Camilla and Luke recently celebrated their first anniversary. They live in Charlotte, NC, where Camilla works as First 5 Coordinator for Proverbs 31 Ministries.  In today’s post, my daughter-in-law suggests a strategy for growth that can be applied to all relationships. 

One of my very most favorite things I learned through my counseling program is how to actively pursue self-awareness. I absolutely and most certainly do not always do this, but I’m slowly improving. Self-awareness requires a certain amount of discipline that does not come easy. It requires that you question why you believe, think, and react the way you do. And once you know why, you have to decide if that’s how you want to continue.

IMG_4824Laurel said something to me the other day that stuck with me. She said, “God actually will use the things that bother us about other people – MIL’s included – to transform us. It’s good to learn to ask ourselves why certain things bother us even as we work to extend grace.” This “asking ourselves” is the self-awareness that becomes so necessary for healthy relationships – including in-laws!

In my last post, I talked a lot about extending grace to your in-laws, but to take it one step further, we need to know why we needed to give that grace. What is it about that question that worked you up? Why did her reaction hurt you? Did it touch your issues with your own self-worth? Did it remind you of something a bully said to you? When we can answer these questions to ourselves, we have a much better chance at a healthy and flourishing relationship.

It is no longer, “you made me feel bad,” but “I feel bad because..” These are small but significant differences.

Practically, self-awareness can take a lot of different forms. If it is something you aren’t used to, you may want to sit at the end of the day and reflect on some interactions. Write down the interaction, who it was with, what you were thinking, and how it made you feel. I find that sometimes writing these things out helps clarify my actions. I’m then able to examine my intentions and actions and see where I may need growth. Once you have practiced writing it out like this, you will be able to do it mentally, without much trouble.

Here are a few questions to get you started: What is it about your in-laws that’s bothering you? How does your response reflect your own internal struggles? How might God be using your in-laws to grow you?

 

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