This article is from "The Oprah Magazine." December, 2006.

Q: How do I deal with a mother-in-law who says whatever pops into her head no matter how it sounds? She recently referred to my weight gain (15 pounds over the past five years) by asking, "So when is the baby due?" She also says things such as "I can't believe you wear striped tops so often, since they emphasize your middle." I end up devastated, not knowing what to say back. My husband makes excuses, like "Oh, it's the hormones she's taking," instead of asking his mother how she could say such things. She's 84 and doesn't have Alzheimer's; she's just very comfortable being cruel. I have no idea how to defend myself and wind up feeling worthless and angry.

Dr. Phil: 
The fact that your mother-in-law is 84 years old doesn't give her a free pass to insult people. However, she seems pretty set in her ways. I don't mean in any way to degrade the elderly or to suggest that they're in some way less than capable of being accountable for themselves. But old sayings get to be old sayings because they're profound, like the one about how it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. So while I don't know your mother-in-law, let's recognize that, realistically, you may not have much ability to influence her.

Having said that, my real concern here is with you. Nobody likes negative input, but people who let it eat them up respond that way because they haven't accepted themselves, flaws, fallacies, and all. Why do her comments matter so much that you "wind up feeling worthless and angry"? That suggests to me that you believe her to some degree and you're not clear in your own heart and mind about your worth.

If you're so fragile that someone's criticism makes you get this down on yourself, then you've got some work to do. You need to stop and say, "Wait a minute. I'm comfortable with who I am, and if I don't like something about myself, I'll change it." Look, this woman may not be the most sensitive person on the planet, and somebody taking shots at you from the peanut gallery isn't going to undermine that. If you don't like your weight, then work out and watch what you eat. In the meantime, don't give your power away to someone else.

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  • Linda
  • I like this article. I totally agree with what Dr. Phil said. We should love ourselves more than care about what other people think. That's stand up for ourselves!!!
  • 對阿我看到雜誌上的文章真的很喜歡, 所以就把文章打出來跟大家分享~ 雖然不是很喜歡 Dr. Phil 的節目 (因為廣告太多), 可是其實他的話都很有道理!

    Fanny 於 2007/05/20 10:55 回覆

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