Today I was reminded of a visit not long ago by my MIL’s sister and husband. They traveled from Connecticut and hung out at our home for quite a while. They brought with them maple syrup they harvested and made themselves. They also often makes jams and jellies and give them to us, though they didn’t bring any this time.
While they visited I noticed an energy coming from my MILs sister. She seemed extremely judgmental and critical toward me. She made several comments asking why I was doing something or implying that I was wrong to do something. One of the things she was really judgmental about was that I did not immediately open her maple syrup but put it in the cabinet and got out the syrup we had already opened. She said something like, “Why would you do that (not open it)?” and I told her we already had one opened that I did not want to spoil. My husband then took the syrup from her and opened it and said, “Of course we will use it”. The energy from him was judgmental, too, like he was saying to me, “How could you be so rude?”
She made other little comments throughout the visit and I could tell she just didn’t like me. I could read from her energy that she came to my house with an pre-formed opinion of me. She got the opinion from my MIL who told her during frustrated moments this or that about me, all negative. The energy read was so obvious in my recollection, but at the time it was received all at once, an onslaught of criticism and blame that I was unable to process or understand.
Though I did not confront the woman or my MIL about what I was sensing, I later told my husband what I sensed and what I believed the source was. He believed it was likely true based upon how his mother operates. Actually, at the time, I was not concerned if she liked me or not. This is my normal take with people. They can take me as I am or shove it. lol If she wanted to base her idea of me as a person on what another person said, she could and it was her loss.
So this memory comes to me out of the blue while making birthday breakfast for my son (Happy 3rd birthday Elek!). With it comes an understanding that I have been learning this lesson for some time. What is the lesson? That what we say about another person and the energy that goes with it is easily and sometimes eagerly adopted by others. Gossip is what it is called but it has many forms, and the phrase, “What goes around comes around” completely applies.
I recalled that when I was younger and something happened, someone made me mad or hurt me, that my first urge was to find someone close to me and bitch about it and the person. Rather than talk to the person directly, I took the coward’s path and released my frustrations with a “trusting” friend or family member. This is all my MIL did (does). She doesn’t like confrontation so when she is hurt or upset by something I do, she finds someone she trusts and tells them all about it. It is like a regurgitation or puking of all the emotions and energy she is holding of the event and person. The person who is listening wants to help, so often they agree with whatever they are told and tend to add fuel to the fire by adding their agreement. They will say, “Oh yes, how awful! How could you be around someone like that!?” Their agreement makes the other person feel heard, justified and right in their decision to talk to the trusted friend/family.
What should the person who is being told this information say to avoid this pattern, this cycle of negative and destructive energy? They should acknowledge the other person first – Yes, I can see how that would upset you. Then, rather than going into agreement with them, they should encourage the other person to work it out with the person that caused them the upset – Why don’t you talk to so and so? Maybe there is more to the situation than you know? Maybe you could work it out?
I saw how I do this very thing with my mother – both as the person venting their frustrations and the person on the receiving end (that trusted friend/family). I use to use my mom to vent about my sisters and husband all the time. She in turn did the same with me. We would bounce the energy back and forth. I didn’t think anything of it until I lived on family land and had family all around me, family who often clashed. My sister being one of those individuals, it got pretty negative. I struggled to contain my upset and to not judge, but kept being sucked in. I couldn’t understand how this kept happening but then I realized that it was because my Mom was coming to me to vent and I was agreeing with her because of my own upset with my sister. This was fueling the conflict and causing stress on the family, not to mention me. I was haunted by the nasty feelings I was having and wanted them to stop. When I saw the cause I started saying to my mom, “Why don’t you talk to her?” rather than sharing my own upset and adding to the negative energy. Eventually I told her, “I don’t want to hear your complaints about her anymore. If you have an issue you need to go to her. What you decide to do is up to you. It is your choice. I am sure you will figure it out.” And I stepped back and walked away from the whole situation. It was hard. I lived in the middle of it all, literally feet from both of them. I felt some agony at letting it go, but once I did I was no longer affected. My mom made her decision (which I knew she would) and then learned the hard way. I had known what was coming. I wanted to help, to keep a bad situation from becoming worse. Unfortunately, when one is too overly involved, “help” can have the opposite affect.
Now it is happening again. I am seeing the same drama playing out. I am seeing my mom invite into her life the same upset she let in three years ago. I sense from her the need to have agreement from me. In fact, she jumped at telling me about it just to have the agreement. I fell for it, somewhat, but stopped short and said to her, “It is your decision. You do what you feel is best.” I have stepped back and now I wait. I am grateful to not be living so close anymore.
Unfortunately, my mom’s complaints about my sister were already heard and my agreement was already added to that. I got pulled in. Again. That is why I was reminded of my MIL’s sister. I got to personally experience the end phenomena of such interactions. Who knows what judgments I have caused other people to have about my sister. I know for certain that my mother and cousin have been affected by my agreement with them. My husband probably, too as well as my daughter.
In considering this, I am asked, “What are your true feelings toward your sister? Want do you want other people to think about her? Now that you see the cycle, have experienced all sides, what do you feel is the best way to resolve such situations?”
My true feelings? I love my sister. I want other people to love her, too. I don’t want them to think the worst about her when they are with her. I don’t want the first things to come to mind about her to be soaked in negative energy. Negativity feeds off negativity. It grows. The same is true for positivity.
There is a part of me that says about my sister, “I love her…..BUT she should not be allowed to get away with what she is doing! She should be punished!” I recognize this is the part of me that seeks to be right. I see the patterns stemming all the way back from our childhood. So many things she did to me and I did to her. Back and forth. Repeating. Yuck.
Others seek agreement. They want to be right when they feel wronged. It is human nature but it is not productive.
I am reminded of how I handled a work situation way back in 2009. I had a boss who I disliked but really there was no reason why I should dislike her. I began to observe others and my interactions with them and how they added to my dislike of my boss. I saw how others came to me to complain and how I agreed. Then I began to look at my boss as if I had never met her and had never heard anything about her. I saw her differently. I saw a person who had admirable qualities. I saw the positive more than the negative. When I realized she was not the “bad” person I was led to believe, I began to defend her when others came to me to bitch or gossip about her. I began to say positive things about her as well. I noticed they stopped coming to me. lol Eventually I began to only receive positive information and energy about her from others. Eventually my boss began to talk to me more and was more friendly.
This is how you handle negative situations involving “gossip”. Family or friends or coworkers, it doesn’t matter, though family can be especially difficult. It really is all a cycle of energy. You can feed whichever kind of energy you like, but be sure it will come back to you and affect you the same.
I’m lucky I don’t care what other people think of me (maybe too much) else I probably would have had a much more difficult time with this lesson! Ha!