We all know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
No matter how much we love our parents or even how much we’ve run from them, they provided the basic building blocks. And, even though we all at some point in our lives giggle (or choke) at how we’re inevitably turning into or sounding like or parents, do we really understand the magnitude of it?
Answer: way less than even the most self-aware of us are aware.
In order for you to design a beautiful relationship with yourself in all areas of your life, you have to deal with the tree. In this case, your family.
Not what you wanted to hear? I get it. It’s a lot easier to pretend that your family “stuff” has been dealt with, or used to be much worse, or packed away and in the past. But what if the following assertion were true:
Who you are in your relationship with your family is who you are (and how you show up) with everything in your life.
Still breathing (or reading)? Yes, this would mean everything is indeed connected and that addressing your past is critical to your overall health and happiness.
Physical & Emotional DNA
I promise you, most of us have never fully dealt with how deep the emotional, not just physical DNA goes. Sure, we all know we have our mother’s complexion and our father’s nose. But do we ever really deal head-on with the extent to which we not only have our dad’s pretty blue eyes, but we may also have his wandering eyes?
In some way, shape, or form, who you are today, even if it’s the polar opposite of who your parents are or were, is still a reaction to them. Is still not wholly and freely designed by you.
Whether our parents are or were kind and generous, stingy or condescending. Whether they were alcoholics or cheaters, happily married or miserably complacent. Whether they stayed for the kids or ran away without looking back. How could their character traits and issues not leave a permanent imprint on us.
They have to.
Your lineage and family dynamics are impacting who you are in your life and the choices you make.
The fact is, we inherit our behaviors from a set of principles that we learn from our family. Yet, it’s our job to evolve what’s not working. Why? If you don’t stop your family’s patterns, they will repeat with your children and their children and their children. For example, if you hate your sister, what makes you think that your little girls are going to get along? You don’t know.
Now who’s going to break those patterns? Someone has to. How about YOU? By doing this, you will not only evolve your lineage, you’ll make a great life for yourself on the way.
So where do you start?
1) Go through your family tree (mom, dad, sisters, brother, cousins, grandparents) and rate your relationship with each person on a scale from 1-10. How much are you loving them? Respecting them? Admiring them? Do you trust them? Have you discussed things you wished were different from the past? How generous are you being with them? What do they think of you? All of that goes into the rating.
Start with one family member. For example, let’s start with that sister who averages a “6” on your scale. What are the dynamics that are at play in your relationship with her? Write this down.
2) See your own arrogance in the relationship. Where are you justifying not liking your sister? Where are you judging her? Write it down.
3) Write out how you believe you’ve ‘tried’ in the relationship. In what way? How do you defend your belief that you’ve done everything possible to make this relationship great? For example, “I’m the one who always calls” or “I’m a giver and she is a taker.”
4) What have you not forgiven? Maybe you snuck out one night when you were in high school and your sister told your parents. Is that moment stuck in your mind? It’s probably time to confess that to her and figure out what happened. You both need to tell the same story or at least know each other’s versions.
5) How do you think you’re better? Chances are there is a lot of judging going on. It’s important to recognize this. Do you think that you’re smarter, more successful, more cultured? Make a note of the ways you are comparing and coming out better (or worse) in your opinion.
6) Scan all of your other relationships in your life: friends, significant other, children, etc. and make notes on how any dynamics in those relationships remind you of the one you’re analyzing here. Is there a character trait that keeps coming up? Is this a pattern that keeps repeating in your life?
I know these are tough, vulnerable questions … but they’re worth it.
We tend to think that everyone else in our families has these dysfunctional traits except us. If you listen to people talk about their family dynamics, they speak as if they are the victim of it, not a participant! What if this year, you took a more powerful approach where you could observe yourself in action as a critical player in the dynamic? That way, you reclaim the power to change what you don’t like.
The result can be extraordinary. Like a chemical reaction, one person’s behavioral changes can alter the whole dynamic of the relationship. YOU can be that change that creates a deeper connection, and a more gentle and loving holiday for everyone.
So, why do many of us avoid working on our family?
Because it isn’t easy work. Working on your family is about knowing yourself and forgiveness. We tend to run from the truth and don’t comfortably forgive. Most of us would rather be self-righteous, hold onto our stories, be fake about it and say we’re just too different, than deal with fixing the relationships deeply. But why this work is so important is because this is where you’ll start to change the relationship with the person in the mirror: you.
The same girl that can’t seem to hold onto a friendship or who married the wrong man is the same kid who fought with her sister or rejected her crazy mother. In order to heal that little girl and help her grow up, you need to deal with your family. Through coaching and family work, you will start to see how everything’s connected and that life is about learning lessons and evolving yourself.
It is up to us to author who we are and who we will be in our lives.
P.S. If you’re only going to make one of our free tele-talks this year, the December Family Matters talk with HG Life Co-President and Expert Coach Laurie Gerber is a must-attend. You’ll come away with a whole new perspective on how to handle the holidays. This is one of our most popular offerings — reserve your spot today!