by Jeff Jones
Module 7 of the Authentic Life Leadership course is all about deepening connections. This module came in a very timely manner, as I have just been at home visiting with my family. My mother and I have always loved each other very much, and we also have had some big differences in how we communicate, which have ended up making for some pretty big breakdowns in our relationship.
For some time now, I’ve wanted to get more of her world when it comes to how she interacts with the rest of our close extended family. In my eyes, it appears that she pushes everyone away, and simultaneously blames them for not understanding or not caring. I see how much pain this causes everyone involved, including myself, and I feel that maybe there is something I haven’t been seeing that has her act in the way that she does. I’ve asked about this in the past, and have been met mostly with “you don’t understand”, “stay out of business that isn’t yours”, “don’t try to fix me”, or something in that vein.
Most recently when I was home, I tried framing the conversation a bit differently. I told her that I wanted to better understand why she has the relationship she does with our extended family. I told her that I had no intention of fixing her, and that I just wanted to be on the same page. While I was still met with some push-aways, she opened up just a little bit and shared some feelings that opened my eyes to her view on the situation. I saw that she felt just a little bit safer in this conversation than she had in the past. This module helped me take another step in meeting my mother where she currently is to maximize our relationship.
Because of what I learned in this course, I was able to see a bit more about this conversation from my mother's point of view. I realized that she had felt she was under attack. I was able to stay in connection and meet her where she was at. By setting context in a way that helped her to see my true intentions, we were able to have a more productive conversation.