The Cure for Dealing With Irrational Relatives

Two days ago, I struck up a conversation at a restaurant with Judy, a woman who, like me, was waiting for a takeout order. She had traveled a thousand miles to Minneapolis to care for her ailing elderly father. As we talked further, she confessed that a family member had been treating her harshly and unfairly, which was tying her stomach up in knots. She was agonizing over whether she should talk to this person and if so, what she could say to try to make things better.

Judy  was open to my suggestions, so I explained that when someone is acting irrationally and illogically, anything you do in response, from ignoring them to attempting a quiet discussion to angrily confronting them, will only make things worse. No matter how honorable your intentions, engaging an irrational person is akin to throwing logs on the fire. You’re feeding that energy exactly what it wants and needs.

I told her that it was a big mistake to take such irrational behavior personally, that it wasn’t about her at all, and that the only response that could bring her peace was to send love to the person who was treating her badly. As I wrote in an earlier post about turning adversaries into allies, the loving energy you send to another person has a healing effect, even if you don’t see any outward evidence of it.

I advised Judy not to rely on her own limited supply of love, but to simply open her heart to accept the inexhaustible divine energy that surrounds us in every moment. And because she would be serving as a channel to bring in and redirect that healing energy, she would be energized and healed as well.

Ultimately, by serving as an instrument of divine love, we serve the highest good of everyone involved, including ourselves. As I wrote in an earlier post about choosing love, in every encounter we have with another human being, that person is either offering love or in need of love.

Deep down even the most hardened criminal is starving for the same thing that motivates the innocent baby: Love and acceptance.
Lily Fairchilde

Judy also mentioned that caring for her father had taught her whole new levels of love and compassion. I pointed out that her father’s illness could thus be reframed as a gift to her. The thought startled her, but she embraced it at once.

Judy’s transformation was immediate and genuine. In just ten or twelve minutes, she had moved from anxiety and despair  to gratitude and peacefulness. It was wonderful to see her make such a shift through the simple but powerful act of reframing.

It my be difficult to accept, but we cannot change people. All we can do is accept them as they are. If that is too difficult, then we have to at least accept that they are who they are and abandon any efforts to change them.

The choice is up to you. Choose fear, and peace remains a stranger. Choose love, and peace gathers you tenderly in its arms.

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.
Carlos Castaneda

Finally, click here to learn the “Peace and Harmony” prayer, which can be helpful to anyone wishing to heal a relationship of any kind.

Click here to view all my posts about relationships.


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4 Responses to “The Cure for Dealing With Irrational Relatives”

  1. ArrVee Says:

    “Judy’s transformation was immediate and genuine. In just ten or twelve minutes, she had moved from anxiety and despair to gratitude and peacefulness.”

    I’m sure many of your readers get the same type of benefit from your posts. I include myself as a beneficiary, but since I’m still working on it, I would rather put it in deeds than write about it here – suffice to say that you have brought these things to my attention.

  2. Kim Wencl Says:

    Wow – lucky Judy – to have met you and received what she really needed!

  3. Deb Says:

    Nice. You didn’t mention what the encounter with Judy did for you, but I’m sure your step was lighter as you left the take-out line. Thanks, Phil!

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yes, it feels good to encourage and inspire others who are open to being encouraged and inspired. Thanks, Deb!

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