If you think you are enlightened go spend a week with your family
– Ram Dass-
As we approach the festive season you might be feeling a little trepidation as expectations run high and family dynamics inevitably come into play. It’s a time where also the shadows from the past can come to a head.
Expectation and reality
Especially for those on the path of self-development the quote from Ram Dass is so revealing because it is easy to fall into the trap of the spiritual ego that is telling you: “I’m done with that. I’ve got it now. I’ve learned my lesson. Everyone else in the family has just not got it yet.”
Relationship with parents is challenging because it inevitably defines all future relationships on a subliminal level. A strong emotional bond can swing on the pendulum from love and affection to anger, aggression, disappointment, and melancholy sadness.
The major disappointment stems from the societal indoctrination of the perfect Christmas show. The reality is that families go through break-ups, separation, loss, and all the dynamics that come with multiple patchwork constellations.
Avoiding the booby traps
Families are a reflection of society and we are seeing increasing divisiveness fanned by the information silos of social media. Children are severing all ties with parents and vice versa over even such issues as political and religious affiliation, vaccinations, or climate change. It is even more difficult to accept a differing opinion from somebody who is a cherished family member. Moreover, these topical issues are often a smokescreen of much deeper underlying conflicts, stemming from childhood hurts or trauma. It explains much of the heated exchanges and arguments over “an issue”.
It is in most cases wasted energy to engage in an argument with a family member, or anyone else for that matter if an opinion becomes a belief. This is sometimes the best approach: “I hear you. I see you. I love and respect you but I beg to differ on that matter and we should just leave it at that.”
The spiritual lesson
There is much to be said about the Buddhist teachings on the Karmic bonds between family members where we enter “into soul contractual” agreements prior to birth in order to elevate our spiritual consciousness.
Family constellation therapy can reveal those defining behavior patterns and traits that often go back many generations in the family lineage. How we relate to our parents, the primordial relationship pinpoints at the same time the greatest lessons we need to learn.
Family: The blessing and the curse
If you come from a family where traumatic emotional and physical abuse was the norm a strong separation boundary is often the only solution. Even, what we term as a “normal family” would in most cases realistically be defined as dysfunctional. Often what is seen as “harmonious” from the outside is a shrewd strategy to conform to societal expectations – a particularly common trait during the 1950s – and we all know how that turned out.
We, humans, are complex multi-faceted beings. Family is more often than not constant crisis-management in juggling different needs and expectations. It is the same challenge we face in all our relationships in communicating these different perspectives. We need more humble acceptance that we are incomplete beings.
The point of life is that it was never meant to be an easy ride in a comfort zone. Every crisis is merely putting the finger in the wound of where the seeds of opportunity lie waiting for further growth, change, and evolution of consciousness.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker