This time of year, it can be easy to fall into feelings of self pity, “poor me,” gloom, doom and depression if your life becomes overloaded with drama from crazy relatives.
According to Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, you are not alone.
Five major studies have found that 10 percent of the U.S. population has a personality disorder, which may include antisocial personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, obsessive compulsive, paranoid, schizoid or schizotypal personality disorder.
That means that of every 10 of your family members, on average one person will be the lucky individual to drive the rest of the clan into long-term counseling.
If you look at it one way, that one out of 10 character will be the cause of a lot of personal growth should everybody else seize the opportunity to address the fallout.
Yes, there are theoretically entire countries where family members are statistically less likely to be crazy.
In Colombia, the statistical probability is only 6.2, while in Lebanon, only 6.1 percent of family members will drive everybody else into stress and in Mexico somehow the experts at the World Health Organization calculate only 2.7 percent of the family has a personality disorder.
Maybe it’s the guacamole, the weather, who knows, but you may want to ask your Mexican friends how much it easier it is for their family to get along.
But then again, it could be worse.
You could be from Norway, where 13.4 percent have a personality disorder, with avoidant personality disorder being most common, followed by paranoid personality disorder.
Relatives in Iceland are also slightly crazier than their American counterparts, at prevalence rates between 11 and 12 percent, with schizotypal personality being most common, followed by obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
And then again it could be YOU that has drawn the one out of 10 lucky card. YOU could be the cause of drama or personal growth, depending on how everybody else chooses to address or avoid the issues.
So what do you do if you recognize you have a crazy relative?
- For God’s sake, stop feeling sorry for yourself. This isn’t personal, it’s human. You have plenty of company – just ask anybody else what’s really going on in their family.
- Read Behaving As If the God in All Life Mattered by Machaelle Small Wright. This book will help you get over feeling sorry for yourself about whatever kind of childhood you endured. Personally, I have read the book twice. Machaelle grew up in a well-to-do family. When her parents got divorced, her father put her on a bus by herself to go live with her mother in a city far away. Within 24 hours of Machaelle arriving, her mother disappeared. Machaelle had to figure out not only how to survive as a 12-year-old girl on her own but how to raise herself for years with no parents.
- Rejoice that you have an individual in your family who gives everybody else the opportunity to reflect more deeply on what really matters in life. No, it’s not money or fame. Even if they are crazy, a Harvard study reports that the key to a happy life is the strength of your relationships with family, friends and spouses.
What is healing? Healing happens when you accept your family members as they are.
In fact, the degree to which you can accept the flaws in others often reveals the amount of inner peace you may personally allow yourself to experience.
The more you practice accepting everybody exactly as they are, including yourself, the more you get to practice unconditional love.