Who Is Our Family?

January 7, 2009

Today’s post was inspired by the book Illusions by Richard Bach.  There is a series of sayings in the book that come from “The Messiah’s Handbook.”  Today we will look at the saying “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

 

We think we are alone

In a series of earlier posts we looked at a number of ideas concerning dealing with our families.  One of the ideas we looked at was that many of us have so many conflicts with our family that we have to leave them.  We are compelled to follow our own path but we cannot sort out the issues with our family that are holding us back.  So we leave.

 

At first we feel very alone.  We may continue physical contact with our family, but we know that there is no longer any meaningful communication with them.  We think that we are all alone on our path.  After all, we ask ourselves, how could anyone else experience the things that I have gone through?

 

We find our family

As we travel our path we eventually become more comfortable with our choice.  We slowly understand that we made the only choice we could.  We also begin to see the wisdom of our choice.  We are beginning to be in the moment and act from our true self more frequently.  We are also becoming much happier.

 

All of a sudden a strange thing starts to happen.  Where we once thought that we would never find anyone who understood us or who had been through experiences similar to ours – we begin to find them everywhere.

 

We start to talk to these people and we find out that we have many common experiences.  The most important point of attraction is that we are all committed to traveling our own path.  We also are committed to helping those traveling their path.

 

Without ever making a conscious decision, we begin to replace the people who were in our life with those we have met on our path.  Ever so slowly we cease attempting to be close with those who have not made the commitment to themselves.  We cannot help it.  We no longer have the time or energy to spare attempting a close relationship or friendship with people who have not understood the importance of being their true self.

 

Then one day we wake up and realize that we have created a new family.  This family consists of those we have met on our path.  We have created a group of people who are helping each other to be their true selves – not some false self idea of who they should be.

 

Then the light comes on.  We realize that we have created a brand new family and it has nothing to do with the people we grew up with.  We realize that family is not our blood relations.  It is the group of people that we can work together and communicate with the most effectively.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

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Simplify Our Life – Family Review

September 26, 2008

This series of posts has turned out to be an eye opener.  Today we will review the last week of posts about choosing our family.  As I have said – I originally thought this would be one post.  Then I realized all the background that would be necessary.  Today will be more or less the original post that I had planned last week.  But first…

 

Thankful Friday

This week I am thanking all the readers who are sharing this blog with their friends.  I can tell from the statistics that this site is benefitting from our readers referring their friends to it.  Now if we could only get a few people to comment we could start a discussion thread.

 

As always we thank WordPress for providing the free web site.  We also thank FeedBurner for their efforts to distribute the daily updates by email and RSS feeds.  Thanks!

 

Review

We started this series of posts over a week ago when we started to look at the idea of simplifying our life by choosing the people we want in our life.  This idea quickly became a week long series in which we heard about functional and nonfunctional families, how to examine our family, strategies for dealing with non-supportive members of our blood family, and finally why it is important to choose our family.

 

Today we will step through those ideas in one continuous flow.

 

The steps – Functional families

Our first step in simplifying our lives through our family is to understand functional and nonfunctional families.  We recognize a functional family because the members are mutually supportive.  They are truly interested in the learning and growth of each member.

 

Although there is a leader in the functional family, that leader is supportive rather than authoritative.  The hallmark of a functional family is that it breaks up and reassembles easily when one member decides to leave.  The functional family knows that each individual must pursue their own path of learning and growth.  Any member returning to the family is welcomed with open arms and with no strings attached.

 

The nonfunctional family usually has one or two authoritative members that dominate the family.  The other members adjust their behaviors to compensate for the authoritative individuals.  These interlocking false self behaviors allow the family to achieve a delicate stasis that falls apart when one member leaves the family.  The house of cards that is the interlocking behaviors falls apart and the members of the family blame the one who has chosen to leave for causing all the pain.  The members of the family frequently do not allow this individual to return to the family without a lot of blame and/or many strings attached.

 

Examine your family

The next step is to examine your family.  Most families are not totally functional.  Nor are there that many families that are completely dysfunctional.  Most families have characteristics of each.

 

Examine your family and attempt to understand where it is functional and where it is nonfunctional.  This will help you in understanding how to choose which members of the family, if any, from whom you need to separate.

 

Deal with the non-supportive members

After you have examined your family you will most likely have found a few members with whom you have a very painful relationship.  These relationships are painful because you cannot find a way to be mutually supportive of each other.  Many times this is because the other family member will not accept you for who and what you are.

 

When the pain becomes too great we realize we must separate from the relationship.  Remember that they will most likely blame you for hurting them when you make the separation.  You must remember that you cannot hurt their true self.  Only their false self can be hurt.  When they blame you for the hurt it is their false self placing the blame.  You are only separating from their false self.  You can never separate from their true self.

 

Accept the pain in the other relationships

There will be other relationships with members of our family that we want to maintain.  However, these relationships will also have pain in them.  In these relationships we are choosing the pain because the relationship is valuable enough to us that we can accept the pain.

 

The important point here is to understand our reason(s) for maintaining the relationship.  Eventually the pain of the relationship will become so great that we will ask ourself “Why am I doing this?”  Your answer must be immediate.  You must know why you are choosing the pain.  Otherwise, you will begin a downward spiral of blaming the family member for your pain.  That will not be good for you or the relationship.

 

Choose your real family

Since we are making the choice about which of our blood family members we want in our life, why don’t we just create a new family?  Once we have learned some of the techniques to deal with our blood family relationships we can apply them to a new family.

 

By choosing who we want in our new “chosen” family we are simplifying our life.  We no longer have to deal with people that are not supportive of us.  We choose to cultivate only those close relationships that are mutually beneficial.   We create a small circle of people with whom we can relax, relate, and truly enjoy. 

 

We choose for our true happiness when we choose only those relationships that help us learn and grow.  These are two way relationships and those in our new “chosen” family are learning and growing because we are helping them on their paths.

 

You may say that I am a dreamer but I know I am not the only one.  I hope some day you will join us and the world will be as one.

 

John Lennon

 

That’s all for this week.  We are expecting a wet, windy, and cold coastal storm in the northeast US this weekend.  It looks to be a weekend of watching movies and maybe some cooking projects.  Have a great weekend!

 

Until Monday –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

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Simplify Our Life – Choose Your Family

September 25, 2008

We are finally getting to the message that I wanted to express when I started this series of posts.  We can choose our family.  We frequently find our chosen family more supportive than our blood family.

 

Housekeeping

It looks like yesterday’s email update did not go out once again.  As always we thank our email subscribers for accepting the occasionally spotty service from FeedBurner.  It is a free service and we are reliant on their best efforts to provide the daily email update.  Here is the link to yesterday’s post.  Please read it before you read today’s post.

 

We choose our blood family anyway

Today we will be talking about our chosen family.  Let’s take a quick look at our blood family.  When we read between the lines of our last two posts we discover that we wind up choosing them anyway.

 

On Tuesday we looked at a strategy to separate ourself from a painful relationship with a non-supportive blood family member.  Is that not a choice?  Are we not choosing to go forward with our lives and leave the pain behind?

 

Yesterday we heard about a strategy that can be used when we choose to maintain a painful relationship.  Once again, this is a choice.

 

The point here is we choose our relationships with our blood family members.  Many times we do not realize we are making these choices, but we do.  Why not exercise that choice more consciously to choose a new family – the chosen family?

 

An old saying

Many years ago I heard someone say that our family is not who we were born to but those whom we find as we live our lives.  I am sorry that I cannot remember the source of this quote.  However, it was my first exposure to the idea of choosing my family.

 

As I have travelled my path I have chosen many different people to be in my family.  Some have stayed for a long period of time.  Some have stayed for shorter periods of time.  Others have chosen me to be a member of their family.

 

As I watched these relationships begin and end I frequently remembered the previous quote.  I realized that I was finding my chosen family.  I watched as I chose people to be in my family and then either I moved on or they moved on.  Either way we determined that the relationship was not mutually beneficial.

Learning to choose the new family

As I watched these relationships form and dissolve I learned more about the process of choosing your family.  At first I wanted to share what I had with everyone.  At first I was not very aware of what the other person wanted.  I figured that we could start the relationship (either a friendship or an intimate one) and eventually they would want what I had to share.

 

Guess what?  It didn’t work.  Eventually I learned that I had to be completely accepting of the other person before I chose them for the family.  That idea also needed a bit of fine tuning.  I realized that they had to be completely accepting of me or the relationship would not work.

 

Do you remember the story of Diogenes?  He was said to have walked the streets of Athens carrying a lantern during the daytime looking for an honest man.  Of course he did not find one.

 

I have frequently thought that story describes the process of finding someone who is totally accepting of us while at the same time we are totally accepting of them.  However, as opposed to Diogenes, we can find this type of relationship.  It is rare, but it does happen.  We just have to persevere and not settle for less.

 

Choosing your family is choosing your happiness

I have had people call this process of choosing your family cold and calculating.  Some have said that it is insensitive and exclusive.  I look at it as choosing the people with whom I want to share my emotions.

 

When we are emotionally healthy, or at least working towards that health, we need for those who are closest to us to be the same.  Choosing your family means choosing those who will support you as you work through your emotional issues.  You will do the same for them.

 

Not everyone is able to help everyone else.  Why should we choose to share our emotions with someone who is unable to reciprocate?  Eventually this becomes a one way giving of emotions and the relationship becomes unhappy.  I prefer to take my time and carefully choose those with whom I will share my deep emotions.

 

When we carefully choose our new family we gradually create a small happy family where everyone accepts and supports each other.  Does this mean that we do not care or share with anyone else?  No – we still care about and share with many other people.  It is just that we do not do it at as deep of a level as we do in our chosen family.

 

The chosen family becomes our source of strength

As we create our chosen family we create a source of renewal and replenishment.  Our chosen family accepts us for who we are.  When we are with them we can relax and be ourselves.  They do not want us to be anyone other than who we are.  This allows us to replenish ourselves.

 

Our other relationships have many expectations placed on us to be what we are not.  When we are with our chosen family we do not have to deal with those expectations.  That is like lifting a huge weight from our shoulders.  We can breathe easily and relate in a natural manner.  The chosen family becomes like a magnet that draws us in and replenishes us.

 

We wonder why it is so hard for other people to understand this concept.  We are baffled that people choose to spend so much time around others who want them to fit into their expectations.  We wish we could just reach out and wave a magic wand so that people could see how unhappy they are choosing to be.

 

Instead we spend our quality time with our chosen family.  We go out into the world and do what we do.  When we are done we return to our chosen family.  All they want to know is how we are and what did we learn while we were out in the world.  Personally, I think that is the way a family is supposed to relate.  How could life be more simple than that?

 

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow we will summarize this last week of posts into a review of exactly how to simplify our life by understanding our family.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

Discuss & Comment

We do not want this blog to be a fountain of words from one view point.  We welcome comments and questions.  Please feel free to ask a question or make a comment when the mood strikes you.

 

WordPress forces all comments to be moderated.  We usually check for comments at least twice a day.  So do not be surprised if it takes a few hours for you to see your comment.

 

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The content of this blog is copyrighted by KanDu Associates.  All rights are reserved by the owner.  For reprint information please email:

 

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Simplify Our Life – Non-Supportive Family

September 23, 2008

I am sure some of you have been scratching your head and wondering what the last two posts have had to do with simplifying your life.  When I started writing about family I thought that I would be able to explain it in one or two posts.  Surprise!  It is going to take a total of five.

 

Simplify your blood family

In the last two posts we talked about our blood families.  We first talked about the idea of functional and nonfunctional families.  Then we learned about the need to examine our family.  If you have not read those posts please do so.  Reading them is pretty much a prerequisite for understanding this post.

 

Today we will look at a strategy for dealing with the results of our examination of our family.  This strategy is used when we need to get out of a non-supportive relationship.

 

We are accepted

As in all of our relationships we generally have different relationships with the different members of our blood family.  Some will totally accept us for who we are.  These are good relationships that we should attempt to maintain and nurture.  We need to accept these family members unconditionally in the same way they accept us.

 

When acceptance is conditional

Other family members will want to put conditions on their acceptance of us.  These relationships can be summarized with the phrase “if you were really my daughter and loved me you would call me more often.”   Substitute “daughter” for whatever relationship is appropriate for you.  Substitute “call me more often” for any behavior that fits the relationship.

 

These relationships based on conditional acceptance are always painful for us.  The base cause of the pain is that we are not being accepted for who we are.  We usually do not see that.  What we see is that someone is attempting to force us to do things that we do not want to do.

 

We don’t want to call our mother more often.  We don’t want to play baseball but we do so because it will make dad happy.  We don’t want to buy flowers for our sister’s birthday to prove to her that we love her.  We want to express our acceptance in our own way, but they force us to do it their way.  Then, if we do express our acceptance and caring in our own way, they conclude that we do not love them and blame us for hurting them.

 

You can see where this kind of relationship goes.  Over time we are more and more constricted in our behavior towards this relative.  We become more and more unhappy but do not want to hurt them.  This is how nonfunctional families perpetuate themselves.

 

The separation strategy

The first strategy that we will look at is the separation strategy.  This is the more drastic and more final solution.  The way this strategy works is that we commit to attempting to explain to the relative who is placing conditions on their acceptance of us that they are limiting us.

 

If at all possible we should avoid talking about how we are being hurt by them.  There are two reasons for this.  The first goes back to the idea that only the false self can be hurt.  When we talk about being hurt then we are exhibiting false self behavior.

 

The second reason that we do not talk about being hurt is that our relative will frequently respond by telling us how much we are hurting them.  “You think I hurt you? Let me tell you how much you hurt me!”  This conversation rarely is progressive or has a happy ending.

 

In the separation strategy we talk to our relative about how a relationship is limited when we accept someone only if they pass certain conditions.  We talk about how when we are more open with our acceptance we can more truly understand and like each other.

 

We also make a long term commitment to taking whatever time is required to make sure we have tried every possible way to explain ourselves to this relative.  What we are really doing is telling them that we cannot continue our relationship with them if they continue to put conditions on their acceptance of us.  Usually we do not actually say this to our restricting relative.  This is viewed as an ultimatum and detracts from the discussion.

 

We know that the relationship is too painful for us to continue unchanged.  We take whatever time we can devote and have as many discussions as we can before we choose to separate ourselves from the overly restricting relative.

 

As we separate ourselves we acknowledge to ourselves that we have done everything we can to explain our desire to build a healthy relationship with our relative.  We accept that at this time this relative is more interested in their false self behavior than in building a healthy relationship with us.  We accept them for where they are right now and vow to revisit the relationship whenever we think there might be an opening for us to continue our discussions about acceptance.

 

This can be very devastating to us when we determine that we must go forward with our lives.  We have to recognize that we did everything that we could to help our non-supportive relative to understand why we had to break off the relationship.  We have to understand that if they were coming from their true self then they would have no problem with the break up.  The fact that we had to temporarily break the relationship means that we could no longer allow their false self behavior to control what our true self needs to do.

 

All this can be very difficult to sort through while we are in the middle of it.  These are very emotionally charged situations.  This is precisely why we need to be training false self to listen to true self.  True self understands the importance of each of our relationships and is always able to determine which we need to maintain and which we need to suspend.  By listening to true self we can simplify our family relationships.

 

How is this simplifying our life?

Think about how much time and emotional energy we expend on our blood family relationships.  How much of that is in the mutually accepting and supportive category?  How much is in the dealing with conditional acceptance category?

 

Most of us spend a lot of time and emotional energy dealing with the conditional acceptance placed on us by our blood family.  Should we not turn this around and be spending more time and energy on the mutually accepting and supportive relationships?

 

By recognizing the non-supportive relationships we are simplifying our lives.  True self is determining to relate more frequently with those in our family who support us.  These supportive relationships rejuvenate us.  The non-supportive relationships only drain us.

 

We simplify our lives by first understanding the nature of our blood family relationships.  Next we learn to choose for the supportive relationships because they are beneficial to us and help us to simplify our lives.  No unnecessary time or energy is wasted on them.

 

That is all for today.  Tomorrow we will look at another strategy.  That one is called the “accept but cauterize” strategy.

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

Discuss & Comment

We do not want this blog to be a fountain of words from one view point.  We welcome comments and questions.  Please feel free to ask a question or make a comment when the mood strikes you.

 

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Simplify Our Life – Examine Your Family

September 22, 2008

Today we will look at how we can simplify our lives by examining our family.  Many of us do not realize that we can choose who we want as our family.  Today we will start to learn how to do so.  But first…

 

Welcome back

I trust everyone had a great weekend.  Here in the northeastern US we had some great weather.  We also quietly celebrated the end of summer in the northern hemisphere.  Also, we are in the midst of a bountiful harvest season in this area.  I intend to enjoy it now – winter will be here soon enough.

 

Functional family recap

Today’s posting is a direct extension of Friday’s post about functional and nonfunctional families.  We will give a brief synopsis of that post, but you will understand this post much more clearly if you read that one first.

 

In brief, a nonfunctional family is usually dominated by one or two members who exhibit extreme false self behavior.  Frequently this behavior is controlling, aggressive, or related to substance abuse. This behavior causes the other members to develop interlocking false self behaviors that help the family cope with this behavior.

 

The nonfunctional family breaks up with great pain because when one person leaves the interlocking false self behaviors fall apart.  The one who leaves is invariably blamed for the pain caused by the false self behaviors falling apart and then being reassembled to continue the coping strategy.

 

In contrast, a functional family is very supportive of each individual.  Each individual attempts to be objective and supportive of the others.  The functional family is happy because all of the members are learning and growing and sharing that learning and growth.

 

The functional family breaks up very easily because the members have not needed to create interlocking false self behaviors.  When a member of a functional family needs to leave to pursue their learning and growth the other members are happy and supportive.

 

Finally, there are very few truly functional families on this planet.  Nor are there that many truly nonfunctional families.  Most families have characteristics of both functional and nonfunctional families.

 

Examine your family

Many of us do not realize that we can simplify our lives by choosing who we want to be in our family.  Most of us think that our family is our blood family – you know, the people we were born to or who were born to us.  That is only one family.

 

It is much more important that we recognize that this group of people that we call our family must be supportive of our learning and growth.  In the same manner we must be supportive of their learning and growth.

 

We have looked at the concepts of a functional family.  It can be quite difficult and very emotional to examine our blood family and assess the functionality of that group of people.  Objectivity during this examination can be quite difficult to achieve but we must strive for it.

 

This assessment of our family to determine its functionality is usually very painful.  It is a difficult task, and it frequently takes many years to accomplish.  However, we cannot improve our relationship with our blood family until we have begun to understand how it functions.  Otherwise all we are doing is strengthening the interlocking false self behaviors.

 

The reason why this task takes so long is these interlocking false self behaviors.  We have lived within them for so long that we hardly notice them.  Our behavior is so determined by them that we cannot imagine behaving in a different way. 

 

However, if we feel pain in our blood family relationships we need to look at those relationships for false self behaviors.  Pain always means there is an element of false self behavior.  For us to find our true happiness we must find our false self behaviors as they relate to our family.

 

What do I do now?

Isn’t that always the question?  Especially with family this can be a very difficult question to answer.  We each have to come to our own answers in our own way.

There is no “one size fits all” answer here.  We will look at a few options for possible strategies, but we each must find our own way through this portion of our path.  But we are not alone.  If we just look around there are many people who have traveled this part of the path and they want to help us.  Just allow it and the help will be there.

 

How functional are we?

The first question to ask is “how functional is my family?”  Can you separate yourself enough that you can find your own way?  Are you so smothered that the mere idea of your leaving causes tremendous reactions in other family members?  Can you pursue the things you want to do and at least be left alone?  Does everything you want to do need to be approved by the rest of the family?

The answers to those questions will get you started on your examination of your family.  I have seen people react in a full spectrum of responses once they start to truly examine their family.

 

Some have found it either too painful or too threatening to continue the examination.  They stop traveling their path “for the sake of the family”.  They choose for a familiar but unhappy life.

 

I have seen others who have recognized that they would never be able to pursue their path as long as they maintained contact with their family.  They heard a strong voice that told them that they needed to cut all contact with their family in order to find true happiness.  They knew that for them their happiness was more important than anything else – and that their family would never help them to find it because it was too threatening to them.

 

Most of us find ourselves somewhere in between these two extremes.  We can maintain some contact with our family but we have developed a means to pursue our happiness.

 

In a way, most of us put our blood family behind a wall and deal with them there.  We then choose a new family that is mutually supportive of each other’s learning and growth.  Tomorrow we will look at how to choose that new family.

 

That’s all for today.

 

Until tomorrow –

 

Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.

 

 

Discuss & Comment

We do not want this blog to be a fountain of words from one view point.  We welcome comments and questions.  Please feel free to ask a question or make a comment when the mood strikes you.

 

WordPress forces all comments to be moderated.  We usually check for comments at least twice a day.  So do not be surprised if it takes a few hours for you to see your comment.

 

Talk to us!  Post a comment or a question!

 

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Email

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Copyright

© Copyright 2008 by KanDu Associates, LLC 

 

The content of this blog is copyrighted by KanDu Associates.  All rights are reserved by the owner.  For reprint information please email:

 

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