Family life is ripe with spiritual growth opportunities. Each family has their own dynamic. I often remind them how, as family members, we tend to make comments we would never make to friends; as though we slip into a subtle, deep, unconsciousness around family. Our words can at be unkind, insensitive and hurtful. It seems we have created an unwritten right to say whatever we think, simply because we grew up under the same roof.
In taking a closer look at this unwritten right, I am keenly aware of the inherent connection between the word right and righteousness, a family (and American) favorite. Not only do family members provide unsolicited opinions (which, for the record, are just that, opinions) and guidance to each other, they can be self-proclaimed experts in what is best for everyone else. Righteousness runs deep in our culture, especially as it pertains to religion/spirituality, politics and work.
I am regularly reminded of how very few situations are as simple as they seem. My teachers universally caution me to avoid passing judgment or assume I understand the full complexity of any given situation. I am often in awe of how seemingly “bad situations” are often catalysts for change. They are perfectly ripe and timed, perfect for our spiritual process.
I am a spiritual nomad. I moved away from conventional religious practices, drawing from different ancient sacred traditions. I sit regularly in contemplative stillness to awaken to Truth. This is not a practice I share. It is a path I walk alone. There are often no words. I would not assume “my path” is the “right path” for anyone else. I only share insight with others when specifically asked or when being paid to do so. A teacher reminded me today that there are many paths to Truth. There is no “one right path” and one is not better than another.
Righteousness is the mask of the ego. Family members are well advised to keep their truth and opinions to themselves unless asked. This holds true for all. Preaching or pointing to flaws in others is a sure sign the ego is firmly in charge. Tread carefully.
Consider the above and ask yourself truthfully what role you play in your family. Do you offer unsolicited guidance to family and friends? Do you have an opinion on everyone else’s situation? Are you inclined to gossip or say unkind things about family and others? Recognize the only subject you are an expert in is you, maybe! And if you are super stuck causing untold misery in your family and community, when will you have spread enough suffering to finally admit the problem is you? It’s never too late to change the way you interact with family. Taking responsibility for unkind words and deeds is truly healing for all involved. Choose love and healing…it’s good for you!