It can be a challenge to navigate life with difficult people. Be it an ex spouse or an awkward family member, we face difficult interactions often.
In this episode bonus mom and blended family coach, Brittany P, shares her insights around how to maintain peace while engaging with difficult people.
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This week on my podcast, I'm talking with Brittany Phillips. She is a life coach for those that are in blended families and navigating all the challenges that come with that. We had such an amazing conversation about how to have conversations with people that you might be in a high conflict relationship with. And even though we're talking about it through the lens of the blended family, I think the things that we talk about in this episode really can apply to multiple relationships. So I hope you enjoy. All right. Here's more with Brittany.
Well, hello and welcome back. So I am super excited to have Brittany Phillips on the show. Brittany is a mom of four in a yours, mine, and ours family dynamic. And she is also a certified coach and teacher. She has personal experience in blending her own family and has spent years learning strategies at the school of hard knocks. Her approach is centered around empowering women to strengthen themselves, which ultimately influences and benefits the whole family. And fun fact, Brittany and I met like over 20 years ago when we were both going to college. And then life happened and we kind of fell out of touch. And now we're both coaches and changing the world one life at a time. And I just love that for us. So welcome, Brittany. Thank you so much. It's fun to see you again, like almost in person. Super fun to reconnect. I love it. So I really wanted to have Brittany on after seeing one of her Instagram posts about navigating life with people that you don't necessarily get along with. And I'm sure that you see that a lot in your practice. And I know I see it in mine. So first, I kind of like to know, like, how does this show up in your coaching practice? And what does that look like? Yeah, so I work with moms who are in blended families. And a lot of times they will have like an ex partner or they're They're new partners X. and a lot of times that can be really complicated relationship. A lot of tough feelings that are still pretty raw a lot of the time. So it can get really, really tricky. High conflict relationships. I see that a lot. So, so that comes up. That's something I talk about on a very regular basis. How to get along with someone that you don't. Want to get along with for the sake of the kids. Yeah. And I find that so interesting. Like when I saw your post about that, I was like, Oh goodness. Cause I work with the helpers, the healers and the people pleasers, and we just want everybody to like us. And I'm sure that that's similar, but also a little bit different in the blended family experience, because maybe you don't actually even want to like them, but you still have to work with them. Yeah, absolutely. And actually, I love that you work with the the people pleasing of the world because those are kind of my people to the people pleasing stepmoms and things like that. So it is hard to figure out how to navigate that relationship, especially if you're used to like wanting to have everyone around you be happy all the time. And you're like, I I don't want nothing to do with this person. Yeah. Yeah. Cause especially with the population that you work with, then yeah, of course we want everybody to be happy, but you work with people when they're going through such a major life transition. So all of the emotions are heightened. I'm sure there's a lot of conflict resolution, well, hopefully resolution happening in all these conversations. So is it possible to still navigate life with people that you don't necessarily want to be in a relationship with? And what does that look like? Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. It can be hard, especially if you're, um, don't have the tools, don't know how to go through that. But I think that where it really starts is really understanding and being in tune with what your needs are. What you want, what's your vision and then doing what you can to make that happen. so honing in on what I can control and what I can't control. I can't control how they react. I can't control what they do or they don't do. But I can't control how I communicate to them and how I respond to whatever they're doing. Right. And so getting really clear on what it is I even want. Having that respectful communication, we kind of mentioned already, but you know, I don't have to be best friends with someone to have a respectful conversation. Yeah. Yeah. So how do you handle it when your clients come to you? Cause I hear this all the time when I practice, but what I want is just for everybody to get along. Like, how do you navigate that when maybe you just are going to be on different pages? Right? Yeah, sometimes you won't get along. And, that is a hard, mental shift that you've got to make, understanding that maybe we won't ever See it the same way. Yeah. Um, and that's okay. Like usually that a person is your ex person for a reason. Possibly it's because you couldn't see eye to eye on something. And so, just wrapping your brain around the idea that you might not ever do it the same way. You might not pair it in the same way you might be completely different. And that's okay. It's okay for us to be different. And that's where we're created. Or is to have different personalities and opinions and ideas. But maybe when my kids are at their other parents house, it's going to look different. I can't control that. I can't control what happens in my house. we have our own set of rules and things like that. So the communication, I, I may not agree with what you're doing. But I can at least have some respect. I can talk in a kind way. I like to think of it as I used to work in customer service. I was thinking about this morning at like a copy shop and I would get customers all the time. They would come in and I don't know why they would just be angry all the time. Like just people like you could just feel this anger. But I was, working. I was getting paid to be there, so I had to be professional. Yeah. And that's how I like to think of these complicated relationships, as just kind of a professional relationship where, I try to keep my cool. I'm not gonna react or have a huge reaction to their emotions. I'm just gonna stay as neutral as possible, but also stating what I can and can't do for that person in the situation. Yeah, yeah, I love that so much, because when you can just flip it to... We don't have to get along, but we can still cooperate. And I think that also helps, as you talked about recognizing what things are and are not in your control. And I remember coaching someone recently where I kind of had to point out to them. Okay. There's actually two things happening. Like, like pick what your focus is, because right now there's a lot of energy being invested into the other person's perception of you that's out of your control, but then there's also this happening with the kids. That maybe that's something that you do actually have some control over. So picking like, okay, recognizing, am I choosing to invest my time and energy into the part of this dynamic that I have zero control over and what is that creating for me? Or am I keeping my eye on the prize, treating this as a professional relationship and focusing on, okay, what is it that I can actually control in this situation? I really appreciate that idea of just shifting that mindset a little bit. Yeah, that's a huge thing for especially moms and blended families where they feel like everybody's telling them which way to go and like just being pulled in every direction and that's a super common feeling of like, I have no control. I don't even have a life anymore. Right? I'm just doing what everybody's telling me to do. And so that's a way to finally, feel like you have your life back is to really focusing on Where my control really is, so my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my, I can't really have some influence over some other things like my kids. There's some influence there, but I have, I don't have complete control, right? Even if you're just in a regular nuclear family, you don't have complete control over your kids. Yeah, I appreciate that. And can you talk a little bit about, you know, around the idea of control? How do boundaries play a role? Because, you know, we do have our boundaries that are something that we can control, but oftentimes, we really want to accuse the other person of, No, but you keep messing with my boundaries. So how, can you talk a little bit to that? Yeah, so I, I think that's a common misconception is a boundary is like trying to control somebody else. Mm hmm. And it really is like, Drawing the line for me like this is where I end and you begin right so it's just becoming really clear about what my needs are and and how I'm going to what am I going to do to make sure Those needs are being met. Um, it's not, if you do this, then you're gonna have to do, da da da da da. It's, if this happens, here's what I will do. So it's really, again, going back to where I'm controlling, it's, um, I'm trying to think of an example really quick. So if you continue to speak to me in that tone, I will have to hang up the phone and then we can talk about this later. Really, back to what, what I'm doing, not accusing, but I'm not going to put up with. That disrespect. And then we can talk about it when we're both calm. Yeah. I, I love that example because you're essentially giving the person the choice. Right. It's like, you know what I'm going to do if you continue to speak this way and you can choose to continue to speak this way or not, that's your choice. And my choice is what I'm going to do. If you do continue to speak to me this way. Yes. Yes. Yes. A lot of times people try to, set a boundary and then like. Put it on the other person and then they're like, well, my boundary never works. It's because you're trying to control what the other person is doing. If you talk, I'm not going to take it. If you keep talking to me, like you're not saying what you will do. So hanging up is imperative in that piece because that's something I have control over. Yeah. Yeah. So tell me a bit more about, cause I know what the ideal is that you can get to that place where you can communicate in a very professional tone and still do what's best for the kids or figure out all the things are in these high conflict situations. But how do you get to that place? Like, do you have any practical tools on how to get to that place of calm when you know, you're going into a situation where you might feel yourself, you know, triggered and emotionally charged? Like how can you get yourself to that place of calm so that you can have those calm interactions? that could be tough, depending on where you're at in the, in the process. I think forgiveness is actually a huge piece of that, which can take years, let's be honest, like depending on how complicated the relationship is. but I felt like I'll just give you a personal example. My husband and I, sometimes we lean on each other. Like I know I'm going to have this conversation. I am heated about it right now. Can you help me talk through this? Right? So having a person that you can work through those feelings with beforehand, if you already know it's going to be something that's going to be triggering. Sometimes if we're like on a text thread or something and we'll be talking like, okay, here's what I want to say, but I know that's not going to get the best response. Can you help me say this in a nicer way? Right? Like, I don't know how to say this kindly right now. texting can actually be really helpful for that. So I'd have a minute to think about my response. Yeah. another thing, if you're texting or I'm using some other kind of app to communicate, which I actually, think is a really good thing for people who are trying to co parent. Is to just, if you are feeling like your heart's just racing and you want to be mean, put it down and, and wait to respond, take a few moments, get grounded again, right? Do some meditation if you need to affirmations. That's that's really helpful. Like, this is for the kids. I'm, I'm. doing this for them. This isn't for me. This isn't about them. This is about whatever the bigger picture is. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. Cause even as we're talking about this in terms of a blended family dynamic, it applies to so many situations, right? Everybody has to work with difficult people. It might be at work or it might be that family member. It might be somebody. But this is so applicable to everybody. And I love how you talked about finding a safe space ahead of time, knowing like being consciously aware enough to know, okay, I'm going into this and this might be a little challenging. So I'm going to take this to somebody who I can trust and lean on them, as you said, and process a little bit. Okay. This is what I'm bracing for. This is where I'm at and kind of deciding ahead of time, how you want to show up, finding your words. And as you were talking, I was even thinking. Oh, I have used chat GPT so many times to be like, okay, please make this more professional go and using those tools to help you take out any emotionally charged statements or word things in a way that's a little bit less accusatory, like keeping it to the facts. Cause when we're feeling emotionally charged, the tendency is to bring that into the conversation. And then it becomes more about who's right instead of what's right. It just gets very muddied. And then I liked your idea too, of just taking time to respond that I, you know, oftentimes it does benefit both parties to have the communication be via text or email so that you can each have time to respond and think through your words and figure out how do I want to show up, especially if it's a situation where you find yourself more charged when you're in their physical presence and that that's a challenge. Like just finding those other ways to communicate. Yeah. Yeah. I also, while you're talking, I was thinking about the holidays are coming up and most of us have like a family member that just says things that you're like, why would you even say that? Right. That can be really triggering or just like the dumbest things come out of their mouth. And you're like, what, what is that about? Um, and so thinking about that is for going into like Thanksgiving and you're going to see your answer. Thanks. Um, Just keeping in mind that a lot of times people say things not because of you, but because of something that's going on with them. And when I can remember that that helps me a lot, like this isn't about me at all. This is about Something from their past that they're being triggered or, um, something that they're judging themselves on. And so that, that really helps me like, okay, it's going to be okay. You're, you know, or if I go to church and someone says some comment, I'm like, that does not help a comment, but I can let it go because I recognize that it's not actually a personal attack. It's something that they're going through. Yeah. Yeah. That's so true. And I love that you're already preparing for the holidays. I know there've been situations where I've been like, okay, I know I'm going to be spending time in this person's presence. I know what questions they're going to be asking. I know what my triggers are and then deciding ahead of time, even how do I want to navigate that? Like if that conversation comes up at the dinner table, what do I want to do? Okay, I think I'm going to pick up my pie and move to the kid table, you know, like just kind of thinking through what are my options or hey, I think it's time for a walk, you know, just, just figuring out how can I self regulate in that moment rather than making it, you made me upset, but what do I want to do proactively to keep myself safe, to show up in the way that I want to show up? Because again, as you said, that's the only thing we actually do have control over. Yeah, absolutely. And when we can regulate ourselves like you're talking about, like that is where our power is. I mean, that's. That's the ultimate goal. Yeah, right. Other people will do what they may. It might be chaos around us, but if I can regulate myself, I am winning. Yeah, yeah. And to recognize that, yes, I am learning how to self regulate, and it is a process. And this is just a season of life, or this is just a relationship. I'm choosing to learn how to navigate peacefully. Can help to remind yourself that, okay, yes, it's going to take some time, but I can learn how to do this. I've seen other people learn how to do this. It's going to be okay. It's a process, but I'm, I'm up for the challenge. Yeah. Yeah. And I think a lot of us weren't taught very well how to do that. Right. So, like, especially like in our age group, like people are like. All trying to figure it out at the same time. So let's give each other some grace as we work on it together. Right. Learn to feel our feelings without pointing blame at other people. And yeah, because we were taught essentially to keep the peace. Right. So it's like, do whatever you need to do, smile and nod and agree with someone that you really disagree with to keep the peace. But then conflict with self. So you're either going to have conflict with a person or conflict with himself. But guess what? You can control that conflict within self. It's okay to find those ways to show up in your own integrity and work towards that goal. Yeah. Okay. I have some rapid fire questions for you. You ready? Okay. Let's do it. Okay. So what has been the most surprising thing for you about being a bonus mom in a blended family? Um, you want truth, right? Big questions, I know. Uh, the most surprising thing for me was how hard it was going to be. Yeah. Um, I thought we would instantly just all connect and it would be like this little picture perfect family, and it wasn't. It was, it was hard that some of those connections didn't happen as quickly as I wanted or the way I hoped. Yeah. So kind of having to manage my expectations. Yeah. Yeah. And I remember seeing a post that you did once about how like, no, like I'm a teacher, like I know how to work with kids. People like me. I know you, I like you. I'm like, yeah, sure. Brittany can get along with everybody, but it's so interesting. We said, yeah, everybody's going to have their own thoughts and experiences and timelines and, and we just don't know. So yeah. Thank you for sharing. Next question is what is your current favorite form of self care? Um, right now, just the last couple of months, actually, I've been going on a walk every day and I'm like, really nervous about the winter, but that's been my favorite form of self care, like to get away my kids for a minute. For kids at home still and, um, just get the quiet and I will sometimes catch a sunrise or a sunset and just trying to like soak in the present and have that quiet. So I'll sometimes I'll listen to my audiobook or something too, but that's my favorite way right now. Oh, I love it. That totally resonates with me. Yeah. I'm getting nervous for winter too. Cause I just, I need my nature. And so I like, literally, I just got in the mail, my, um, full spectrum daylight light bulbs for mood. And I'm like, Hey, we're putting one in every single room in the house because I, I'm not ready. I'm going to do what I can to get ready. So I'm like, Oh, I know how much I need that nature. So I love that. That totally resonates. And then next question. If you had one message that you wanted people to take away from this conversation, what would it be? Um, that you, not everybody has to like you Yeah. And if there's someone in your life that you're having a hard time having a relationship with, that's okay. Um, they could still be respectful, right? As people pleasers, if that's who we are, that's who I am too, recovering people pleaser. Um, you're always wanting or looking for ways to make people be happy with your choices and what you're doing. And you don't have to have that all the time. You can choose to just be yourself and they can be themselves. And that's okay. And just to kind of let that be. So I guess that would be my big takeaway, not everyone has to like you. Yeah, I love that. And isn't it interesting that once you can let go of the idea that everybody has to like you, how much more peace you can experience? Yeah, yeah. I thought the peace would come from everybody liking me, but actually the peace comes from being okay with being like, okay, I'm not their person, and that's okay. Right. They're not entirely my person either, and that's okay. Right, right. We can't all be favorites. That's right. So where can people find you? I am on Instagram and TikTok. My handle is it's me, Brittany P. Um, you'll want to make sure you spell Brittany right, B R I T T, anyway. Uh, my website is blendingbravely. com, and you can grab any of my freebies or anything on there. Um, And I'm happy to message with anyone if you have questions. So that's awesome. Yeah. And I will put all of Brittany's contact information and links to her freebies and everything in the show notes. So you can find her there, but yeah, she has amazing content and super cute videos. So totally go and find her. She's a lot of fun. So thank you. Well, thank you so much for coming on, Brittany. It was really nice to visit with you again and become reacquainted in the coaching world. I agree. Thanks so much for having me on. It's been a pleasure. You have a great week, everybody. Bye now.