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Anxiety when I'm around my dad.

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  • Anxiety when I'm around my dad.

    I sometimes spend time with my Dad and I often get anxiety. Basically he can talk at me for 5-20 minutes about random topics, without me saying a word. Or when I ride in the car with him he'll complain and be angry towards drivers, or if he gets really mad at them he'll drive like a maniac for a short burst. Also, I'm struggling to find things to talk about since I've become a Buddhist and the quantity of thoughts has decreased a lot. What do you guys talk about with people?

  • #2
    Hey Billy,

    I can relate. Being around my mom or dad I tend to be very anxious as well. One of my theories is that since I received a massive amount of conditioning from these two people, my current ways of thought are at odds with the conditioned thoughts I was brought up with. I love my parents deeply, but I try and limit my time with them for this reason. It simply isn't good for me to be around them, and for them to be with me, for too long a period of time. When I feel myself getting very anxious, I simply get up and leave. Hard to do, maybe if you live with someone. Luckily for me, I do not.

    So far as what to talk about with people. Well, I think this is where the Buddha's words to Ananda regarding friends being the whole of the holy life come into play. In my experience, it is nigh on impossible to lead a life on this path and keep close friends who aren't. I don't like it, but for my experience, it is true. Again, like my parents, I limit my exposure to friends who are not on the path. Regardless, I'm still an idiot who can't manage a "holy life" most of the time anyway! My suggestion to you beside this is...don't talk about religion, race relations, gender equality or politics. Good luck my friend!

    With metta and a smile


    • #3
      I think if you remember what the Buddha said about Right Speech - an element of the 8fold path - that it includes avoiding frivolous chatter about worldly topics - good friends, whether Buddhist or not, will come in time to appreciate it. If you cultivate depth in your speech, you will speak to something inside them that they will recognize, and they will respect you for it. Right speech, in my view, includes speech which demonstrates your caring for others and understanding the dukkha in their lives which is behind the superficial chatter most people engage in. This addresses a real human need. Of course, you need wisdom to know how and when to speak to others in this way. This wisdom can be cultivated. I think it's worth the effort. The power of metta is quite wonderful!

      Best of luck!


      • #4
        Hey Jerrod. Thanks for getting back to me. I do think I need to limit contact. Although I think spiritual friends are important. It seems kinda bleak to me to renounce non spiritual friends. I thought Buddhism was about love for all beings.

        Hey Rory. Well I'm not one who chatters much at all, so I'm not too worried about frivolous chatter. And I do try to suggest things when I see something I can understand. But if you look at Ajahn Brahm for instance, he's sarcastic, funny, expressive. And sometimes just for the heck of it. So I don't see anything wrong with finding our inner mojo and letting it out. Not everything has to be serious business. Anyways, thanks for getting back to me.


        • #5
          I cannot even be around my parents at all anymore. My mother is just this walking barrage of negativity and complaining about everything with no breaks in between. It does my head in after a while. Its like she has absolutely no idea how to be still and just enjoy the moment. Last time I tried to talk with her about it she reverted to hurt child mode and accused me of bullying her. She then became verbally abusive. My father is bitter and miserable about his failed marriage and wastes his life in the bottle. He never communicates with me and so I gave up bothering to communicate with him.
          I recently sent them both an email letting them know that although I dont agree with their parenting style (because as far as Im concerned it was abusive) I hold no resentment, and that I love them both very much despite being unable to have a relationship with them at this stage of my life. Then I let it go. Whenever I feel any guilt or worry about them I try to do a forgiveness practice and metta practice.


          • #6
            I now live with my 88 y.o. dad and life has always been difficult. I try to give him the "very good" pat answer that Ajahn Brahm uses. I also TRY to remember that people who are angry were probably hit on the head that day (A. Brahm). The best thing for me is to not argue, never start conversations, and let him be. As far as driving, if he needs to go somewhere a bit far, I drive and ignore his complaints. On a couple of long distance drives, I put on classical music. Perhaps, next time, I'll pop in a dharma talk. Hopefully, that won't wig him out! Remember what Ajahn Chah taught, "don't disturb the noise" or in other words - ignore, ignore, ignore!


            • #7
              I can certainly relate. My family members have the fault finding mind welded into their brains! HA!


              • #8
                I always was at odds with my family and am still considered an outsider. As a child, and even until recently, I hoped that 'they' would change into more caring and gentle people. The same for people outside of my family too. Well, since becoming brainwashed by Ajahn Brahm, I stopped that destructive behavior, i.e. destructive to my own self preservation. Now, I really have no friends. The only people that I speak to are strangers - usually the elderly when I perceive that they need some sort of assistance or even a "hello." When I walk, I meet other loners - usually again the elderly, and I exchange a few kind words and then leave it at that. I have to deal with enough of my own unruly inner conversations, so basically I avoid any meaningful conversation with others. However, wherever I go, I always keep a smile on my face, and offer a quip or two to lighten my own and some other person's day. I hope some of that made some sense


                • #9
                  I suppose I don't feel anxiety around my family, as much as we don't see eye to eye. I'm a Buddhist, and my family is Mormon.. I try to find the common ground when they get into talking their religion up or on a more normal basis I tend to chat about plans or ideas I have, I usually like to get opinions of 'fresh eyes' as it's sometimes called.

                  However.. when around my partners family... the most polite and most Buddhist thing I can think of saying about them is "they are those with much sand in their eyes".. simply explaining what a meditation retreat is an ordeal or why I chose not to eat meat or why I don't drink alcohol. I suppose when I first met them I tried to find common ground and it was tense because I didn't know how they'd react or if they would start to label me based on my beliefs. At this stage I don't feel this way, their opinion of me has no bearing on my life or choices. I avoid contact until there is an occasion or need to contact them about anything in particular or if they ask directly.
                  Sometimes there is no good solution or any solution at all. Just don't let that weigh on your happiness or choices.


                  • #10
                    It's easy to be caught up when communicating. My dad is like that as well.

                    What I do is that I bypass all the content that he says, and see directly into his heart.

                    He feels frustration by waiting in traffic... Why? In fact, if you look at everyone around you, there is literally no one who can just sit there and do nothing. They start to become bored. They're caught in adrenaline-addiction. They want to move, to do, to pin something down from this strange irritation/agitation that they have inside. This massive cloud of invisible frustration is why "life is suffering", and what fuels our compulsion/addiction to suffering. They just want to pin a reason down, so they choose the weather, the government, the slow traffic as targets of their unseen frustrations.

                    If you look at it that way, then it becomes much easier to see it as a dharma practice.

                    The Buddha said Right speech is:

                    - Truthful

                    - Agreeable to who you're speaking to

                    - Endearing/Kind

                    - Beneficial

                    - Said at the right timing

                    Lastly, he said the reason why the Tathagata did it is because of "Sympathy". This is a very important keyword that I feel many people omit out. The reason is sympathy, and not because you should do it as a rule.

                    When my dad becomes like that, I don't fan the flames. I try to make him feel better.

                    Talk to his body's physiology and calm it down. Give him a massage. Make him smile. Sometimes, if you say the right things, it can help him calm down. I think this is something that we need to hone as a skill. I'm also lacking in wisdom in giving the right words.

                    As Jerrod said too, we associate with good friends. However!!! We should not cast away our parents. Instead of thinking of the precepts and following what the Buddha tells you blindly, think about the practice from your own experience and figure out whether it is the right thing to do. Hope this wasnt too late a reply haha

                    I introduced meditation to my parents for "stress release" and they've become happier too.



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