Yesterday we looked at simplifying our lives by choosing our friends carefully. Family is a bit different matter and much more emotional. However, many of us choose family over our true happiness. Today we will look at some ideas to help us understand this choice.
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The nonfunctional family
To start our understanding of why false self is so attached to its family we must first look at the structure of the family. When we look at most families we do not find a strong influence of true self. There are many signs of this. We see issues like a controlling and authoritative parent, a required strong commitment to a religious or political ideology, physical or psychological abuse, and substance abuse.
All of these behaviors come from false self. This is by no means a definitive list, but it covers the most common issues that face families.
The way the family adjusts to these issues determines whether not it is a functional family. In a nonfunctional family it is usually only a few members who have any one of the behaviors listed above. The others learn to cope with the extreme false self behavior. Rather than bring it to the attention of the one exhibiting the behavior they keep quiet and try to get along.
Let’s take the case of a domineering, controlling, and authoritative parent. In this example only one of the parents exhibits this behavior. The spouse most likely began to cope with this type of behavior before there were any children in the family. The children learned to cope with the behavior as they grew up.
Is everybody happy?
Is anyone in this family really happy? I would suggest that they are not. The authoritative parent is not. They are clearly coming from false self and as we have repeated, that is never a happy place. The spouse and the children are not happy because they must repress their true self so that they do not anger the controlling parent. Every time they strongly express any true self behavior the false self of the controlling parent views this as a threat and punishes the behavior. Eventually everyone learns to live in fear of the controlling parent.
The final test of a nonfunctional family is what happens when someone needs to leave the family. Over time the spouse and children of the nonfunctional family have learned to balance each other to keep a sense of stability in the family. This is not true stability because it is coming from the balancing of their false self behaviors against the false self behavior of the controlling parent.
This apparent stability is more like a house of cards that is in a delicate stasis. Because all the false self behaviors are linked to each other, if one person decides they need to get away from the situation to understand themselves – the whole house of cards comes down. As it comes down everyone in the family blames the one who chose for their true self as the cause of all the pain.
This is not a pretty picture, but how many of us encountered a similar situation as we chose to pursue our spiritual path? That is why I have felt the need to write about this. Choosing for the false self based family is one of the most common reasons people never choose to listen to their true self. At least it is that way in my experience.
The functional family
The functional family may not recognize that they are making choices for their true self. They probably don’t see this. What they understand is that they are truly happy.
Here are some of their behaviors that are different from the nonfunctional family. They encourage each person in the family to learn what is important to them. They actively support what each person wants to do as much as is possible. The functional family wants each person to travel their own path of discovery. In a functional family you hear “I don’t understand why you want to do that, but I will help you in whatever way I can.” This is said with utter sincerity.
In a functional family the children are not told to be doctors, lawyers, or whatever the parents think they should be. Children are not forced to participate in sports in which they have no interest. No one cares. As long as the child is happy, not destructive of themselves or others, and is passionate about learning – nothing else is really important.
A functional family does not force any religious or political ideologies on its members. The family is strong enough to have any and all beliefs questioned. The family understands that all ideas need to be examined on a regular basis. If our understanding evolves, then our ideas should evolve. A lively discussion of opposing ideas without personal rancor is a sure sign of an open minded family.
Finally, the functional family only wants happiness for each of the members. The functional family does not push its members into unwanted personal relationships. It does not determine the race, social stature, financial stature, or sexual orientation of its member’s personal relationships. They know that happiness is more important than any of these. If the person is not happy in the relationship then we help them understand their choice and help them back towards their true happiness. We do not condemn them for choosing the wrong relationship with the wrong person.
Breaking up a functional family
Unlike the nonfunctional family that breaks up with much pain, the functional family breaks up and reassembles itself very easily. A functional family is less likely to have interlocking false self dependencies. The members of a functional family are much more likely to be acting from true self. Remember, true self knows that it is complete in itself and does not need anyone else. What do we care if a family member chooses to leave to pursue their goals? All we want is for them to be happy in that pursuit.
How many families are fully functional? Not many. How many families are totally nonfunctional? Not many but more than those that are fully functional. It is more like a continuum where most families exhibit some characteristics of a functional family as well as some from the nonfunctional family.
It all depends on which characteristics come into play for us as we relate to our family. Other family members will have different experiences than ours. Each family member experiences a different family. We need to learn about how the family that we experience is affecting our choice for true self. Not our sister’s choice, not our mother’s choice – our choice.
More on Monday
Today we have written the background for Monday’s post. On Monday we will look at how to use these concepts of functional and nonfunctional families to simplify our relationships with our families. Have a great weekend!
Until Monday –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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