Dealing with family friction and finding the hidden lessons that lead to harmony

After writing the blog post on dealing with unpleasant ego driven people, it came to mind how much harder this is when the situation involves a loved one.  It’s easier to remove yourself (your subjective opinions and reactions) and take an objective look at the person you’re dealing with when the individual isn’t someone who’s a part of your day to day life and who you’re not really concerned with as to how their life is going.

It’s not that you don’t care about other people’s happiness or their lives, but when they are not someone you are in close contact with day in and day out, and don’t share your life with them on an ongoing basis, you’re less close to the person physically and spiritually.

It’s a lot more challenging to deal with a loved one who is ego driven, for example, and to deal with the dynamic of family discussions and differences in a way that involves absence of judgement and the pursuit of internal exploration for inner growth.  Everybody wants the best for the other, everybody shares their opinion in the hopes of guiding their loved ones on the “right” path, everybody wants some privacy, but everybody also wants support from each other.

Family dynamics (by family I mean friends that are family too and not that they have to be blood related) are complex because of the strong emotional component that family involves.  Although there are different levels of closeness and what can be considered invasiveness between family members depending on the culture that you grew up in, it’s safe to say that each family member (you included) wants the best for the other and wants to feel understood (not judged).  There’s also the component of expectations associated to family and roles or wanting to meet expectations (make happy) our loved ones.

So, with all of these things and more, when it comes to dealing with a loved one who may have an attitude or behavior that hurts your feelings or that clashes with you, it is twice as hard to remove yourself from the situation and explore your own judgements, expectations, and to release the fair or unfair, right or wrong, feeling and thought that’s going on when in that situation.

For as challenging as this may be, acknowledging the added component to this type of relationship and bond, as well as your own views and expectations when it comes to family/loved ones (such as you wanting to feel loved, understood, accepted and wanting the best for your loved ones according to your idea of what’s best, etc.) you make a huge step forward in being able to pursue inner growth and diffuse the tension within an unpleasant situation involving a loved one.  This type of awareness gives you a pinch of objectivity that you can keep in mind when you’re dealing with an unpleasant family situation or when you are angry at a loved one for something they said or did.  In having some objectivity, you can slowly open yourself up to seeing the hidden lesson about yourself through that interaction and you can also try to transform the interaction and relationship in one that no longer holds friction or unpleasant feelings (or at the very least, you can reduce those feelings to a minimum).

The tendency to focus on the unpleasant situations when I write about inner growth and challenges is because the situations that are exciting, happy and peaceful don’t make us question much because we welcome those situations with open arms.  In a moment of peace everything and everyone is resonating with us, we’re all on the same page so to speak.  Being on the same page doesn’t bring about internal exploration because there is balance and harmony in that moment we’re living, in that interaction we’re having.  It is the unpleasant feelings that make us uncomfortable and that can push us to pursue questioning what we’re holding on to and what we’re judging, and what we can work on, if we choose to do so and if we’re on a path of self-discovery to pursue inner growth and have the desire to transform these unpleasant situations into ones of balance and harmony.

Not everyone agrees that this type of inner growth and transformation can happen.  And as I always like to say, that’s ok.  It’s not right or wrong, it’s about what you feel is in tune with who you are and what you believe; but in order to reach a place of clarity with yourself you need to step outside of yourself to recognize who you really are from the heart.  So much of what we think and how we react has been what we’ve been taught or what we’ve seen growing up; that’s how it is, but we can go way beyond that if we are inclined to do so.

I believe each one of us has the potential to reach a state of peace from within no matter what’s outside of us, but in order to do so we must believe it and be open to letting go of our “old” ways while living with people that hold on to those “old” ways.  Family relationships are the ones that affect us the most, that we are strongly tied to emotionally and physically, and so they play a major role in our life.  As long as we look at ourselves though and find solutions that work for us, not only do you pursue inner growth, but you automatically transform the dynamic to one that doesn’t bring you down.

I’m curious to know what you think when it comes to family relationships and dealing with unpleasant situations or contrasting family members (the ones that seem to be able and push all the right buttons)?  What have you found works for you in pursuing these relationships with less friction and more harmony?

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