“In the blink of an eye, everything can change. So, forgive often and love with all your heart. You may never know when you may not have that chance again.” —Anonymous
Uttering the word “family” can instantly invoke a whole gamut of emotions. Some of them lovely. Some of them quite unpleasant.
We are conditioned to have expectations and beliefs of what family members should be like and how they ought to behave. The reality is family often doesn’t measure up to most of them.
The thing about family is it’s difficult to completely escape them. Even if you only see them around the major holidays, you still have to deal with them. How do you sit down to a family gathering and enjoy yourself while Uncle Ben rants about what’s wrong with the damn world? How do you handle a toxic, negativity-spewing mother who views everything from a glass-half-empty perspective? How the heck are you supposed to appreciate a sibling whose refusal to be responsible for your elder parents’ care has left you overburdened?
Believe it or not, family are your greatest blessings, especially the most difficult ones. To find appreciation for even the most dysfunctional family members, here’s insight that will bring you peace no matter who’s sitting at the table.
Family Are Here for Your Soul’s Growth and Evolution
Remember the bigger picture and what’s really going on. Each of us is a soul at different stages of development. Our soul’s passion is exploration and growth which is why we love coming to Earth. This free-will planet offers extreme contrasts of Dark and Light, a mix of young and old souls. Like a painting, these contrasts help us see things more clearly which provides greater clarity. That enables us to make leaps and bounds in our soul growth.
Each person is on a unique journey deliberately designed for what their soul wants them to explore and eventually master. As an example, your soul may choose to develop higher levels of acceptance. You will encounter all kinds of fantastic opportunities to help release your mind’s desire to judge and control, and shift into acceptance and compassion.
Since you can’t always get away from family, they are phenomenal at teaching you about acceptance: Maybe your spouse watches too much negative-based TV. Your adult daughter is emotionally distant from you. Your adult son uses alcohol and drugs to numb himself from his painful divorce.
It’s possible your soul signed up in this lifetime to get a “Ph.D.” in forgiveness. Everyone in your family agreed to play the different roles to help you master forgiveness (some really outstanding Oscar-worthy performances!) Because you need experience at forgiving, your family has agreed on a soul level to step in and provide you with an endless array of opportunities that require your forgiveness. Ah, bless them.
And here’s a popular Ph.D. evolved souls choose to master: Self-Love. Boy, does family come in handy for that one. Significant family members will withhold love and lead you to believe you aren’t lovable. They’ll condition you to buy into the lie that you aren’t good enough. You took on the self-love challenge because you’re evolved enough to find the love from within, not outside of you (don’t let your mind tell you otherwise.)
Earth is a School for Soul Growth
If you look at Earth as a perfect school for soul growth, that changes everything. A younger soul’s uniquely designed journey will be very different than an older soul’s path. The more evolved you are as a soul, the more challenging the circumstances. It’s not uncommon for an older soul to incarnate into a family of younger souls.
Each one of us is growing at the pace and in the way we’re capable of progressing. It’s easier to have compassion when you realize everyone is doing the best they can with where they are in their stage of development.
The Bigger the Challenge, the Bigger the Growth Potential
Everyone is deliberately on your path to help you evolve. Each family member is playing a different role as a catalyst for you. If you have fears about your adult children’s choices, “fearful-mind pop quizzes” will continue until you realize they are on their own unique path of exploration and growth. If you get angry at the choices your family members make, you’ll get triggering until you accept that their choices are part of their evolutionary journey.
It’s not about what they’re doing but what you’re doing. Everything is a great opportunity to choose whether to react from your judgmental mind or your compassionate heart.
When your mind resists something or someone that your soul has deliberately brought to you, that’s a clue as to what you have yet to master. What you resist will persist and grow until you’re no longer triggered into negativity or fear by it. What or who you see as a challenge is actually designed as a catalyst for growth. Once you use the uncomfortable experiences as an opportunity for soul growth, then they are no longer needed. Mission accomplished.
Everyone is at Different Stages of Soul Growth
Pay attention to what triggers you and why. Are you trying to stop loved ones from experiencing pain? Despite your mind’s burning desire to fix things and the need for them to change, it’s best to remind yourself you are souls who have deliberately chosen to be in the same family. Don’t do their homework. Pain is a powerful teacher and motivator. They may need to descend into even deeper depths of depression and despair before they’re ready to make needed changes. It may look like they aren’t “getting it” but they are on a subconscious level.
Can you accept and love them exactly the way they are in their earlier stages of soul growth? No one is broken and needs to be fixed. You agreed on a soul level to not judge them but to accept their choices and unconditionally love them. You are here to love them while they learn to love themselves. No easy feat but you’re up to the task.
No matter where anyone is on their evolutionary path (including yourself), it’s easier to find acceptance and compassion when you recognize we only know what we know. Each of us are growing in love but we haven’t mastered complete unconditional love yet. We’ve got mind stuff to release first. We’ll all get there eventually.
Set Up Healthy Boundaries
Respect the choices and lessons of others, rather than being dragged down into judgment and negativity. Again, what’s more important than their behavior is how you respond to their choices. You are at a different stage of soul evolution than they are. They are giving you opportunities to learn to respond from your heart with acceptance and compassion rather than your critical mind.
Your mind doesn’t have to like any of this but at least accept it. Aim for neutrality, not affected one way or another. Not pulled in emotionally.
If Uncle Ben goes off on a tirade about a hot-button topic which will trigger even the most passive in the group, sit back and observe, like an anthropologist or someone visiting from another planet. No emotional attachment or charge; simply observing. Keep your sense of humor.
That doesn’t mean you have to expose yourself to toxic situations. That’s a “lesson” right there about self-love. Protect yourself from toxicity by setting limits and healthy boundaries with them.
Your Greatest Challenges Are Tremendous Blessings
You’ll find inner peace when your mind stops resisting the family your soul has deliberately chosen for you. Don’t forget: You were involved in the selection process. Recognize the gift in the challenges your family present to you. How are they here to help you grow? What are they here to help you master? Who knows, this may be the lifetime they help you truly grasp what your soul intends. Thanks to certain family members, you may be able to finally check that off your soul’s To-Do List.