In today’s post, I talk about my relationship with my dad. Being open can be hard, but the people I learn the most from are the ones who keep it real with me and are specific about their life. Truth is a great teacher. Personally, telling the truth is the best way for me to learn about what I’ve been through and why.
In today’s video I talk about how my relationship with my dad used to be painful. Only now is it loving and connected, but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, when I moved out of NYC back to Detroit in 2015, I had a HELL of a time. I was healing from a breakup, moved in with my parents, and dealt with a new confronting situation with my mom I’d never dealt with before. I fought them constantly and felt like I was in survival mode 24/7; I didn’t know what to do with these unfamiliar new situations. I didn’t know how to help them and help myself, so I did the next best thing: moved to Thailand for 3 months.
Now I’m clear why I needed to have the last year go down the way it did, but at the time I felt insane! Like the very foundation of my life – my family – turned into something I couldn’t connect to. When I came back from Thailand it was a full year of very hard conversations, learning to communicate and set boundaries, lots of courage and lots of tears.
Cut to a year later and my relationship with both my parents is connected and loving. I won’t say “totally” transformed because we still fall into habit patterns, but there is love and affection in places I NEVER thought there could be; I’d completely given up in certain areas. Now we laugh a lot, understand each other in new ways, and the BEST of all for me: I can be myself. I don’t feel like I need to prove myself or be a version other than the real me.
That’s why I feel strongly about my new program Freedom to Thrive and what I teach in it; the tools are THE things that helped me when I was deep in my eyeballs with fear and confusion about my family. Creating loving relationships and learning to communicate is a huge part of the program because outside of Oxygen, there’s nothing more important than my relationship to Self and then my relationship to family and friends. I bring in my own coaches and mentors to teach inside the program because I got so much help from them; they’re experts and will train us in the skills we need to create these relationships.
In today’s video, I give you two tools that helped me repair my relationship with my dad. I cry and dance in the video so get used to it.
Use these tools to work with the people closest to you; these relationships are the most intimate, but also can be the most painful to start with. It’s only now, after going through a lot of pain, that I finally learned how to feel connected to my parents. Here are the two tools:
Set Boundaries with Everyone.
I didn’t understand this when I first heard it. I got the necessity of boundaries with parents, but friends? Yes. Dogs? Yes. Grandmas? Yes. Boundaries with everyone. It sounds hardcore but you don’t have to be hard-core all the time (though you probably will be when you first start.) As you practice more, you get to know what you need better, and you become more flexible and set boundaries in your own way.
If you want a thriving relationship, you need boundaries.
Boundaries help you maintain that respect and value for your SELF.
If you don’t set practice setting boundaries, your life and relationships will suffer. You might “get along” with people in the short run, but ultimately your true self will prevail. This is coming from someone who had no boundaries, never said No, and let everyone in. Life worked for a while, until stress and anxiety set in, and life just didn’t feel good anymore. It didn’t feel good because I didn’t respect myself or my energy, which are my most precious resources.
You are valuable. Your energy and time are valuable. Boundaries help you honor that.
Drop Your Story.
For one full year, I made my dad wrong. Every conversation, I’d think, “Man, he’s selfish.” or “He just will never understand me.” I had a lot of anger and it colored our interactions.
What I needed was to let go of my stories (I had multiple) of my dad and who he was.
This was VERY HARD; I took some steps forward and LOTS of steps back.
But once I practiced dropping my stories, my attitude and energy changed. It was clear that small shifts in my behavior created powerful shifts in his behavior. Not every time, but over months, more love and reciprocity happened in our relationship.
As I stuck with it, it was powerful to recognize how I’d been stopping my own growth with my dad. I see how survival mode me was not the real me, and angry dude was not the real him. Stress, anger, and suffering is NO human being’s baseline; I strongly believe love and connection are our basic foundation; it’s who we are and want to feel.
If I can shift my relationship with my dad using these tools, I encourage you to try them if there’s a relationship in your life you want to improve. It’s do-able if you’re willing to put in the work. Be ready to get the help you need when you need it. If I can help in any way, email me and let me know – sometimes someone else can clarify things better and faster than we can for ourselves, especially when we’re confused.
Repairing my foundational relationships is what made the biggest difference to me in feeling good and whole again in 2017, and it’s what I (and my mentors) teach in Freedom to Thrive.
If you want to learn how to use these tools in your life, go to the page above and apply or email me to see if there’s something I can help you with 1:1 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most importantly, if you’re in a painful relationship or going through a hard patch with someone, help available. If you have hope and are willing to do the work, things can change that you may have given up hope on. Just keep the faith and keep seeking the help you may need.