Family Shadow Beliefs
Learn to uncover and heal the pain. Instead of dreading holiday visits with your family, let this time serve you as a loving and nurturing experience of self-discovery.
Self Care Strategies
Get the quick action plan for taking care of yourself during the holidays.
Shadow Belief Action Plan
Follow life coach Debbie Ford's Four Step Plan.
A Holiday Success Story
Bitterness toward her family was holding Veronica back—until she learned to let go.
A New Beginning
Chris has struggled with her family dynamics for her entire life—but she she uncovered her shadow beliefs and found peace.
Transform Your Shadow Beliefs
Learn to transform your shadow beliefs into "gifts."
Step One: Choose your time wisely. Limit time with family members who push your buttons.
Step Two: To get the most from your holiday experience, make a commitment to yourself to use this time to your advantage. Write about your uncovered shadow beliefs, feelings and negative experiences with friends and family. Give yourself full permission to express your feelings completely without judgment.
Step Three: Stay in contact with a friend that's easily accessible for "venting!" You might even schedule some "complaining time" where you debrief and fully express your grievances. Ask your friend to just listen to you without comment or agreement.
Step Four: Schedule time around the holidays with safe friends and family members. Give yourself the gift of special time with loved ones who make you feel great.
Step Five: Do something for your heart. Volunteer at a local shelter or food kitchen. Collect old toys for needy children. Visit a local nursing home even for an hour. Contributing to others is food for your soul.
Step Six: Surrender your expectations. Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, decide to do things differently this year. When you notice yourself projecting into the future, worrying about the past, or listening to your negative internal chatter, use a simple statement like "be here now" to remind you to return your thoughts to the most useful place of all—the present!
Veronica's daughter, Melissa, said her mother was now an inspiration to the entire family helping them all heal their pain.
The relationship between Veronica and Melissa has grown strong. Melissa now has a healthy relationship with her father, and a deeper appreciation and love for her inspired mom! "Mom, I would like to try to give back what you've given to me. You have given me a great gift by learning to honor yourself. By doing that, you have taught me to honor myself and become a stronger woman." — Melissa
Chris' Family Shadow Beliefs Uncovered
Chris revealed to Debbie that her brother had been killed one week before Christmas and was buried the day before Christmas Eve. She felt that she should have done something to prevent his death. As a child, Chris also convinced herself that she would be able to prevent her father's violent rages, and in turn, protect her mother if only she kept the house clean or did her homework.
Chris' shadow belief was "I am responsible for everything." Thirty years of trying to take responsibility for things completely out her control have left her feeling responsible whenever anything goes wrong.
How She Healed
Life coach Debbie Ford offered the following actions for Chris to overcome her own.
- Realize that she needs and deserves to be kind and nurturing to herself.
- Memorialize her brother.
- Debbie helped Chris realize the gift her shadow belief had left her with which was a responsible personality that had accomplished much.
- Begin to apply the advice that she would give her mother to herself; the advice we give others is often the best advice we could give ourselves.
Notice your behavior changes when you spend time with family. For example, do you try to please everyone? Do you spend time criticizing others? Do you:
- Overeat or drink too much
- Gang up on certain members of your family
- Over do and then feel resentful
- Use all your energy trying to make others happy
- Isolate and feel sorry for yourself
- Become a victim or martyr
One way to identify self-defeating patterns of behavior is to review your past and make a list of your regrets and old resentments. For example, did you spend a lot of money, only to realize you're in debt? Did you knock yourself out cooking/preparing/planning, only to feel unappreciated and disappointed?
Step Three: Identify Your Emotions
Look at the common emotions you feel during family get-togethers. Do you feel:
Once you identify the feeling, close your eyes and ask yourself: "When have I felt this feeling before?" Make a list of all of the times when you felt this way. As you consider each experience, ask yourself: "What did I make this experience mean about me?"
Step One: Identify a shadow belief about your family. Ask yourself, "What do I think of when I think of my family?" For example, if you think of your family as being "poor and depressed" your shadow belief may be: "If I stay with my family too long, I'll become poor and depressed."
Step Two: Uncover the incidents that supported you in creating the shadow belief about your family. What memories or experiences helped lock this belief in place?
Step Three: Identify the strategies you use to try and tolerate the situation. Do you check out? Do you silently judge your family members? How might you use your family to justify your life or to remain a victim?
Step Four: Realize that you are seeing your family through a shadow belief and this belief becomes the filter of your own limited perception. It's vital to realize that your vision is often clouded by the past and that your perception is not "the truth."
Step Five: Find the gift of your family. What have you learned from being a member of this particular family? What have you become as a result of not wanting to be like them? What strengths have you developed from being a member of this family?