Here’s an email I got from Sally back in September:
“There is one question I have for you – how do you handle family member(s) and a partner who have ways to destroy your confidence levels? Growing up, I was an over-weight girl and my Mom and sister put me down a lot, but I was not afraid to have fun & express myself and had lots of friends. Nowadays, I’m in much better shape, but I keep to myself – I don’t do anything but go to work & school (no time and no REAL friends to be with) and it seems my partner, my sister & mom still have a way to bring me down. How can I overcome this?”
– Sally in Boston
Anything to do with family is a really tough one, because at the end of the day there’s only so far you can go. You can’t choose your family, so with that has to come a certain amount of acceptance. It sounds like you’ve had a tough time growing up and have had to put up with a lot of negativity. Good for you for seeing that this doesn’t have to define you and that you can have something better for yourself – I can’t emphasise enough how important that is.
You know, if you’re told enough times that you’re not good enough you might start to believe it one day. What I can tell you without doubt is that you are better and more resourceful than you know. What your partner, Mom and sister say and do is just plain wrong.
Do they know how much their behaviour is affecting you? It’s possible that because they don’t know how you’re feeling that they assume their behaviour is okay. If it’s damaging your sense of self their behaviour is not okay.
Your responses to others’ behaviour teaches them what is and isn’t acceptable. If these people have learned previously that it’s acceptable to do what they’re doing, then it’s time for you to let them know that it isn’t what you expect anymore, and that you deserve to be treated with respect.
It may be that you’ve gone down that road and things are still the same. In that case it really turns into two questions – “How else can I turn this around?” and “What am I prepared to do to turn things around?”
It starts with you, and perhaps the biggest question you need to answer is “What are the reasons I’ve chosen a partner who puts me down and why do I tolerate how my Mom and sister treat me?”
Sally sent me an update recently:
“Thank you for thinking of me. I think there are a lot of people who can relate to me & my situation. I can honesty say I am not the same person who wrote you a few months ago. My energy level has increased, my confidence levels have increased. I know I have no control of other people & what they say and do but I can control how it affects me. I believe the way they treat others is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. No one deserves to be degraded by another. We are all flesh & blood. No one is more superior than another. Some people might be richer, skinnier or more beautiful but it doesn’t make them a better person. Some people might have nothing…..(material)…and still have everything.
You might feel like someone has control of your life but as soon as you realize that when you look in that mirror & it’s only you…it’s your life…..you can make the first step in taking control of your life. Only you can make it happen.”
Nicely done Sally.