Often, when sharing my experiences verbally, the listener thinks I am:
- talking about their life
- giving them advice
- suggesting they are wrong
Any one of these is enough for a conversation to go sideways.
Better to blog!
There are a couple areas of life I know well.
I know these areas well because I have been able to live the lessons of the largest mistakes that have been made around me. This is my superpower.
So, I guess, when sharing my opinion on sensitive topics, it would be best to preface my observations with…
You could do that, you would certainly be justified. In fact, my family tried that a few times. However, for us, that course of action ended in a multigenerational disaster.
My mom died last year, so she won’t mind me sharing a family anecdote to illustrate my point.
Many years ago, I visited mom in Vancouver (our hometown). On the visit, she said she wanted to introduce me to a friend. I agreed and we headed off…
…to the courthouse!
Her friend was a security guard at the courthouse.
I didn’t get served with a summons but the introduction was a little weird. The guard was polite and we exchanged small chat before heading on our way.
Over the 1990s, mom had whittled down her peer group to a security guard at the courthouse. Social isolation did not have a positive impact on her mental health.
Her mental health descent was a biggie.
I have a childhood memory of mom being the cover story on Vancouver Magazine. It was a time when she was busy, engaged, productive and socially connected. One of the most successful businesswomen in town. Beautiful, happy and a very good mother to me.
FWIW, I look at the Free Britney movement and think we should give that family space. Many elements of that story fit pieces of my family history.
In a war, disagreement or divorce… at some point, someone has to stop fighting, regardless of the facts.
A few years after her Cover Story, mom’s life started to fall apart. In the process, she got into a habit of not letting go, of anything.
Mom sued everyone possible, for as long as possible, and achieved nothing but negative consequences for all parties.
I inverted and applied this lesson, the lesson of watching what happens when we don’t stop fighting, as the guiding principle of my adult life.
My adult life truly started when I stopped engaging the toxic personalities in my life and… used money to avoid BS, the highest utility spending I know!
One example, I bought the contents of my home when I got divorced. I’d purchased everything in the first place, and paid off my spouse’s debts when we were married. So it seemed silly (to me) that I had to purchase everything again.
But I’d learned the lesson.
…and the check was small relative to the BS that would have resulted.
When you are thinking about using money for revenge… …better to use it for a clean exit, that moves you towards your long-term goals.
By the way, I could tell you all kinds of stories about “what was done to me” during my divorce.
My former spouse could do exactly the same.
We’d both be right.
Our stories would be true, and some would appear diametrically opposed.
Rather than arguing truth…
Sit back, pause and consider…
- What’s best for the youngest members of the family?
- What actions should I take with their interests in mind?
Ironically, in my divorce, I was the youngest person involved.
I took great care of my future self.
This isn’t always the case.
Kids bear all the pain from family conflict and receive none of the benefits.
Do you want to hear what was done to me? Actually, no. That wouldn’t be helping you, or the youngest members of your family.
What’s the outcome you want 10 years from now? Get to work on that.
Break the chain.