This is a reply to a private client who often feels left out by her husband’s extended family, particularly by one man who makes sexist comments about her and excludes her in various ways. In this case he ordered wine and asked the waitress to bring only four glasses while there were five in their party. In part of her text to me about how she was feeling (which had been validated by her sister-in-law), she said, “He puts a damper on me being me.”
Here is my long text reply!
Thank you very much for being in touch with me during this time. I’m glad you had a chance to talk with someone about it, and a woman, and someone married into the family…. And of course you’ve been in the family long enough that you are part of it too.
If this is really about your happiness and about your growth and not about being right or letting others’ limits define you, then I have a really cool turnaround for you from what you just said.
I also think that you are growing so much so fast in this process that you are at the tip of the iceberg — it would be cool to be the observer of your feelings and of different ways of looking at this during this particular trip and know that there will be plenty of time to sit down and have a conversation with your husband another time And possibly even with your brother-in-law another time.
I’m not asking you to censor yourself or not care that you are hurting; but this is about YOU being there for the part of you that is hurting this time. While you are going to ask for a negotiation and ultimately get what you want and need, this time around you can probably grow yourself more by continuing to be the observer and by putting your thoughts down on paper or sending them to me.
There would be nothing more powerful at this point than doing a Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet on him, and possibly on the family — even far more powerful than having a conversation with someone who validates your perspective.
To achieve growth and freedom and happiness I know you’re after and to see through the blind spots, you would want to be as much in your feelings and judgments and anger and hurt as possible and write it all down on a JYN — then we can do The Work on it. Or you can do The Work on it yourself — or you can NOT do the work on it and we can discuss it more in your session when you come back. Whatever shows up will be just what is needed.
It is incredibly empowering because right now the ball is in his court. You have given him a lot of power; you are telling yourself he would need to change in order for you to feel better. Know that you can come back and negotiate this stuff with him any time, but right now it’s time for you to make amends to the littlest parts of you who bought into the story of being on the outside and who no one has been taking care of ever since you were little.
I trust that this whole thing is going to get taken care of and worked out so that you will look back not too far in the future and remember when you had all these patterns going on with his family. I honestly believe as you assimilate these shifts and continue to change yourself, all of it will change, including your ability to take care of yourself in ways that don’t include pushing everyone away or shutting yourself down.
So I’m not sure if you want to hear it, but it could be super powerful for you to meditate on the turnarounds below for the rest of this week. You don’t need to necessarily see it the way the rest of the world sees it, but instead see it in a way that allows you to be truly happy and self contained, feeling supported by life no matter what, especially when life brings you something that hurts and you get to turn it into a powerful opportunity for growth and self-evolution.
Here it is:
“He puts a damper on me being me.”
Turnaround to the opposite:
“He does not put a damper on me being me.”
Turn around to the self:
“I put a damper on me.”
Turn around to the other:
“I put a damper on him.”
Find examples for how all those are true.
1) Specifically, find how he does NOT put a damper on you. Possible examples: all he’s doing is ordering four glasses. He didn’t make you not be you, or not have fun, or not pick up one of the glasses for yourself, or not ask for another glass, or see yourself as an outsider. Even if he is specifically working on leaving you out, that’s just him over there believing whatever he is believing and it doesn’t really have anything to do with you unless you react and believe it does. And of course the things we react to are perfect reflections of the meaning we are projecting onto everything from childhood adaptations and wounds. Can you actually find even one way that he keeps you from being you?
2) How are you the one who puts a damper on yourself based on what you are believing about his actions? Find specific examples of what you do to yourself that clamps you down and keeps you from having a good time and makes you believe you are on the outside, etc. We are always the ones who believe the thought that closes down our hearts. Since we are made of pure love, that is what hurts more than anything or anyone else does.
3) How are you putting a damper on him? How are you not letting him just be who he is? How might it even be that he’s walking on eggshells knowing you might get upset about something? How are you putting a damper on your connection to him by placing conditions on how he should behave and thereby are closing your heart?
It is totally, totally, totally OK not to know how to handle this just yet, but the more you move into curiosity about your own role, the more you’ll start seeing him over there and wonder who he really is without this thought that he is putting a damper on you.
Mostly it’s important for you to stay with you and feel your feelings and comfort yourself, and not leave your littlest self in his hands or anyone else’s, even your husband’s. You’re the hero you’ve been waiting for.
Not that you have to do everything to take care of yourself all the time and be completely self-sufficient… but you do need to stop telling these littlest parts of you that their wellbeing lies in the hands of someone like your brother-in-law. Let those parts of you know that you love them no matter what and they belong to you and you belong to them and there is nothing they can ever do to drive you away and you will never dampen their little spirits just because someone like your brother-in-law acts the way he acts.
Be the kind of mom to you and yourself that you would be for your kids who were bullied on the playground or upset about something. It’s not even about going and getting that bully;, it’s about listening to the child and acknowledging that they were hurt (which is why it felt so good for you to talk to that other sister-in-law). But you can do that to yourself and at the same time be saying that the ways you are hurt is an inside job also. This may not be something she would understand,but it’s far more freeing and empowering and doesn’t leave you as a victim.
Hope that wasn’t too much. It’s just that you are sitting on a gold mine here and you really are going to get free.
Even tomorrow may be a completely completely different day if part of you can take this in, or it might be the next trip or whatever, but at some point you will be able to hold onto that part of yourself, and when you lose it, you know that’s your work — not his.
You be the one that guards yourself and has an amazing trip and let nature support you and don’t let anyone take it away from you. You’ll find that you don’t even need to close your heart. We are all innocent and just believing our thoughts and having all this programming that makes us act the way we do. Knowing that, we don’t need to take ANYTHING personally.
So much love for you, Sweetie, really. I am very proud of you and excited for you that you are reaching out. 🥰
P.S. I know that’s long, but when you get time to really sit down and read it, it’s going to change lots. I have many people tell me that they read these texts over and over again and it changes everything about their situation…. It may or may not, but one woman liked it so much that she printed it out and it was five pages! Ha ha ha ha ha. This one could be one of those! It’s pretty long!
My client’s reply:
Crack me up! I didn’t count the pages…. I like the ” how am I holding my brother-in-law’s back” reversal. Will give these attention. Yes, validation is a wonderful drug.. .kinda answers the constant internal question, “Is it just me!?!” Goodnight Shawn. TY
Hey, and that’s good that you are seeing that one. Also be sure to use the exact wording. What you wrote in your earlier text and that I turned around was “He puts a damper on me being me.”
So that’s really kind of a different connotation from “I am holding my brother-in-law’s back.”
How are you in many ways truly not letting your brother-in-law be your brother-in-law?
Byron Kati used to say that egos want something; love just embraces what shows it exactly as it is.
It would be great to do a whole worksheet on your brother-in-law and what you want from him.
This can be fun if you start to realize how it’s going to revolutionize everything for you and give you back power, not so much over anyone, but just inherently you being you–and that’s a power no one can take away from you–except you.
(Wow. Even I thought that last sentence was profound. It’s amazing how this text coaching is kind of a co-creation and I am always kind of in what flows out of my mouth. When others show up, something in me rises up to meet them!).