With his intention set on creating closer family relationships, “Anthony,” my client, worked on how to respond his way out of victim-hood. With positive intentional responses, there is no relationship that can’t be made better.(Tweet That).
For the purpose of this story, a reaction is a not-so-positive way of acting that results in separation rather then reconciliation. A response, on the other hand, is based on kindness to self and to others with the intention of positive results.
Shortly after Anthony arrived at his brother “Ben’s” house, Ben told him that he would be sleeping on the pallet on the shed floor. Ben literally picked up Anthony’s duffel bag, and with Anthony, his niece “Carly,” and sister-in-law “Claire” following him, he carried it out to the shed.
Anthony told me, he was just “going with the flow as to not create friction.” But after he saw the pallet of blankets and a pillow on the floor, he felt like a victim again, “because there was a perfectly good guest room in the house.”
Before our work together, Anthony’s auto-reaction would have been to silently lie on that pallet and feel bad about how he was being treated. Or he would have over-reacted thereby looking like the one who was unkind.
Anthony remembered his intention of creating better family relationships, while respecting himself and others. (Tweet that) He picked up his duffel bag from the shed floor, and gently turned to walk towards the house, as he walked past all three of them saying, “Oh, no thank you. I am the guest; I will be sleeping in the guest room.” (The key here is the kindness in the response, and remaining kind regardless of what Ben did, or would do.)
His brother Ben, his sister-in-law Claire, and his tiny niece Carly all followed him as he stepped into the guest room, sat on the edge of the bed, and said, “This is fine, I will be comfortable here.”
Ben stood in the doorway of the guest room with his hands on his hips. His little niece was looking up at her dad as if expecting his customary explosion, as was Ben’s wife. Anthony told me, he knew in that moment that he was showing his family how to respond their way out of victim-hood with kindness. “Well, okay then,” said Ben who just turned and walked away, not bringing it up again.
The next day, Claire, his sister-in-law, commented to Anthony about how different he was, and she told him she respected him more in that moment than she ever had before.
Since that day, Anthony’s brother has reached out to him to ask “how he got so much freedom?” He too, wanted what Anthony had. It turns out that Ben, may have been shouting, “Somebody stop me,” because Ben is much happier in Anthony’s new found strength too.
I know sometimes, I still have to stop, and think of my intention, before I respond, Do you? It does become a natural response after practicing this though. When have you dealt with certain situations in a reactive way? Do you see that the relationship can be better served with an intentional response?