Sunday, December 26, 2010

Healing Family Issues and Karma

Family is the home of some of our greatest issues and greatest opportunities for freedom. And depending on your family, there can be some incredibly serious issues that have to be addressed. Truly, the topic of this spirituality blog post is a book in and of itself, but I'll offer a few insights to help you find some constructive ways of healing as you progress on your spiritual path.

It Ain't All Bad
Few family relationships are all bad. Outside of situations which are physically and seriously emotionally abusive, most families live in the spaces of verbal jabs, dirty looks, manipulation, guilt-tripping, and obligation. It's not fun. And the energy in and around most families is very rarely particularly clean. We also generally end up acting out our old roles once we get in the family circles. But for all the annoyances and long held grievances, there are good parts of family. And hopefully, one of those good points is love.

It Ain't the Cleanest Love, But It's Something
Since most families haven't been working out their karma or issues in a spiritual context, love from family can feel like this mixed drink with one part clear, crisp water and another part river bottom sediment. Because so many people have been drinking this mix for so long, it's deeply informed them of what love is. At it's purest, love is deep, expansive, and unconditional. Love never judges, but as you fall into it, you fall into a deep, deep place of integrity with yourself and with the world. I'm sure that's not what you grew up with. But as you spend time with your family, start to pay attention at where the love is the cleanest. When a family member is coming from that place, do your best to meet it and acknowledge it. So often we get caught up in pitched battles and arguments where we disagree, but when you stop and find where things are healthy, you can choose to nurture those places.

It Still May Be a Freaking Mess
Of course, if this is the first time you've changed your behaviors to nurture love in your family, it may be awhile before any of your family members can really reciprocate or adjust. I suppose in this way, family is a labor of love. And of course, there may be ways where you still need to stand up in your authentic power to be you. You can't shrink from conflict, although you don't need to seek it. If you've been involved in family conflicts all the time, your path is most likely leading towards letting go and no resistance. If you've always been avoiding family conflicts, then your path is most likely leading towards standing up for yourself. These are broad generalizations, and as always, I encourage you to develop your inner knowing and discernment around these situations. But I do encourage you to trust yourself and to not be afraid if things get messy. It's family; that's kinda the nature of the beast.

Severely Abusive Situations
As I mentioned before, this advice applies best to moderately healthy families. In situations where beatings or humiliations are common, the best action often is to leave the situation. Especially as you go down the spiritual path, you'll find that you absolutely have to have people who treat you with love and kindness. You can't learn what authentic love is when you're still feeling absolutely crushed and destroyed. That's not okay. So you have to find the courage to leave. You may not necessarily leave your family for ever, but a break from that energy field may be necessary for a long time until you're at a point of inner strength where you can face the situation safely.

Clearing Family Karma
The thing about family karma is that it's group work. There's only so much you can do. Yet, as you grow on the spiritual path, you'll find yourself more and more immersed in these issues because they are the basis for a lot of core and limiting beliefs. The spiritual awakening process takes us through EVERYTHING. To be a reborn person means that you have to re-create a new foundation. In many ways, a lot of issues that you found in your mind and heart will be rooted down in your family up-bringing. It really is a gut-check.

Thus, you may have thought that you weren't smart at all. Then you realized that part of that was that you didn't love yourself. Then you realized that you were giving up your intellectual power in many of your relationships, and now down at the base of your world, you remember a time when your father called you an idiot. And it stuck.

In truth, he was probably acting out something that happened to him with a teacher or another family member. So clearing this issue for yourself becomes a powerful alchemy. It breaks a cycle of self-harm in your family, and this does have an effect on the family energy field. You may also need to claim your intelligence with him in some way. It really depends on your individual situation. But I do know that as you clear these issues, you may also want to fill this space with affirmations and actions to reclaim this issue. Go slowly here. Take time to be in spaciousness. There's no need to create a new identity that claims to be smart. Trusting yourself and what feels true is the smartest thing you can ever do, and sometimes we learn how to be quiet and listen. Sometimes we speak up, which naturally shows our intelligence. There's no one in particular that you need to be, and that includes in your family.

But this will likely rock the familial boat.

Take It Slow: Your Family Might Not Know What Hit It
Family karma is so sticky that you might really upset some of your family members as you clear these issues. Or rather, the level of upset feelings in your family will be revealed as you let go of your role in maintaining the illusions that were in part hiding some of them. You will have to find patience so that they can catch up, and you will likely have to accept that many family members--much like other relationships--won't be joining you on this journey.

I know that this can be hard, but this is part of having courage on the spiritual path. You've let things go on long enough, and in your heart, you know that you haven't been happy with how things have gone. Take a step forward on your path and open your heart to clearing these issues. With a lot of love, you can let go of long held family grudges, old issues, and karma. In so doing, you may be amazed at the freedom and the love that now may flow into your life perhaps from your family, but very likely from others who will appear in your life. Because issues and karma block others out. When you remove the blocks, if your current family can't travel with you, your next spiritual family will appear to hold you and love you in a new and beautiful way.
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