Monday, January 3, 2011

Ask Asha: Changing Habits of Relating

[You can ask your own question here.]


I am going through an exceptionally difficult time right now. It seems that everything around me has a negative air. My parents have been fighting since I was a child and it has always gotten to me. I just graduated and I am living at home again and there is a lot of negative air in the house. My mother is a really hard person to live with but I know that she can be a very caring person too. It seems that I can’t go a minute without arguing with her. How do I begin to love her and maybe help her

From USA


If you were raised in a household where your parents were always fighting, it is not surprising that you “can’t go a minute without arguing.” It seems to me the issue right now is not your mother but you. Before you can be of any help to her you have to gain some clarity in yourself.

How did you get along when you were at college? Were you able to make deep connections with people or were your friendships superficial? In other words, outside of your family, what kind of interpersonal skills do you have?

Many of our attitudes and understanding of how to relate to people are formed in our childhood by the family atmosphere. It seems what you grew up with is nothing you want to carry into adulthood.

Now that you have finished college, this would be a good time to study yourself. To find out who you are, what you believe, why you respond as you do. Obviously, even though you are not pleased with the fighting that surrounded you as a child, now you are perpetuating it in your relationship with your mother.

Some effort, however, is going to be required in order to shift this. Living at home, where the habits are set, will make it more challenging, but it will also make the need more urgent.

If you have never had counseling, perhaps now is a good time to look into it. I don’t know if alcohol is a factor in your upbringing, but if it is, perhaps one of the AA related programs — Al-Anon is for family members of alcoholics — could be helpful to you.

There are many kinds of self-help books available now. Pray that God guide you to what you need. Start almost anywhere and with that prayer see what God brings to help you.

I don’t know how intense your anger is, but perhaps anger management classes would be appropriate. As I say, just start somewhere and see what doors open.

This could be a much bigger project than you realize, to become aware of how your childhood has affected you and then to choose, as a mature person, the responses you wish to have for the rest of your life. But there is nothing more important for you to do at this time.

Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, of course, would also be very helpful in terms of keeping you more calm and centered. But I suspect those practices will have to be supported by serious introspection guided by someone who can be more objective than you are likely to be at this early stage of your journey to self-understanding.

Altogether, though, that could be a formula for the transformation you need.

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of]

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