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Walking the Walk: Navigating Family Dynamics

Charisse Glenn July 2020

The Let Go – Personal Musings: Charisse Glenn

The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.


If you want to see how evolved you are, go to a family gathering.”

If you want to see how evolved you are, go to a family gathering. Our families, whether extended or blood, have an uncanny way of pushing our buttons. Often it is a knee jerk reaction, and before we know it, old wounds or those festering, open up, resulting in anger, resentment, or hurt feelings.

Family and social gatherings are an opportunity to connect, to make new memories, and share in old ones. They can also be a barometer of our spiritual growth. For those on a  journey of self-awareness, there is no better place to test if we can really walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

My Childhood

My childhood was fraught with stress, heightened by the drama of the adults during our family gatherings. The paternal side of my family was wrought with tension. Any two adults in a room would result in raised voices and heated exchanges. If there were more than two in the mix, then best to duck and cover.

we called it breaking the Glenn curse”

Because of those experiences, my brother, cousins, and I, as tweens, made a pack, we called it breaking the Glenn curse. To ensure the strength of our conviction, we made a blood promise, pricking our fingers with a pin and mixing our blood. We vowed we would not carry on our families’ dysfunctional ways of communication.

Our commitment to each other was, we would not allow the past to control our present. Of course, nothing is perfect, and we certainly have had our disagreements, but we have used the power of communication not to allow those differences to disrupt our family gatherings.

We cannot control the actions or words of others. However, we can control our reactions to them. When we have sensitive points, this can be challenging.

Communication is about being heard, the transfer of information from one to another. When the conversation gets adversarial, each party ceases to hear. Wanting only to convince the other, that their point of view is correct, resulting in a stalemate. We must find ways in which the person(s) we are speaking to understands, or it is just verbal vomit.

To navigate those vulnerable areas, we can implement self-awareness in our interactions by making a conscious and mindful decision not to overreact.

Tips on How to Walk the Walk

Don’t take the bait. Baiting usually happens when someone is trying to engage you in an argument. Once joined, the table can then be turned on you. Don’t react. By not responding, the conversation can move on. And certainly don’t argue or attempt to appeal to reason.

Let go of your need to justify. Past or Present. Justifications can come because we have guilt over an action, we are insecure over a decision made, we want to clarify a situation, or we are looking for validation or approval. What has been: is over. Move forward. Start fresh today.

Slow down. Before you open your mouth, take a deep breath. To speak without carefully choosing our words can often be what stokes the fire leading to disagreements. Listen, then pause before you respond. How we react is within our power.

There is no Win in being right. Remember, a person cannot be wrong about their own beliefs or feelings. The need to be right is a moot point. It will only serve to alienate the other.

Let go of your expectations. Having expectations of what you want, usually through rose-colored glasses, will always bring disappointment. When what we envisioned is shattered, heartache, frustration, or defeat may ensue.

When confronted with an adversarial tone, politely walk away. Step outside, get some fresh air, look at the stars, and count to 10. Returning with a new perspective will allow us to redirect the conversation.

Don’t fall prey to a conditioned response. No one makes us feel anything. Only we have control over that. We react because we believe someone else’s truth about us is more valid than our own. To know ones’ self is enough.

Most importantly, don’t engage in caustic behavior. There is no better time than now to accept your family and friends with all of their idiosyncrasies.

Above all, Be Kind.

If we want to effect any change in our family gatherings, we must first step within ourselves. It starts with deactivating the buttons and letting go of the triggers. By changing how we react or, better yet, how we don’t react, we alter how others act towards us.

One reaction will affect the whole, a phenomenon of the chain effect. It is a quiet transition, almost imperceivable, but the results can transform your family dynamics. Are you willing to start walking the walk?

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About the Author:

Charisse Glenn, Casting Director, Equestrian, and Creator of The Let Go. She is 62, gray, aging gracefully and has lots to say. Charrise is half Japanese and has the wisdom of that culture she was born into. She has been a casting director for commercials in Los Angeles for 35 years and is an equestrian having competed in 100-mile horse races around the world.

The initiative she writes, called The Let Go serves as a reminder to let go of all that no longer works in our lives, opening a pathway to happiness, love, and balance. Proudly she embraces the freedoms age provides serving as a role model to both men and women. She is a badass with a beautiful soft touch. You can find her on either her website , or follow her on The Let Go in Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Walking the Walk: Navigating Family Dynamics

  1. Charisse glenn says:

    Barbara, Thank you for your well-expressed comments. They say we teach what we need to learn, and navigating communication in a dysfunctional family certainly placed me on the path of self-discovery as well. I am so honored to be a part of your own discovery and journey. You may enjoy my weekly blog where I tackle a plethora of subjects. http://www.theletgo.com Love and Light to you. Warmly, Cg

  2. Barbara DuDeck says:

    Charisse, I want to thank you for the articles you brought to us today. They particularly hit home and I am able to see that I am capable of caring out some of the pointers you give us. However, reading your spot on definitions and explanations put me on the path I am continually trying to follow with all the chaos today in the world and within my own family.

    I am eternally grateful for your mind and spirit and desire to share to make this a better world externally and internally. My arms are wrapped around your heart and my prayers are with you and the world for change and love.

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