If You Think You're Enlightened, Go Spend a Week with Your Family
The title of this post is a quote from Ram Dass.
Ah, the other “F” word, family.
The holidays are coming up, which means get ready to snap back into the angry 15 year-old who wanted to sneak out and never come back.
When we physically enter the family zone, all the growth we’ve been working on pretty much goes out the window.
Our family dynamic sucks us back into its dysfunction whirlwind. This is because our family, especially parents, have not experienced secondary change. They are the same people who gave us ultimatums and didn’t allow us to express our feelings.
So what do we do?
We change them.
OK, I understand we can not change anyone. That should never be our intent. But the dynamic of the family can change if one member changes and guess what? That one member is you, assuming you are on a path to growth and if you’re reading this, you probably are.
Enter the family function the new version of you this year. Fight the tug that wants to pull you back in. Practice active listening, be metacognitive, don’t react, draw boundaries, and most importantly, don’t participate in triangles. (That’s when mom complains about dad to you instead of just going to him. Or your sister gets you on her side to bully your brother. Advise them to go straight to the source.)
Don’t engage. Lead by example. Show them you are different now, that you have grown.
There will be resistance. They may get upset with you. But you must hold your ground. The stronger your stance, the more your family dynamic will change. It’s difficult, I know. But there is an opportunity to break a cycle here.
You see, this is about more than you and your journey. It’s about sparking change in others. Giving. You may feel like you get lost in your family, but you effect them more than you know.
Trust me. If you wear a different hat this year and be the change you’ve always wanted to see in your family, you will be giving them the greatest gift you’ve ever given them, a chance at growth.
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the moniker The Angry Therapist. He runs a practice that redefines “therapy” in the traditional sense. Kim became known as an unconventional therapist who worked out of the box by seeing clients at coffee shops, on hikes, in a CrossFit box. He also believes that the internet can act as a therapeutic tool with an online community as the main space for growth and healing. He lives in Los Angeles.