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Certain familial demands and expectations may lead to inner conflict or even personal crisis. Your life crises tell you that you need to break free of beliefs that no longer serve your personal development. Life crises are pivotal points at which you are presented with a real challenge: choosing to change or to stagnate and suffer. Every crossroad you experience signifies a new phase in your life and a new cycle of change.

This holds true whether you are adopting a healthier lifestyle or a new spiritual practice, changing your career, relationship or political beliefs. And every change inevitably leads to letting go of familiar but unsupportive people, places and other ‘stuff’ and moving on to the next stage of your life. But moving on according to your personal choice is sometimes uncomfortable and even scary because often your family disapproves your choices with all too familiar prejudice “Everyone in our family thinks you’re wrong.”

It is extremely difficult to feel like an outsider in your own family, to experience disapproval from the very people that are supposed to love, support and encourage you. Tribal influence and loyalty to your family is an instinct, a powerful unwritten law, especially in times of crisis. You’re expected to feel loyal toward a family member regardless of how you feel inside. When you don’t feel like honoring the expectation of loyalty toward a particular family member, when being around this person makes you feel deeply disturbed or even hurt, you feel enormous pressure from your tribe to comply with the expectations of family allegiance.

I certainly believe that family loyalty is a beautiful attribute, especially when it is a commitment that serves you as well as other family members. However, when family demands and expectations interfere with your ability to protect yourself, conflict with your sense of self-love and wellbeing, or worse yet, disturb your health, you need to FREE YOURSLEF from this “family allegiance” belief and release any guilt around this decision.

Loyalty to another person means that you respect them and love them enough to always be honest with them in a gentle way. It does not mean to give over your power to them in hope to get their love and approval in return. Loyalty is best expressed in this equation, which shows how loyalty is based on balance:

You x Honesty + Love = Them x Honesty + Love 

Loyalty

If you feel you have been bullied, abused or betrayed in any way, be honest with yourself, acknowledge your feelings and give yourself permission to choose what makes you feel better. Honor yourself and make the choice to disconnect from a belief pattern that has no truth for you yet it has power over you. It is said that we teach people how to treat us. Be assertive in your expression of what you are not willing to tolerate. Create respectful boundaries. Recognize and nurture unions with people who support your development and foster your growth and wellbeing.

If you’ve had difficult experiences with your family members, remember that you can still love them even if you disapprove of their behavior. You may not like your parents or siblings based on how you feel about your painful past or even present experiences with them, but still treat them honorably and respectfully. You can choose to carry disappointments and frustrations or you can choose to rise above painful memories and forgive, which would help you find peace in your heart.

In his acclaimed book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra talks about empowering your conscious choice-making process: “At the moment you consciously make a choice, pay attention to your body and ask your body, ‘If I make this choice, what happens?’ If your body sends a message of comfort, that’s the right choice. If your body sends a message of discomfort, then it’s not the appropriate choice…. Only the heart knows the correct answer.”

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2 responses to “Relationship With Your Family: Making Choices”

  1. Abi says:

    Fabulous article and very true. To go against the expectations of your family takes a degree of bravery that many doubt they possess. I know from experience however, that if you can find that bravery (and we all have it, buried deep within) the benefits that come from following your heart are well worth it.

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