This is a really heart-wrenching and tough question as it deals with our identity, that is who we think we are, and who we are to become. Our families represent the deepest parts of ourselves. Our biological family holds the energy we were physically created from, and if our biological parents raised us, they also represent the spiritual, emotional, and mental forge we were fired in until adulthood. But let’s be honest here— the real reason why we feel such an aversion to our family is because there is part of us that fears that we are like them. We fear that lurking somewhere under our skin is the exact pattern that we despise: the mental illness, the temper, the manipulative conduct, the abusiveness, whatever it is, we are terrified that we have it too. We fear that it will grow quietly, like a cancer, and one day we will wake up and see that despite our best efforts, it has gotten the better of us. We have become the exact thing that hurt us in our past. We cannot handle the idea that we could somehow slip into the exact behaviour we are repelled by, or that we could perpetuate the same scars that we ourselves bare.
The balancing point to this is to stop repeating the pattern and to maintain a certain degree of conscious awareness that brings light to the internal shadows that this kind of tumor grows in. Balance begins with bringing awareness into the corners of our being that we are afraid to look at. When we bravely own all parts of ourselves, it is impossible to confuse them with somebody else. This means that when we have a dedicated focus based on regularly challenging our fears and celebrating our beauty, we create a personal depth so vast and brilliant that it is impossible to lose ourselves.
You are not your family.
Another truth to grasp is that you are not your family. Your family is a tool for your soul’s development. You have incarnated through them, but you are not destined to share their life path. The reason why you chose to come through such an intensely different or troubled family was because you wanted to feel who you truly are, to the exact depth that you feel you are not them. You wanted to experience who you are not so you can deepen and understand who you are. For many, this is quite a profound and individual form of understanding to achieve in this life. It can help to know that your family was a filter for your soul to pass through in order to be charged in specific ways to carry our your personal karma. You chose them. You wanted the magnetic charge of anger, frustration, shame, and conflict to attract and repel experiences, new ways of thinking, relationships, and creativity that would push you deeply into yourself. You chose a filter that would force you to ask questions like: “How am I different?” “How can I improve and not be like that?” or, “How did it make me feel when ____ happened?” Your soul loves these questions and is growing every time you ask them.
We get the same results from the opposite end of the spectrum.
Sometimes we choose smooth family relationships that serve as buffers or supports. In this way our family is still helping us to expand and grow into ourselves, but without the direct personal challenge. These family situations emphasize self-discovery through love, softness, and acceptance. Both situations are valuable and actually serve the same purpose: to get you to truly feel, love, and express yourself fully in this life.
Your soul is your defining energy, not your family.
So now that we understand that family is simply a tool, which our soul is magnetized and shaped through, we can begin to feel more at ease by not over-identifying with them. This is an important identification because the greatest influence and impact you have in this world is from a soul level, not a physical level. It is your relationship with your soul that attracts things to you, that inspires you. It is your relationship with your soul that people feel, respond to, and remember long after you are gone. Your relationships with others are opportunities for you to improve your relationship with yourself; they do not define you or follow you unless you let them. So remember that, and let that be your point of reference. Let that shift take place. Your soul is the reference point for everything you are to become in this life.
Limit your time with people who you do not respect.
In a more practical sense, consider that you don’t owe anyone time and attention. To maintain balance in your life, your primary focus needs to be on ensuring that you are around people, places, and things that support you. It is not caring or loving to saturate yourself in environments that are toxic on any level. You need all of your energy for your personal life expression and once you are there, any surplus should be re-invested in relationships that magnify love and do not drain it. This re-investment in genuinely loving relationships creates synergy and forward momentum in your life.
Investing in relationships that are imbalanced, especially if you have given them chance after chance to wake up, only enables others to continue in patterns that ultimately hurt them and blind them from who they truly are. Having these standards is not “selfish,” “arrogant,” or “disloyal” as they are acts of self-love and self-respect that other people can gain inspiration from. Many people that inflict pain and stress on others do so because they do not believe they can be who they are, or nurture themselves. When we raise our standards we give other people the permission to do so as well.
When we respect and love ourselves we do not hurt others.
Hurting other people happens when we hurt ourselves due to being disconnected from our higher selves and heart centre. Many times it takes feeling challenged, abandoned, and betrayed by people around us to go inward and re-evaluate how we are living our lives and treating others. We can bring love and compassion to this process by listening and considering any authentic apologies or explanations that come our way. Creating boundaries is not about punishment, revenge, or blindly pushing others out of your life to never speak again, but rather it is a mark of emotional maturity. True boundaries are about holding space for yourself and others to rise into higher versions of ourselves/themselves. Boundaries indicate that you understand and honour your current limits, and that you know what you can handle emotionally in order to stay balanced and productive. You also preserve relationships by dis-engaging before they spiral out of control to the point where the damage and resentment make it irreparable.
At the end of the day we are not our families. These close relationships are there to help us become who we are truly meant to be on this planet, and we chose them to be a catalyst for this process. How we handle these relationships can determine how deeply we come know ourselves in this life. What we put up with from them determines our level of self-worth. The best way to walk away from everything discussed here is to look at these tough relationships from a higher perspective. Know that you deserve to be supported and genuinely loved by the people in your life and by yourself. If you can hold that standard everything will begin to fall into place.