Posts Tagged 'independence'

Living for Ourselves

Most of us come to a point in our lives when we question why we are doing what we are doing, and many of us come to realize that we may be living our lives in an effort to make our parents happy. This realization can dawn when we are in our 20s, our 40s, or even later, depending upon how tight a hold our family of origin has on our psyche. We may feel shocked or depressed by this information, but we can trust that it is coming to us at this time because we are ready to find out what it would mean to live our lives for ourselves, following the call of our own soul, and refusing any longer to be beholden to someone else’s expectations.

One of the most common reasons we are so tied into making our parents, or others, happy, is that we were not properly mirrored when we were children. We were not honored as individuals in our own right, with a will and purpose of our own, to be determined by our own unfolding. As a result, we learned to look outside of ourselves for approval, support, and direction rather than look within. The good news is that the part of us that was not adequately nurtured is still there, inside us, like a seed that has not yet received the sunlight and moisture it needs to open and to allow its inner contents to unfurl. It is never too late to provide ourselves with what we need to awaken this inner being.

There are many ways to create a safe container for ourselves so that we can turn within and shine the light of awareness there. We may join a support group, go to therapy, or start a practice of journaling every day for half an hour. This experience of becoming is well worth the difficult work that may be required of us to get there. In whatever process we choose, we may feel worse before we feel better, but we will ultimately find out how to live our lives for ourselves and how to make ourselves happy.

DailyOM

Space in Togetherness

spaceAs relationships evolve, lives gradually become entwined. We tend to have a great deal in common with the people who attract us, and our regard for them compels us to trust their judgment. While our lives may seem to run together so smoothly that the line dividing them cannot be seen, we remain separate beings. To disregard these barriers is to sacrifice independence. It is our respect for the fact that our lives exist independently of the lives of others that allows us to set emotional and physical boundaries, to explore our interests and capabilities even when people close to us do not understand our partialities, and to agree to disagree. Maintaining healthy barriers is a matter of recognizing the point at which our principles and those of our loved ones and peers no longer overlap.

Human beings must relentlessly fight the temptation to follow the crowd. Naturally, we want to be liked, accepted, and admired, and it often seems that the easiest way to win approval is to ally ourselves with others. When we assume that our standards are the same as those of the people close to us without first examining our own intentions, we do ourselves a disservice. The barriers that exist between us are a reminder that our paths in life will be unique, and we must each accept that “I” and “we” can coexist peacefully. Our reactions, our likes and dislikes, our loves, our goals, and our dreams may or may not align with those of others, but we should neither ask others to embrace what we hold dear nor feel compelled to embrace what they hold dear.

As you learn to define yourself as an emotionally and intellectually distinct individual, you will grow to appreciate your autonomy. However much you enjoy the associations that bind you to others and provide you with a sense of identity, your concept of self will ultimately originate in your own soul. The healthy barriers that tell you where you end and the people around you begin will give you the freedom to pursue your development apart from those whose approval you might otherwise be tempted to seek out. Others will continue to play a role in your existence, but their values will not direct its course, and the relationships you share will remain marvelously balanced and harmonious as a result.

DailyOM

Permanently Parents

Once individuals become parents, they are parents forevermore. Their identities change perceptively the moment Mother Nature inaugurates them mom or dad. Yet the role they undertake when they welcome children into their lives is not a fixed one. As children move from one phase of their lives to the next, parental roles change. When these transitions involve a child gaining independence, many parents experience an empty nest feeling. Instead of feeling proud that their children have achieved so much—whether the flight from the nest refers to the first day of kindergarten or the start of college—parents feel they are losing a part of themselves. However, when approached thoughtfully, this new stage of parental life can be an exciting time in which mothers and fathers rediscover themselves and relate to their children in a new way.

As children earn greater levels of independence, their parents often gain unanticipated freedom. Used to being depended upon by and subject to the demands of their children, parents sometimes forget that they are not only mom or dad but also individuals. As the nest empties, parents can alleviate the anxiety and sadness they feel by rediscovering themselves and honoring the immense strides their children have made in life. The simplest way to honor a child undergoing a transition is to allow that child to make decisions and mistakes appropriate to their level of maturity. Freed from the role of disciplinarian, parents of college-age children can befriend their offspring and undertake an advisory position. Those with younger children beginning school or teenagers taking a first job can plan a special day in which they express their pride and explain that they will always be there to offer love and support.

An empty nest can touch other members of the family unit as well. Young people may feel isolated or abandoned when their siblings leave the nest. As this is normal, extra attention can help them feel more secure in their newly less populated home. Spouses with more leisure time on their hands may need to relearn how to be best friends and lovers. Other family members will likely grieve less when they understand the significance of the child’s new phase of life. The more parents both celebrate and honor their children’s life transitions, the less apprehension the children will feel. Parents who embrace their changing nest while still cherishing their offspring can look forward to developing deeper, more mature relationships with them in the future.

DailyOM

The Start of Change

It is easy to believe that in leaving our childhood homes and embarking upon the journey of adulthood, we have effectively removed ourselves from harmful and self-perpetuating familial patterns. In looking closely at ourselves, however, we may discover that our behaviors and beliefs are still those that were impressed upon us during our youth by our parents, grandparents, and the generations that preceded them. We may find ourselves unconsciously perpetuating cycles of the previous generations, such as fear of having enough, not showing affection, and secrecy patterns. Yet the transmission of negative patterns from one generation to the next is not inevitable. It is possible to become the endpoint at which negative family cycles that have thrived for generations are exhausted and can exert their influence no longer. Breaking the pattern is a matter of overcoming those values imprinted upon us long ago in order to replace them with pure love, tolerance, and conscious awareness.

Even if you have struggled with the cumulative effects of family cycles that were an expression of established modes of living and a reflection of the strife your ancestors were forced to endure, you can still liberate yourself from the effects of your family history. The will to divest yourself of old, dark forms of familial energy and carry forth a new loving energy may come in the form of an epiphany. You may one day simply realize that certain aspects of your early life have negatively affected your health, happiness, and ability to evolve as an individual. Or you may find that in order to transcend long-standing patterns of limiting beliefs, irrational behavior, and emotional stiltedness, you have to question your values and earnestly examine how your family has impacted your personality. Only when you understand how family cycles have influenced you can you gain freedom from those cycles.

In order to truly change, you must give yourself permission to change. Breaking family patterns is in no way an act of defiance or betrayal. It is important that you trust yourself implicitly when determining the behaviors and beliefs that will help you overwrite the generation-based cyclical value system that limited your individual potential. Many people are on the earth at this time to break family cycles, for all of you are true pioneers. In breaking negative family cycles, you will discover that your ability to express your feelings and needs grows exponentially and that you will embark upon a journey toward greater well-being that can positively impact generations to come.

DailyOM


Month at a Glance

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