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The frugal life vs expectations of friends & family

 
pollinator
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@Nina J.: "Problem is, I don't really know what to do about this."

Actually, I think you are doing as well as you can given the personal growth and transitions that you are going through.  Recognizing your admission that "... in the past (in my childhood and as a youngster) I have been manipulated and dominated a lot  I'm sort of extra sensitive about this", it often follows that it can be years into our adulthood before beginning to nail down personal boundaries....*and* formulating personal core values.  So I would say you are on the right track with that exploration and can be expected to make some right decisions on this road and some wrong ones that, at the end of the day, you may just have to accept.  Again, just my opinion, but it can help to look upon this as trying to break free of an addict(ive) subculture.  How do you approach an addict who is belligerent and makes demands on your life and time?  While keeping communications as open as possible, you start carving out boundaries and begin measuring outside influences against your core values.....often for the first time in your life.   Since you are wresting control from a possibly controlling family, there likely will be kicking and screaming.  Which I tend to liken to a birth....lots of kicking and screaming on both sides as the new you is being born.
 
pollinator
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Problem is, I don't really know what to do about this.  



Assuming for a moment that we all have imperfect lifestyles and friends with imperfect lifestyles, how would you treat a friend in this situation?  Someone who hadn't been irritating you for awhile.  Someone you really like.  It is easy to get completely bent out of shape by family when the same situation with friends might have a totally different result.  This has been my newer approach to these situations with family.   I find that I feel a bit less bitter about things that can send me skidding off the rails if I pretend this is an afternoon with friends.  I try to create more authentic interactions, like I would have with my friends.  It is helping.   And this is a real trouble area for me.  I skipped my last family reunion because I had my bags packed, dog at the boarder, and just sat on the bed and sobbed about how much I didn't want to go.  That was the low point.  I have had to find a way, but it has required really rethinking things.

 
John Weiland
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And another thing if you are the "crazy aunt or uncle" out there in this equation:  Just remember that there may be nieces and nephews as well who may, internally, be feeling as you did....and seeing that you are choosing a different lifestyle that can be a template or catalyst for their own growth.  Like it or not, you can/will be something that gives them some hope or at least a model for doing things differently.  Sometimes with a bit of thinking and reflecting, you may realize that there was some close or distant family member or friend who served this role in your own life.
 
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Yes! Exactly.

The thing I have come across is my own feelings of guilt when we are not doing things that concur with our more mainstream friends.

What I have found (and am still perpetually working on) is that I have still have a knee jerk reaction that I'm doing wrong by NOT participating in the wastefulness of some people we know. Then I have to really coach myself up and remind myself about why we are living sustainably and frugally. Just a little mini pep talk. Helps a bunch.

Where it's especially bad is around holidays and birthdays. And my niece and nephew hate getting gifts from us because they are always small and usually handmade/hand processed. I remind myself that the gift I'm giving them is a gentle challenge to their upper middle class status quo. A little slice of difference. It's enough. Because I love them too much to buy them crap. I continue to weather being made fun of - when I had my daughter my brother actually asked me if I was going to squat in the woods holding on to a tree. I didn't have the heart to tell him that giving birth outside was part of my birth plan. I just smiled and changed the subject.

It's getting better. I never proselytize to anyone about living my kind of lifestyle. I don't wax poetic about my garden or our chickens (except to like minded people and then we go OFF...) I live for me and my family. Other's get to do the same. But I have a responsibility to manage my own fleeting anxiety/insecurity and to get myself more in line with my values.

I think the cool thing is that WE manage the context of how we talk to people about our lives and choices. A lot of the time I just simply don't talk about it. My husband and I deliberately made the choices that landed us where we are today and that's enough for us. I don't really see the value in anyone else validating my life choices. Last time I checked, it's just me living in my skin. And every time I give in to someone else's ideas of how I should live, I'm less satisfied.

I tell ya' - the closer I get to 40, the more my "give a shit" button breaks.

Cheers!
 
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When we went out of the gift circuit my brother came to me and ranted about the pressure he felt to buy things for everybody, the money he spent on it and the stress it was for him. He said "I end up buying things I don't like and I know the recipient does not need and will not like just because I have to buy *something*".

It was very important to me to hear that and I think it was a change in the way he looked at my choices. He understood them better and somehow admires me for putting my foot down, something he doesn't dare do.

It helps that I never have a holier-than-thou attitude, since I truly respect his choices.

The bottom line, it takes courage to follow your own path.

Cheers,
Lucía
 
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i try really hard to be gracious with rude relatives especially oblivious drunken judgmental ones.  

i never take drugs of any kind at a family event
i leave when i reach my limit of frustration

the gift thing is a very common problem & there are many different solutions like drawing names but it brings up some uncomfortable class stuff when there are big income differences.

my favorite is guilt trips from relatives who make lots more money than me, travel frequently, have never visited me after being invited and complain when i decide not to visit as frequently.  i'm sorry, i missed the part where you bought a plane ticket every year the last decade to demonstrate your commitment to our relationship

i've had several housemates & friends who have been very mean spirited about food allergies.  one of them acknowledged to me that he had behaved poorly after his daughter developed a serious allergy but he didn't apologize.  i realize it's tricky, some people are a PITA with their allergies, it's true but i don't get it when they get sh*t on when they are being gracious, bringing supplemental food etc.

for years i would have people come up to me at the buffet table and apologize for being meat eaters.  for a couple years, i thought it was my long hair, or my tie-dye shirt or maybe they were told that i used to be a vegetarian.  but then i realized it was just their free floating anxiety & guilt which they were projecting onto me.  i came to realize people feel judged around their drug use whether or not i'm sober, or dieting or whatever.  although i will admit i have certainly been guilty of explaining CAFOs or other atrocities of the food system at a party which i try to avoid now.  but mostly my point is that, when people feel judged, you're boxing with ghosts.  it often doesn't make any difference how gracious we are or give them an out or never gave a damn in the first place what they choose to do or not.  

i also am realizing why previous generations put such store on manners & graciousness.  i'm not going to lie about things but i pick my battles.  
 
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Years ago it started to cause strife between us and our in laws about buying birthday and christmas presents.  My father in law expected expensive, tobacco related presents - fancy cigars or a pipe for his collection.  Once we made him a hand carved pipe out of a lump of meerschaum, which went down well, but we were still uneasy with the whole concept, especially as we didn't want to encourage his tobacco habit.  In the end we fixed the situation by buying him a three foot high hookah, or water pipe, for the centre piece of his collection, and a friend of ours donated a pack of highly suspicious looking sticky black tobacco that he'd bought in Turkey and, he assured us, was genuine tobacco but virtually unsmokable as it was so rough and just happened to look like something totally illicit.  Father in law seemed surprised, but rather pleased, with the gift, and we left him that Christmas arguing with his wife about whether or not the tobacco was going to be smoked and the water-pipe left where visitors could see it.

They never told us what we had to buy for them ever again.
 
pollinator
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Lindsey Jane wrote:

What I have found (and am still perpetually working on) is that I have still have a knee jerk reaction that I'm doing wrong by NOT participating in the wastefulness of some people we know.



I think you have definitely hit the nerve here. Where do you think this feeling is coming from?  

Our relatives are shoppers. All of them (except me & my husband) just LOVE shopping. They are generous and they love to give presents, LOTS of presents. These are not bad qualities, quite on the contrary! Most of them are well off and can easily afford their consumerist lifestyles. However, recently two of our close relatives have divorced and their income level has dropped dramatically, but they continue to give gifts and travel almost like before.  I'm worried about them and I always try to tell them not to give us gifts but they keep giving them. So there's the fundamental difference between me and my relatives. It's not income level, it's how we prioritize things. I prioritize keeping our spending in balance, they prioritize giving gifts and travelling. That makes me feel selfish and uptight and them seem so unselfish and generous and  that's where the feeling of doing wrong is coming from, in my case. At least in part.  
 
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I wish we could, but we can't. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
 
John Weiland
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@Nina J: "..... I prioritize keeping our spending in balance, they prioritize giving gifts and travelling. That makes me feel selfish and uptight and them seem so unselfish and generous and  that's where the feeling of doing wrong is coming from, in my case. At least in part. "

But there is more to it here and I think that's where part of the rub comes in.  There is the personal, financial cost to gift buying and travelling and then there is the global/spiritual/social cost *behind* the buying/manufacturing of said gifts and travel.  In addition, when you note that you "prioritize keeping our spending in balance", it seems to me that you are doing more than that as you have expressed above.....you are are making a conscious decision regarding "waste".  The mainstream culture still would have us believe that the *only* costs you need to care about are those the affect your immediate finances, and nothing else.  I suspect part of what got the permie and other movements like it rolling is that a critical mass of people began to see beyond that equation to the larger impacts made by our decisions and choices.  And others, family and friends included, often can't or do not want to see that bigger picture.  It seems often to me to be the ultimate inversion of sentiment, one which I was raised sharing as well---being made to feel "selfish and uptight" for actually caring about the planet in some larger way while others are held up as "unselfish and generous" for blindly aiding and abetting the continued destruction.
 
Nina Jay
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Miriam Jarvis wrote:I wish we could, but we can't. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.



Oh, but we can    There are so many positive things we can do, thanks to advice from all you wonderful permies:

- Be honest but positive when speaking about your life to your friends/ relatives
- remember your core values and basic boundaries
- say that you are on a budget and ask the friends/ relatives to name which social occasion is most important to them and attend that
- keep actively in touch in  ways that don't require travelling (phone, email, skype)
- give your full attention when you are with them
- pretend your relatives are your friends so you can engage with them more easily / authentically
- be creative with gifts
- pay attention to what your friends/ relatives enjoy, it doesn't have to be anything expensive but a little thing that is special to them
- give farm produce as presents
- if all else fails, tell them you have to herd you reindeer to lower pasture and have a martini  
 
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I actually had to "divorce" my parents for about ten years - a family member did something truly horrific, and I refused to "forgive and forget" - I tried the "agree to disagree" option first....after several years I had to raise the bar and made it a taboo subject, if it were brought up I would simply say "I love you, gotta run" and walk out or hang up, I did this literally hundreds of times.  Finally, I moved and did not give them my address, my Mum tracked me down, showed up at my door, and I told her she should have called first, I was busy, and shut the door.  None of this was easy ( just to be clear, it was not over something trivial), but essentially I had to get them to understand that my position was NOT changing, period, and they would have to either accept it or no longer be  a part of my life.  Oh, and I have ten dogs, so if they really want me to come they must accommodate all my dogs!

My situation was an extreme issue of boundaries, this too may simply be an issue of boundaries - you have left their comfort zone, and they are (and may may continue forever) trying to drag you back to "normal".  Perhaps this will always be a losing battle, but you need not choose to be the victim.  This is your family, your choices, your passion, your dreams, your goals, your life!  You are not seeking their approval, their agreement or to convert them.  Do not allow them to manipulate you, do not second guess yourself, you need to do what is right for you.  They give you presents, you say thank you - after a while they will either stop or not, but either way you do not explain or apologize when you do not reciprocate something you have clearly stated you will no longer be participating in.  If they choose to give you a gift, you appreciate it without guilt.  They continuously demand your presence at family functions, you do not explain, you simply decline and wish them all a lovely time.  IF ANYONE tries to make you feel bad, simply agree with what they are saying "I know it is Aunt Agnes' 75th birthday, and I am sure you all will make it wonderful for her" or "Yes, it would be lovely if the nieces and nephews could spend more time together" or "yep, you are right, my kids don't see yours enough".  Simply agree and move on.  Do not allow them to upset you, do not let them know they have upset you, just move on.

All the above is fine and dandy, BUT, do take a good look at your true feelings?  Is it guilt that you cannot (will not, do not want to...) reciprocate?  Is it anger that they just WILL NOT accept your choices?  Is it hurt that they create uncomfortable situations?  Or is it obligation that you feel unable to discharge?  Understanding the reason this bothers you is a big key to coping successfully with it.  Next, look at the worst case scenario (never see family again, always have family angry with you....) and ask yourself is it truly WORTH the price of sticking to your decision.  If the answer is yes, then buck up, and in no uncertain terms spell out the situation for the family, perhaps in an email or letter, and unequivocally explain your situation - there is no need to "justify" your reasons, just state them clearly so there is no chance for someone to "not get it", offer what you are comfortable with (we will come up at Christmas....) and end with something along the lines of ".....we all love you so much, and we know how much you love us, thank you for understanding our situation/position/choices, we look forward to seeing you at ours soon." They may never understand, but you may be able to TEACH them to respect your choices, good luck.

PS:  The ten dogs are still my "get out of family obligations free card" - no one wants ten dogs visiting!  Livestock even better! Chickens, pigs, horses, cows...they all need at least twice daily tending!
 
Nina Jay
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Lorinne: I truly admire your strength and courage and wisdom in dealing with your family... you sure have had a rough journey!

Lorinne Anderson wrote:

All the above is fine and dandy, BUT, do take a good look at your true feelings?  Is it guilt that you cannot (will not, do not want to...) reciprocate?  Is it anger that they just WILL NOT accept your choices?  Is it hurt that they create uncomfortable situations?  Or is it obligation that you feel unable to discharge?  Understanding the reason this bothers you is a big key to coping successfully with it.  



I agree, it is vitally important to take a look at your true feelings. I don't think there is any other way to really move forward from these situations. You're list of possible feelings is excellent and very helpful.

In my case I think it is a mixture at least the following: guilt that I do not want to reciprocate and hurt that they do not accept me the way I am and anger that my decisions are not respected.  I'm not angry about them not accepting our lifestyle, that's too strong a word because I never really expected that from most of them anyway. But I did assume that someone, anyone, at least one person from our big family would see our lifestyle as a good choice. So it's a disappointment really. Yes, I'm disappointed that not even one of them is excited about our new life. After all I've always been excited for them when they have made some brave choice that is important to them.

So there's guilt and disappointment. And then there is anger. The anger comes from them not taking no for an answer, ie. not respecting me and my boundaries. And here is where the tricky part comes in: I'm extra sensitive about this because of my past. I've had to struggle a lot with my mother, just like you. My mother would completely run my life and my family if I let her. She's done things like redecorated my home when I was at work, without my permission. She arranges trips and buys furniture and clothes without asking for our opinion and she even used to send us adverts about houses for sale that she thinks we should live in (I've made it clear now that we are not about to move back to the city from our homestead and she's stopped doing that, so there is some progress   )
But not all our relatives are like that and it is not necessarily always about manipulation if they ask us to come and offer to pay for the trip, for example. So, I have to learn when it is okay to accept this kind of gifts and when it just leads into trouble. With my mother it's very clear: if she offers to pay for something and we accept it is a sure thing that she'll just get worse and before you know it she is at our house, throwing away our furniture and replacing them with "better" ones.
 
John Weiland
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@Nina J: "My mother would completely run my life and my family if I let her. She's done things like redecorated my home when I was at work, without my permission......if she offers to pay for something and we accept it is a sure thing that she'll just get worse and before you know it she is at our house, throwing away our furniture and replacing them with "better" ones. "

Does she travel??....is there a way that, when she is away from her home, you could reciprocate 'in kind' with your own interpretation of "better"??

..    
 
Lorinne Anderson
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At the end of the day we can only control what we feel, what we value, and what we truly need.  We cannot change others feelings, values or needs, nor can we expect everyone to see things as we do.  What we can do is CHOOSE to NOT feel guilty, regretful, angry....That is the key, you will never go wrong if you do what is right for you. We can choose to be a victim, or we can choose to not be a victim.  We are all grown ups here, time to put on our big girl/boy pants and stop allowing others to treat us like naughty children - no temper tantrums, whining, or pity parties - if you choose to not do something, just don't do it.  No one can MAKE you do or feel anything, that is your choice, choose to be proud of your decisions, proud of your values, proud of the life you are creating for your family.  Choose to not feel remorse, guilt, anger etc., choose to be happy!

I HATE OBLIGATORY GIFT GIVING - you get crap you don't want, you waste money buying crap they do not want....ugh!  The whole gift thing (or compliments), I sooooooo get it, hardest thing I ever learned to do was to simply say a heart felt "thank you", followed by allowing myself to enjoy what was offered in the spirit it was offered in.  I love to give gifts, and I have never given gifts expecting them to be reciprocated, I found my joy in the giving.  

I collect berries to make jam, bake cookies, mini loaves, bars ( biggest hit: mini 'A' frame gingerbread houses filled with dollar store stuff - matchbox cars or puzzles for boys, bubble bath, beauty stuff for girls - adult or children alike, the house is the wrapping, its edible, and the trinkets inside are designed to make one smile) or make chocolates (OMG, sooooo simple and frugal!!!).  The other day I saw a $2.00 tin with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it filled with Q-tips, ideal for my friend who lives in a trailer and loves Disney, and I do not wait for Bdays or Xmas, I just give it and say "You know I do not do obligatory gifting, but this was just so 'you' I had to get it for you. She was over the moon - she loved it - something so simple, but so her.
 
Nina Jay
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John Weiland wrote:

Does she travel??....is there a way that, when she is away from her home, you could reciprocate 'in kind' with your own interpretation of "better"??

..    



Thanks, it's a really funny thought and I had a good laugh!  

But I have no desire to do anything like that, not anymore. I'm in my forties now and I just accept that my mother is the way she is and mostly I just laugh at her. I do have to be careful and not accept too many things from her but it's become a routine, I do it almost automatically and it doesn't bother me that much. We don't fight anymore. She hasn't really learned anything and she doesn't show any more respect towards me, she still constantly keeps trying to run our lives. And I constantly tell her no, we don't want that/ thanks but no thanks/ we have other plans then/ please return these curtains you bought for us, we don't like them/ I'm not going to ever wear the dress you bought me so you might as well take it to recycling, etc. She doesn't get offended, she just backs off for a few weeks and then returns with new things. We are characters in a comedy series -  that's how I see it nowadays   .

My poor sister-in-law has some real problems with my mother (her mother-in law) though. She is a professional therapist and she believes she can get through to my mother and make her see her point of view eventually. I try to hint her that really she is wasting her time and energy as her mother-in-law is just a hopeless case. But hopefully I can offer my sister-in-law some therapy, because I certainly understand what she is dealing with.

The problems I described in my original and following posts are not with my mother, they are with my other relatives who I consider to be normal-enough people  and from whom I  therefore expect a lot more empathy/ manners than from my mother who is just plain hopeless.
 
Nina Jay
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:At the end of the day we can only control what we feel, what we value, and what we truly need.  We cannot change others feelings, values or needs, nor can we expect everyone to see things as we do.  What we can do is CHOOSE to NOT feel guilty, regretful, angry....That is the key, you will never go wrong if you do what is right for you. We can choose to be a victim, or we can choose to not be a victim.  We are all grown ups here, time to put on our big girl/boy pants and stop allowing others to treat us like naughty children - no temper tantrums, whining, or pity parties - if you choose to not do something, just don't do it.  No one can MAKE you do or feel anything, that is your choice, choose to be proud of your decisions, proud of your values, proud of the life you are creating for your family.  Choose to not feel remorse, guilt, anger etc., choose to be happy!
.



That is all very true. Although perhaps I would modify it a bit by saying it that you may not choose your initial feelings in every situation, but you do choose whether or not you want to continue feeling that way after you have analysed the feeling and know where it is coming from. "Do I choose to continue to hold on to these thoughts that lead to these feelings", that's where I think the choice is if one wants to be really precise  

Negative feelings like guilt and anger are not something I personally want to hold on to. But, I do try to analyse them first and see what's behind them. Eg. with guilt I try to examine whether or not there is actually some valid reason for me to feel guilty. Otherwise how can I correct my behaviour - and I might need to do that because I'm after all far from perfect  
 
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Nina Jay wrote:perhaps I would modify it a bit by saying it that you may not choose your initial feelings in every situation, but you do choose whether or not you want to continue feeling that way after you have analysed the feeling and know where it is coming from. "Do I choose to continue to hold on to these thoughts that lead to these feelings", that's where I think the choice is if one wants to be really precise  



In my experience this may be easier for some people than others.  I find that even if I have thought through the situation, even for years, I may still have the same feelings and thoughts about it.  They don't go away, but I cease to take them very seriously.  Maybe they will go away eventually, but it has not happened so far.  It could be I have an unusually low ability to control my thoughts and feelings.
 
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`My wife and i went through similar during the 80s when we moved off the grid into the backwoods of West Virginia for ten years. My family was basically in Chicago (boo chi-town) and hers was in Northern Calif. Needless to say, visiting was virtually impossible.

That said - and assuming it is POSSIBLE for you to visit, even if it is a great inconvenience, i really think you need to stop lying to them.

Telling them you are SICK??? Well - THERE'S a great advertisement for the health of your lifestyle - and i'm guessing health and such are important parts of your reasons to live this way in reality.

Maybe there is some parallel situation they may be able to relate to - jetting off to Hawaii or Borneo several times per year and spending thousands on accomodations....i don't know. It should reflect their dream and show the difficulty of incessant output on your part.

That's my two cents.  They tried to get us to come on out, but while i love my family, there is a reason we moved so far away - and raising our kids OUR way (as not being possessions, or teaching them to fulfill some dream i didn't catch, or....) was a critical aspect. We just wanted to do it in the woods and raise our food.
 
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Sometimes I wonder if family/friends get defensive/angry about a choice we make, that they are really just acting that way because they feel guilt.

I noticed this when I would hang out with friends that drank. I've never drank, I don't want to drink, and I know I'm prone to addictions so I just don't drink. But, when people see me not drink, they almost always get defensive about their drinking &/or try to make me drink. Even though I have no problem with their drinking, I think they see me as "taking the high road" and get defensive or try to convert me to drinking.

So, when we make choices that seem more morally superior--like reducing our eco footprint or being frugal--some people get defensive. They shouldn't feel the need to, because you're not condemning them and you're okay with them making their choices. But, they create their own guilt (I can't blame them, I've felt the same impulse here on these boards when confronted with the idea of not-having-kids-to-save the earth. It felt more morally superior to my own choices, and I felt a lot of guilt).

I've found that, when in these sorts of instances where people get defensive because of my choices, that it really relieves the social pressure when I just "put myself down" (not the best wording, but I can't think of anything better). For instance, when people try to get me to drink, I just talk about how hyper I am and how they wouldn't want to see me drink and how I've got an addictive personality and don't think I can handle restraining myself if I started drinking. I don't talk about any moral reason for not drinking. This tends to stop people from talking about it.

So, in the case of frugality, you could just say something like, "I can't handle the stress of city life and working a 9-5 job, and so I moved out here. I'm so impressed that you can! I really wish I had more money to give such lovely gifts like you, but I just am not able." This--hopefully--makes them feel better for their choices. Sure, it's not the whole truth. But, they couldn't handle the truth anyway. Maybe one day they'll see more of the wonderful reasons for why you make the choices you do. But, for now, peace is kept.

I don't know if it's the right way to fix this sort of situation, but it works for me usually. Or, at least I think it does... Social skills aren't really my forte... And, I don't really know if it's really the right option to put-oneself-down to keep peace, but it's been working for me...
 
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I had 1 family member who was very vocal that I needed to conform to normal standards... She let everyone know how everyone would catch e-coli and worms from my produce.   I resolved it...  I threw a cup of sawdust into the toilet instead of flushing it when I attended her daughter's wedding.   When she became loud and pointed out that I was a jerk for doing so, I just said that her ways pushed on me made about as much sense as my ways pushed on her.

From then on, no family member has tried to push the "old" ways upon me.   And actually, we are far more relaxed with each other now without all the gift giving requirements, etc.   I promise not to bring my own sawdust to their house, they promise not to force their world onto me.

 
Nina Jay
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

In my experience this may be easier for some people than others.  I find that even if I have thought through the situation, even for years, I may still have the same feelings and thoughts about it.  They don't go away, but I cease to take them very seriously.  Maybe they will go away eventually, but it has not happened so far.  It could be I have an unusually low ability to control my thoughts and feelings.



There is one technique that may help, I've read about it in some self-help book and tried it with some success.

First you write down your thoughts and feelings. Then you analyse them to see if they are actually true. Then you ask yourself: Will holding on to this thought give me more of what I hope and deserve in life. If the answer is no, then you rewrite those thoughts. You replace them with a better thought and keep saying that to yourself.

For example, if you find yourself thinking "I'm a failure/ a loser" but after analysing come to the conclusion that it's not true and holding on to this thought will not bring anything good, then you write down an alternative thought like "I'm a quality human being who has suffered but can now be healed". Then you keep saying this alternative thought to yourself every time when the thought "I'm a failure" tries to crawl back into your head.

It's not a 100 percent effective technique but it has helped me a lot.
 
Nina Jay
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I have to add to my previous post that since many of these negative/ non-constructive thoughts that we have are "over-learned" and have become automatic thoughts, it can take a lot of repeting the new ones before the old thoughts actually begin to go away. It's just like in sports where if you learn a "wrong" movement and try to correct it, you have to repeat the new correct way of moving at least a hundred times before it comes automatically.

And some thoughts are harder to get rid of than others. In my own case, there have been many negative thoughts that I've been able to replace relatively easily ("I'm a failure" was one of them) but then there are some that are incredibly persistent. Some are so resilient (not in a good way!) that even though I can come up with an alternative thought I find I have to force myself to write it down! There is so much inner resistance to the new way of thinking, even though I know the old one is screwed.

Bottom line: It's not easy and my sympathies are with everyone who struggles with these things and tries to work on themselves. You are wonderful people.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Nina.  
 
John Weiland
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@Nina J.: "...even though I can come up with an alternative thought I find I have to force myself to write it down! There is so much inner resistance to the new way of thinking, even though I know the old one is screwed."

Logic and reasoning help point one in the right direction, but nothing is so expedient as the "automatic thoughts" that get built into our being from day 1.  Your mind decides "It's better that I take this new approach...." but your body is saying "..but this older way has helped me to survive all these years!".  The two will often be diametrically opposed and as you noted, repetition....sometimes over many years and with great effort...will be needed to make substantial and lasting change.  Thanks for the supportive thread and message.
 
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I'm learning that I have to live my life for me.  I can NEVER succeed in making everyone happy even if I tried to live to their standards/ideals (because some of them disagree too!).  Since I can't make everyone happy, I better work to at least keep myself happy.  My husband and I work together on decisions but we stand by the lifestyle we're choosing and hope that those who love us will be happy that we are happy.  {We get that there is worry - fear of the unknown is tough for us all.  And we appreciate concern for us, but not judgment.}

Besides, if you're not living your truth, who are you?  I'm choosing to live my truth, and that truth can change as I see fit.  I am done trying to become something I think someone else wants me to be.  I could be wrongly assuming their desires anyway, then what a waste my life would be.  

It can be hard to stay true to you when others complain, cajole, criticize.  But knowing you are happy makes it easier.  Hang tough.  And, like my husband always says, "Stick it out.  Usually within 2-3 years a-holes drift away or others help them change."  As long as you're not the a-hole, no worries!

Jami

 
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Full disclosure: I'm an asshole, so you should keep that in mind when reading my posts.

I have a very loving family but none of them 'gets' me.  I'm an entrepreneur and the rest of my family are great employees.  I don't have a lot of money, but even if I did, I wouldn't live like them.  I don't have any issues with how they live, but they're all examples of the North American norm, so that's to be expected, but they all think I'm nuts.  Funny thing is that my mom immigrated from Holland when she was 5 and her family was basically in indentured servitude for several years before they could afford to lease a farm.  Even when I was young (I'm the oldest), we didn't have a lot of money and most of the clothes I wore until I was in high school were passed down to 4 cousins before they got to me.  My brother is 18 months younger but he almost always got new clothes as the hand-me-downs were worn out after I used them (I was, admittedly, hard on clothes, but 3 of my cousins lived on a farm, so the clothes were certainly well-worn by the time they got to me).  I think that this is actually the reason that my family and extended family can be so uptight, like they don't want to admit that my mom's family didn't have a pot to piss in.  It does get to me that my mom buys meat from Costco when she was raised on a farm and personally prepared pretty much everything we ate when I was young.  She taught me how to cook, showed me how good canned and homemade food was, and she still cans (though I help her with it now), but my mom and dad eat crap.  She loves the eggs, chicken, rabbit and quail that I bring over, and I know she knows how good food can be, but they still buy crap.  I don't think my brother and sister remember the lean times and, while I love them to bits, they are sooo into the rat race.  I've got an engineering degree from one of the top universities in Canada, but they think I'm an idiot.  I am, but not in the way they think .

Over the years I've figured out the best way for me to handle it; I ignore it.  I asked that they stop buying me presents for my birthday and Christmas, but they still do.  They know I can't afford to buy them anything, but they think they have to buy me stuff because I'm broke.  I don't need what they buy me and sometimes I can't use what they buy me, but they think I do, so they buy it.  It makes them feel better, so I just accept it.  I can't change them so I just accept as gracefully as possible.  It does suck being thought of as a charity case throughout half my extended family, but there's not much I can do about it and about half of my extended family understands where I'm coming from, likely because they're either farmers, former farmers, or skilled labour.  

When it comes to giving gifts, I'm lucky that I only have to buy for 1 nephew and 1 niece, but I'd love to have more.  They have everything they could ask for, and more, so I feel very comfortable giving them what I want to give them.  For the last few years, I've given them silver or gold.  I got them interested in silver with some cool coins from our mint and even more interested when I gave them gold half sovereigns from the 1800s when I was a little flush.  They toys and games will be long forgotten in a year or so, but the silver and gold will help them with whatever they want to do when they're done high school.  I actually started off by giving them 10 Billion Zimbabwean dollars and, when they asked, taught them about currency, inflation and value.  I view it as a little island in the great big sea of consumerism.

I'm also guilty of sedition.  I talk to them about my values and world view.  Last month I had my cousin's son help me with my parents' bathroom reno.  I brought some quail eggs for him to try, then some quail and then rabbit.  I don't push an agenda, just tell them how I view the world.  I think that the different frame of reference at least gets them thinking.

I have had to come to terms with all of this; accepting that my lifestyle isn't even relate-able to my family and that I'll be looked 'down upon' by my family.  I have come to believe that it isn't my failing, but their failure to accept my differences.  It's going to be even more difficult as I'm looking to move 2000 kms away (or possibly Africa) to start farming.  I've been my parents' main support for years, which has been an increasing time commitment as they've gotten older, but I've got to live my own life, so I've had to come to grips with that.

As a Canadian, it's a much different scenario than you have.  I often drive more than 200 kms round trip several times a week to my parents' house.  I know our gas is a lot cheaper than in Finland, but it still adds up.  I also had to stop calling my family because I couldn't afford to, so they now have to call me.  In the past, I'd have been embarrassed about that, but I've realised that that's my life and I don't have to appologise for it.  

In the future, I expect that my presents will be mostly home-made and that I'll see my family even less.  As someone who does a little blacksmithing, I can't imagine someone not being thrilled to get a home-made knife, but most kids can't even begin to understand the effort that goes into something like that or even jams, jellies or other home-made goods.  I'd say keep giving those gifts because you'll plant a seed either for wanting to do that when they get older or, at very least, show them how good things can be.  To this day, I won't eat store-bought jam or applesauce because my mom ruined me with hers.  

I've let my brother fly me out to Vancouver a few times now, which still bothers me, but he uses his airmiles, which somehow makes it easier for me to accept.  It's charity, but I get to see my nephew and niece, so it's worth it, and I spent last December as a general contractor for my brother's renos, as well as doing a lot of the work myself.  I think that I've found peace in accepting their charity because it allows me to spend time with them that I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

In the end, I think it comes down to you accepting that your lifestyle is right for you and understanding that, even if nobody in your family understands that it's the right path for you, their lack of understanding or acceptance really has no bearing on how you live your life.  I agree with the other posters that say you shouldn't be apologetic for your choices, but I'll leave it to them to help you communicate that, as I tend to lean towards telling people to go F themselves, and that's only if I think I owe them a response.   As I said, I'm an asshole.

I wish you the best of luck dealing with your family; I know how difficult that can be even with a family that loves you.

Mark
 
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Nina Jay wrote:

John Weiland wrote:

Does she travel??....is there a way that, when she is away from her home, you could reciprocate 'in kind' with your own interpretation of "better"??

..    



Thanks, it's a really funny thought and I had a good laugh!  

But I have no desire to do anything like that, not anymore. I'm in my forties now and I just accept that my mother is the way she is and mostly I just laugh at her. I do have to be careful and not accept too many things from her but it's become a routine, I do it almost automatically and it doesn't bother me that much. We don't fight anymore. She hasn't really learned anything and she doesn't show any more respect towards me, she still constantly keeps trying to run our lives. And I constantly tell her no, we don't want that/ thanks but no thanks/ we have other plans then/ please return these curtains you bought for us, we don't like them/ I'm not going to ever wear the dress you bought me so you might as well take it to recycling, etc. She doesn't get offended, she just backs off for a few weeks and then returns with new things. We are characters in a comedy series -  that's how I see it nowadays   .

My poor sister-in-law has some real problems with my mother (her mother-in law) though. She is a professional therapist and she believes she can get through to my mother and make her see her point of view eventually. I try to hint her that really she is wasting her time and energy as her mother-in-law is just a hopeless case. But hopefully I can offer my sister-in-law some therapy, because I certainly understand what she is dealing with.

The problems I described in my original and following posts are not with my mother, they are with my other relatives who I consider to be normal-enough people  and from whom I  therefore expect a lot more empathy/ manners than from my mother who is just plain hopeless.



Beautifull post Nina... saw myself in it a few times, had a nice laugh, more even with the other posts on this thread...

 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

In my life, there is the family that I was born into, and the family that I have chosen. I didn't have any choice about my birth family, so they have to take me exactly how I am today. If they get hurt feelings about something, then that seems like a defect in their personalities, and they really aught to work on it, because it is their problem not mine. If I feel guilty about interacting with them, then that is my problem, and I really aught to work on it, because that is my problem, and not theirs. If they can't be gracious to me, then I really don't have any space in my life for them. My chosen family would never ever criticize me regarding gift giving, or the lack thereof. My chosen family applauds my lifestyle, my vow of poverty, and my choice to grow my own food rather than to buy it from The Corporation.





I really feel this way about my family right now.  My family is refusing to come see my husband, children, and father-in-law because we live in his home on acreage.  They feel "uncomfortable".  My father-in-law had a stroke and a heart attack and we moved to care for him.  In my eyes we are doing what is honorable, right, and just.  In their eyes I am sacrificing too much.  Don't get me wrong, it is a lot between the acreage, animals, caring for him and caring for my children but I feel that I am looking to the future.  I would truly like to see us turn his property into a self-sustaining place (unbeknownst to my family...they would flip  I have friends who are much more supportive and they accept me as I am today.  So I agree that sometimes it is a defect in our families personalities that they cannot accept our decisions because it is not what they want us to do...
 
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I had this issue before, and after a while I decided, I will not go broke just because of someone's expectations, demands or opinions.  That's why I made a video on this a few month ago.  
  I have loads more videos on my "My frugal life" channel.
 
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My spouse went disabled and retired a good 20 years before we expected him to. Other things bled us, and we ended up where we are now. On fixed income means no pay raises for about two decades. This hurts. We can't afford to run around to the relatives or send a gift to every card and announcement. We just can't. I recently had to make a run north as the hospice nurse called about my mom and said NOW. Her sister my aunt called and said NOW. I said HOW?  I managed to scrape enough to get up there but I will be sorting that out for months to come. I had a good long talk with that aunt and she hopefully gained an understanding on why my first reaction was that. I had to reduce our income need and I do not have the resources period. She took a long time to understand that I couldn't afford that (deleted) expensive plane ticket even at bereavement rates and the method I did choose still hurt. I did give her the option to buy me the ticket and for some reason I didn't see one... (I did get up there in time though)

Critters or gardens, are great excuses for not travelling. This year we're growing a truck garden to sell to the town; and my husband is just beginning to understand how much work is involved and someone will have to stay here with it, period. Through late fall. Oh yes. Then the weather clamps down and that is another good one. To visit most of those relatives is 4-5 states away, a good two days travel. We kind of like it like that. I am at least skilled enough to produce a gift if I need to, even one that looks like it was purchased (hello, I sell stuff?)  These days we lean on technology if we want to stay in touch.

I prefer not to say frugal, but resource reduced. Frugal is things like repurposing, spending money for something that will last (buy the quality), and choosing to do activities that don't cost (no I don't have any desire to do a cruise. I could spend that on that fence I need!). Time is a resource as well. Hey, I'd LIKE a brand new car, I sure can't afford one (taxes, insurance, tags, etc). My old one runs, I repair it myself, and it's paid for, cheap to insure and tag, and that's how I like it. If I really like you I vacuumed it, cleaned under the seat, and everything. (around here I'm used to someone offering a lift and moving enough stuff to sit down, that's how it goes).

Alternate way of life. (I prefer that to a SIL that has never liked me labeling us as C-H-E-A-P) Just I have enough with less income stream. It also involves weeds, bugs, acreage, and 30 year old cars. I'm not dressing fashion, it's serviceable, clean, and I'm covered. Sure you can pull up a fork, I can cook about as well as what few places to eat out here can offer. Oh. You think I need to gift you? Okay. Lemme get some stuff out here... c'mon you can say it is a one of a kind signed original, honest. (nope no receipt to return it somewhere either, I think that is the issue sometimes).

I'm happy, I don't need your validation. I used to live big urban rat race complete with ulcers. I like this better. Less bills, less worry, more happy. Try it. Heh.
 
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