Hello POP Community!
WOW! When we sent an email out last month to ask what you would like to explore in this month’s letter we had a whole range of responses as to what’s been going on in your lives! The question I’d like to respond to this month is:
In the midst of issues that are happening in my family, how can I be honest with my loved ones without hurting them or damaging those close relationships? – Marie (NY, NY)
Thank you for writing, Marie. I understand that no matter where or what your spiritual practice may be, it can always be harder once you’re around your closest family members. These are the people, after all, that were the first to co-create what you believe to be “normal”, as far as interactions are concerned. I believe September is a great month for a question like this. It’s a month that summons the need for internal reflection out of many people, in the United States especially.
I’ll start with good old Albert Einstein. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Sometimes we find ourselves being reactive to our father or sister.
Sometimes it’s our mother or our brother.
Every time it’s a reflection.
What I mean by that is – you have a choice. When you become upset by someone in your family, you have a choice to 1) Learn or 2) Think You Know.
If you believe yourself to think you know, there is no growth.
“That’s just how my sister is.”
“Dad always gets mean when he drinks.”
“My cousin doesn’t like me.”
“My brother shows no sadness about Mom’s health.”
“My brother- in -law doesn’t want to come to our house for the holidays.”
When you already think you know the way something is, there is no new understanding entering the equation for you. It’s a pity. It’s a pity because you already think you know how it goes and that knowing comes from the limiting amount of years you’ve been on earth. I’m 35 years old. My history is made up of a very specific set of circumstances that make up my 35 years of being here. Yes, certain things broaden my perception, but it still belongs to only one person, ME. If we are the product of an environment that believes a certain form of repeated interaction is “normal”, then we are also capable of shifting what “normal” is in that environment. My family’s “normal” is very different from your family’s “normal”, which is very different from your best friend’s family’s “normal”.
This requires work.
This requires YOU to do work. Not them.
If you blame them, it will never happen.
If you are proactive, you have a chance for growth.
If you believe yourself to be learning, then anything is possible. You automatically put yourself in a broader position for receiving information. This means that the person in front of you becomes someone to learn from… and I don’t mean to learn from them in order to get them to like you, or to get them to see that you’re right, or get them to do it right, or get them to stop. This means that you actually watch and listen to them, so that you can see where you see yourself in them.
This can feel very counter-intuitive to the way society works today. We love to blame as a society. We love to see all the ways people are not us, are doing things to us, are keeping us down, etc. It takes a lot to practice to see others as being similar or like us, takes a lot of practice, especially when we are absolutely certain they are not.
Don’t do it for them. Do it for you.
You have an opportunity to see their battle with alcohol in a similar light as to your battle with shopping, or sex, or eating.
You have an opportunity to see their anger about a family member not taking responsibility for their actions or “showing up” for everyone in a similar light as your numbness or co-dependence to it.
You have an opportunity to see their perceived bad attitude in a similar light to your opinionated reaction to it.
If you are in an argument, you are one side of something. If you are on one side of something that infers another side exists. If you are learning, you have the ability to bridge the gap. You have the ability to learn how to know from the depth of your heart instead of from the limited thinking in your head. Then you aren’t on one side or the other. You can actually be the same thing and speak to the person you care about from “same”.
After all, things always look different from the inside out.
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.”
– Mahatma Gandhi