My husband and I have three school-age kids and are pretty frugal. We don’t even have credit cards. My dad and sister plan expensive extended-family gatherings that require flights, hotels and rental cars. During these vacations, they buy tickets to concerts and excursions that my husband and I are not interested in and cannot afford. In the past, we buckled to their pressure. We stopped because there was no quality conversation time during these vacations. So now I am the sibling that always says no. They pity us and feel like they should pay. Sometimes we accepted these gifts but don’t want to anymore. I occasionally convince them to do simple things like a hike, but it seems they need to spend a lot of money to feel they really did something. How do I get them to stop asking us on vacations so that I don’t need to reject them anymore?
Reboot your operating system. Like this: The universe loves you so much it bestows multiple scenarios in which you are invited to practice saying “No, thank you.” These opportunities will continue until you can speak that truth without a twinge of guilt and without a sliver of superiority. That’s important because your guilt, the fear that you are doing something wrong, hampers clean speech. You are employing guilt (unconsciously) to avoid facing reality.
Here’s your reality check: The values embraced by you and your husband oppose the values beloved by your extended family. It’s not just dissimilar approaches to finances, it’s also conflicting concepts of emotional intimacy. You and your husband believe in building connection through intimate conversation. You both prefer activities that foster heart-to-heart communication. Your extended family prefers connecting through shared experiences that include little, if any, deep conversation. Yes, this means you are different from your family of origin. It’s wonderful that you have a husband who stands with you. But a part of you is not at peace being the person who is unlike the others.
I want you to challenge yourself to be the odd one out, the black sheep, the duckling who is secretly a swan. Don’t opt to behave in such a way that your family never invites you on holiday again. Remember, these invitations are actually from the universe. They are encouragements toward regeneration. Evolve accordingly. The next time your dad or sister calls with a vacation invite, breathe in the love being offered to you. Savor the sweetness of being included. Then, find your inner happy place. With gratitude, answer the invitation honestly. In the process, you will strengthen your backbone and heal your mind. Plus, your children will learn what integrity means and how to live it. And that’s a foundation every child deserves.
My sister has had so much plastic surgery she looks bizarre. The last time I saw her, my whole body recoiled. She is divorced with three sons who think such madness is normal. On a recent outing (without her), they criticized the appearance of every normal woman we saw. I intervened, saying I thought the woman looked beautiful and natural, but it was difficult to say much without criticizing my sister (their mother). Any advice?
The solution is to plant seeds and hope that over time, consciousness will bloom. You can drop a thought into the conversation: “I wonder what impact extensive elective surgery might have on a person’s health? Or finances?” Stoke a question: “What mental state would a person be in to undergo that much elective surgery?” You can also talk to your nephews about the concept of growing into the years with grace. And be certain to share why you have chosen to enjoy your own body’s human nature.