Welcome to the last part of this series. I hope that you will read it in the spirit in which it was written - that you'll recognise that I am not 'giving some expert's advice' but am talking from the foundation of personal experience as well as from the pain that came from my years of personal struggle that finally culminated in the recognition that if anything in my family was going to change, the change had to begin within me.
MATURITY = THE ART OF LIVING IN PEACE WITH THAT WHICH CANNOT BE CHANGED
Stepfamily living requires that you become very skilled at this, as there are multitudes of things which cannot be changed. Railing against these things brings no more than permanent frustration, feeling out of control, feeling victimized, blown about by circumstance, at the mercy of others, unhappy and frequently discontent.
For you, the step-parent, this means:
*Discovering the things that you can and the things that you cannot change in your situation.
*Developing the ability to know the difference.
*Letting go of the things you cannot change.
*Developing the ability to separate your feelings from other people’s actions.
*Developing the gift of flexibility.
*Trusting that things will work out in the end, even if you are not in control of them.
MATURITY = ACCEPTING YOURSELF
Self-acceptance is a very important stepping stone on the path to maturity. The reality is that unless you accept yourself (warts and all) there is no way you can possibly accept anyone else.
Self-acceptance for you, the step-parent, means:
*The need to open your eyes to your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
*To discover your beauty as well as your inner areas of darkness.
*To know that you cannot be all things to all people.
*To accept that you won’t get it right all the time no matter how hard you try and that this doesn’t mean you are a failure or are worth less than anyone else.
*Rather than beating yourself up about the things you dislike about yourself you become open to discovery, learning and change.
*That all the power you will ever need already resides within you.
MATURITY = THE RECOGNITION THAT YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
People so often feel totally out of control - unable to change their circumstances, situations, habits, life patterns, misfortunes, addictions etc. To some degree, of course, it is true that we are out of control – no-one has control over the fact that they are born or the reality that they will die. No-one can control what others will or won’t do and this may indeed have influence on their life decisions or impact their quality of life - after all, no-one is an island!!
Maturity and consequential freedom from the anguish of constantly feeling out of control (which is an aguish shared by almost all step-parents) comes from the recognition that it is never the circumstance, but the way you respond to the circumstance that gives you control over your life. Victor Frankl was a most extraordinary human being who spent many years in a concentration camp. Although robbed of his home, his financial security, his status as well-known psychiatrist, his health and the lives of almost all of his family members (experiences that nearly succeeded in destroying him) he discovered that: ‘EVERYTHING CAN BE TAKEN AWAY FROM A MAN BUT ONE THING: THE LAST OF HUMAN FREEDOMS –TO CHOOSE ONE’S ATTITUDE IN ANY GIVEN SET OF CIRCUMSTANCE, TO CHOOSE ONE’S OWN WAY’.
For you, the step-parent, this means that:
*You can allow yourself to hate every minute of your experience, or you can choose to discover, enjoy and celebrate its positives.
*You can decide to’ throw in the towel’ when the going gets tough, or you can choose to become tough and determine to keep going.
* You can choose to hate your own or your partner’s ‘ex’ if he/she makes your life a misery, or you can choose not to be threatened by him or her and to respond to them with grace and mercy.
*You can choose to respond with resentment and anger to your stepchildren’s disrespectful and hurtful behaviour, or you can choose to show them a different way of being.
*You can choose to waste many precious years of your life (which you’ll never be able to re-capture) by being angry with fate, circumstances or people, or you can choose to open yourself to changing, learning and becoming the best YOU that you can BE.
Whilst I know from my own experience and the experiences of each client I have the pleasure and honour to accompany on part of their life’s journey, maturity isn’t so easy to come by, I trust that this post and, in fact, each one of my posts will help you towards living your life more consciously and towards finding more fulfillment, peace, passion, gratitude and joy.
Wishing you the very best for your step-journey! Sonja
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a gift – accept it!
Life is an adventure – dare it!
Life is a mystery – unfold it!
Life is a game – play it!
Life is a puzzle – solve it!
Life is a struggle – face it!
Life is beauty – praise it!
Life is sorrowful – experience it!
Life is opportunity – take it!
Life is a goal – achieve it!
Life is a song – sing it!
Life is a mission – fulfill it!
(Author David McNally)
The following is an excerpt of my book “Hell…p! I’m a stepmother” from the chapter entitled “Steps to Freedom”.
It is said that maturity comes with age. I believe that the only reason this saying often holds true is that no one can move through life without facing a number of challenges. Whilst people respond in different ways to their challenges, none of us can escape them altogether.
For many years I had no appreciation for the challenges of my life. I hated them, railed against them, wanted to ignore them, escape them, be rid of them. It was only when I accepted that nobody is exempt from the buffeting storms of life and that I have a choice in how to respond to them that I was able to give up my futile battle and begin to embrace my difficulties and see them as opportunities. Increasingly, as I learnt to ‘go with the flow’, I began to learn the lessons they contained. Maturity is one of the sweet rewards for choosing to embrace the challenges of our lives.
To purchase this book, click here