For many years the source of some angst for me was family gatherings. I read a book a number of years ago that shifted my attitude from dread to pleasant appreciation and anticipation. That book, which I still reference today, is Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention.
Everything about this human existence is relationship. We have relationship with other people, with material goods, with animals, with nature, with God and with ourselves. Relationship is the cauldron of growth in the human school on planet Earth, thereby it behooves us to get interested in it.
Dr. Dyer writes in The Power of Intention “The ability to see yourself in all of humanity is a characteristic of the holy relationship. It’s the ability to celebrate and honor in all others, the place where we’re all one.” Holy relationship connotes recognition of the beauty and presence of the Divine in all interaction. When we are present and interacting from this place, curiosity, wonder and ease naturally arise in our relationships.
Well, that may be all well and beautiful, but what about my family relationships?
Dr. Dyer goes on to write “Somehow we allow the expectations and demands of our family members to be the source of so much unhappiness and stress, when what we want is to be authentically ourselves and at peace with our relatives. The conflict seems too often to be a choice between being authentic, which means no peace with certain relatives, or having peace at the price of being inauthentic. Being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your relatives. First, though, you may have to assess your relationship with the closest relative of all – you. How others treat you, you’ll discover (if you are brave and honest!) has a lot to do with how you treat yourself and thereby teach others to treat you.”
“Being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your relatives. “
Just by beginning to observe your interactions with curiosity, rather than defensiveness and judgment, begins to shift them. Before going into family gatherings still your self through a walk in nature, a meditation, a prayer, then call upon the Divine to be guided in the interaction. Also Dr. Dyer adds
“Before family get-togethers, I’d remind myself that I am what I choose to be in any and all circumstances, and I choose to be authentic and have a good time.”
Phrases that may be helpful when you feel yourself getting upset are:
- That is an interesting point of view; tell me more.
- I never thought of it that way.
- Is that so.
Other thoughts Dr. Dyer shares are:
- Intend for all your relatives what you intend for yourself. Want peace for yourself, then want it even more your relatives. Envision it, feel it.
- Be the peace you’re seeking from others.
- Ask to view your relatives from the perspective of the Divine and hold the intention to do so always.
- Choose not to be offended. Choose not to take things personally. We live our own lives, and although there are intersections, each one of us has a totally unique experience. When my sister and I visit about our childhoods, we really have some serious doubts that we grew up in the same house with the same brothers and the same parents, because our experiences are so comparatively different.
- Act as if peace is already is. To see the goodness in others, treat them as if that is all you see. We actually see what we look for! Try it out for yourself.
- Let go and Let God.
- Practice forgiveness. The following is a beautiful reminder of what forgiveness provides from A Course in Miracles:
- Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it.
- Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world?
- Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that can never be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset?
- All this forgiveness offers you.
- Embrace, practice and be gratitude. Everyone, really I mean everyone, has a divine purpose in your life. I love the concept of noble friends, which is that some souls take on the duty to be the petty tyrants in our lives, the pain in our asses, and the thorns in our sides. Our noble friends grow us into open, compassionate, and equanimous beings. They are worthy of our honor and gratitude!