can do it. Concentrate on
it. Memorize those two rules. Chant them to yourself when youre
visiting with the person or talking to them over the phone. Be
honest gently, without judgment.
So the way to deal with a relative who
puts you in a bad mood is to let him be the way he is while also
taking care of yourself by being honest. Remind yourself that
if you had similar upbringing and genetics, you might very well
be like him, so theres no justification for writing him
off as a bad person. You dont know how he came to be that
way and you dont know his motives. All you really know
is he brings you down.
Concern yourself with being honest
without judgment and the honesty will take care of your
situation for you. Your relative will either respond to your
honesty well and your relationship will improve, or he wont
like your honesty he wont want to be around you
and he will voluntarily phase you out of his
life. Either way, youre better off. It may be a little
rough for awhile, but you and your spouse and your children will
come out on the other side healthier and happier.
Clean up relationships by being