Holidays like Mother's Day can have the effect of making us appreciate our loved ones even more than we already do but also shed light on the ways some of our most important relationships fall short. Whether you're just hoping to deepen your connection with a loved one or you're trying to remedy a strained relationship, I have a few insights to share. They've helped me create more satisfying relationships time and time again. It all starts with having more meaningful conversations.
Let's take moms as an example. Having worked in many parent/child dynamics, I know that most of us admire our mothers but dislike a few things about them, too. There's no such thing as a perfect mom. Even people who had amazing childhoods don't have perfect parents.
I believed for so many years that my mom was negative and critical. I would get on the phone with her to connect, and throughout the call I wouldn’t say much. I’d listen and criticize her (often in my head and sometimes out loud) for being who she was.
I would say things like, “Can’t you just be more positive?” “Why do you have to respond like that?” “Mom, you’re so negative, ugh!”
I began to understand that my inability to accept my mom as she was held me back from actually connecting with her, which I deeply wanted. I knew I had to let go of trying to be right to truly connect with her.
That wasn’t an easy thing to admit, but it was necessary. All the anger, frustration, and annoyance I was holding on to was only hurting me.
Now, I'm happy to admit that I was completely wrong about how I saw my mom. I now see the beauty in all of who she is. Anytime I find myself getting frustrated, I know it has nothing to do with her.
What I interpreted as negativity was just my mom's ability to see the shadow side of the world. She sees the emotional truths that most people refuse to acknowledge.
When I stopped judging my mom for who I thought she was and started to listen, her perspective taught me a lot.
I began to feel connected to my mom on levels I didn’t know existed. I felt like I belonged to her and that she understood me, and for the first time, I also understood her.