SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim shares how to forgive others and establish good boundaries to protect yourself a family member's bad behavior.
In response to my article on forgiveness last week, some readers have asked me to address forgiveness when the offender has what may be considered narcissistic behavior traits. These readers described some toxic behavior that should not be tolerated.
Having said that, you still want to forgive these people, (I will explain how), but that doesn't mean you should allow or subject yourself to their toxic behavior. Many people who have tolerated toxic behavior from family members for a long time can’t see how unacceptable the behavior is. They may start to think it’s normal because it’s normal in their family.
Here are some behaviors that may fall into this category:
- Name calling
- Emotional harassment and cruelty
- Yelling and swearing
- Destructive criticism
- Physical or seuxal abuse of any kind
- Put downs and belittling you
- Ridicule and shaming how you look or dress
- Refuse to leave your personal space or let you leave
- For spouses: Being forced or obligated sexually when you don’t want to
- Blaming all fights and arguments on you, never owning any wrongdoing
- Holding grudges and always bringing up the past
- Intentionally making you feel uncomfortable
- Restricting your freedom
- Destructive jealousy
- Ignoring you, cold shoulder or refusal to talk to you for days or weeks
- Intimidating or threatening you
- Acting out violently
- Verbal intimidation
Having boundaries and refusing to participate in activities or allow relationships where these behaviors occur is healthy and wise. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you trust them or are willing to spend time with them. If their behavior is destructive to you in any way, them you should decline to be around them.
You should still forgive them though. This means you will harbor no hate, anger, judgment, fear or resentment about them anymore. This means you have chosen to accept where and who they are, and place their fate in a higher power's hands. You can walk away from the prison of hate and pain and free yourself from any negative emotion toward this person.
Forgiveness is about letting them be a struggling, scared student in the classroom of life, just like you. Forgiveness means giving up judgment and seeing all people as having the same intrinsic worth, no matter what they do. This person is not less than you, they are just experiencing a different classroom journey than yours. They have signed up for different lessons and you can send blessings and love their way without actually spending time with them. I call this loving them from afar.
Often, this is the loving choice you must make.
If this person is someone you are forced to spend time with this may become harder. You will need to build a force field of trust and love around you to protect yourself as you interact with them.
This force field is built of trust that nothing they say or do can diminish your value and nothing they say or do can ruin your day, week or life journey. Whatever obstacles they create for you today are the lessons that can help you grow and learn. Trusting these two things will make you bulletproof to bad behavior.
Imagine they're shooting poisoned arrows your way but your force field of trust and love protects you, and the arrows just bounce off. Make sure you leave the arrows on the ground and don't pick them up and hurt yourself with them. Sometimes we do this. We may keep thinking about and repeating the insult in our mind, ruminating on it again and again. We may hang on to these insults for days or even years. This is self-inflicted pain.
Let their toxic words and behaviors bounce off. Don’t let them have the power to destroy your peace. Choose to see everything that happens as here to serve you. Every experience can help you become stronger, wiser and more loving.
Choosing a mindset this mature, wise and loving will take commitment and practice. Your ego may resist because it prefers judging, gossip, anger, the moral high ground and holding grudges. Resist the urge to let your ego go takeover.
Being a forgiving person does not mean allowing others to mistreat us. It means we don’t let their mistreatment rob us of our peace.
You can do this.
Last week's LIFEadvice:
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