The last post was focused on making distinctions between the various facets of self in order to create higher levels of harmony and synergy between them. The essence being that when we consciously attend to each aspect of ourselves, make space for and get in right relations with them, we gain much more dominion over our overall experience. We choose our responses in present time rather than reacting from old stories we're still carting around. We know when to reference the wisdom of our bodies, when to defer to the intellect, how to honor the inner child's needs and why we need to hand over the reigns to our essential Selves.
The next obvious task at hand involves looking at our relationships. So much of our experience here is shaped by the people we inherit and choose to coexist with. These "others" can be looked at from many different angles but I have chosen to look at it from the following four lenses below. We are so heavily shaped by the conditioning, values, and world views of our original family which makes that facet of "other" a no brainer. Then we have what I refer to as the "created family" or those that we commit ourselves to that is by our design. The next layer of web we weave around us is our community and this is comprised of the people, groups, and affiliations that we gravitate toward and buy into. Lastly, is the "other" group which is the vast segment of folks that we either directly reject, don't ever come into contact with or we simply don't have enough shared reality with to have an informed sense of who these people are. "Other" comprises anyone outside of our purview, making this the largest segment by far.
Our original family dictates so much of who we become. There are familial patterns that are passed down from one generation to the next in the exact same fashion that we inherit our eye color, propensity for hot climates and proclivity toward creative work. Beyond what is stored in our DNA, are all the little ways we are conditioned through our original family to perceive the world, respond to it, relate to others, relate to our bodies, communicate in relationship, etc. etc. We unwittingly become entrenched in a particular world-view and until we have the wherewithal to see this for what it is, we can't make the decision as to whether the values, beliefs and modus operandi we've assumed is in alignment with who we actually are. There are certain scenarios in which this is more clear. Such is the case with someone who is gay that emerges in a overtly homophobic family system. However it is more common for the overarching ethos of a family system to be in partial conflict and partial alignment with the individual that emerges from it. The work here is to make the distinctions between which beliefs and values you have inherited that serve you and resonate with you and which beliefs and values do not echo your personal view of the world and how you want to operate within it. This is a life long process that requires self-awareness, discernment and discretion. We can reject certain philosophies of our parents and still maintain healthy boundaries and relationships with them. Ideally we avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water because just as I loathe my dad's lack of frustration management and how that plays out through me, I also adore his work ethic and no BS approach to life, which also lives through me.
When we are going through the process of determining who we are in light of our original family and on the flip-side, who we are not, we begin to determine both consciously and unconsciously who and what we want in our lives that will make us feel happy and whole. The significant people in our lives that we end up marrying or forming long standing intimate relationships with are what I refer to as our chosen family. Who we choose will in part be in reaction to early wounding from our original family and some of it will be in response to what worked for us. Who and what we end up pulling in is an amalgamation of the pain we encountered due to unmet needs and the gifts we received from our caregiver's expression of love, their strengths, and the lessons we gleaned from looking to them for how to be in the world. The inherent propulsion to heal will invariably lead us to people and experiences that evoke both the pain and joy of our early environments so that we have the opportunity to transcend the painful patterns and integrate in the benefits we received. It's a mixed bag for all of us and no one is exempt from sorting through it and figuring out what we want to keep and what needs to be tossed (or dropkicked). The task here involves not only being cognizant of who we find ourselves drawn to in our significant relationships but also what it is they have to teach us. We can assume that what often underlies the attraction and magnetic pull to certain others (as well as aversion) is to a large degree informed by our early conditioning. While it's not very romantic, our "chosen family" is not just because we resonate with these people but also because they trigger all our "shit" so that we can look at it and hopefully deal with it. Our chosen family is here to teach us how to "grow up" and out of dated and unproductive ways of being towards ourselves and others. They love us not because of who we were but who we are becoming and not because of the assets and liabilities we inherited but because of the gifts and grace that emerges through us as we become more and more of who we are meant to be.
The community we surround ourselves with is an extension of our chosen family. They are the work environments, friendships, alliances, and social groups that we are drawn to for similar reasons as stated above in regards to our chosen family. They're reminiscent of the aspects of our childhoods that caused us to suffer and on the inverse, made us feel safe and accepted. Therefore, they provide further opportunity to learn and grow from the advantages and disadvantages we received early on. They also further solidify our identity and continually affirm our sense of self, whomever we take that to be. They reinforce what we have chosen to prioritize and value. Religious or spiritual affiliations, sports teams, political parties, professional industries, hobbies, etc. are all part of the infrastructure we build to maintain our sense of identity and feel a sense of belonging in the world. The allegiances we establish are positive additions to our experience to the extent that they foster connection, growth, and a sense of being part of something larger. That said, it's important to consider the ways in which the groups we devote our energy and time to inhibit us from pursuing "out of the box" people and experiences that could enlarge and enrich our experience by offering us new ideas, opportunities and ways of being in the world. The danger of the "group" is not only in the blind adherence to ideology that can occur, but in how the over-identification with these groups can limit us: our potential, our ability to forge connections with those outside of our immediate circle and ultimately keep us from understanding and empathizing with "others". Which when looked at from a macro lens, is a significant contributing factor to the level of discord we are seeing play out right now.
There are fundamental aspects of the human experience that supersede the color of our skin, our religious beliefs and where we fall on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They are our joy and awe when greeted with a new life, our grief when faced with the loss of someone we love, our hopes and fears when we think of our children's future and the reconciliation we all undergo when we recognize that we can't dodge death. These very essential parts of being here are what unite us, connect us, and offer us a powerful antidote to the pain of all that keeps us separate: the fear, the lack of understanding, the misplaced hate. On a surface level, we may have differing political orientations and ideas about what happens when we die but the grievances we hold against one another for thinking differently are only surface deep, what's right below is a bedrock of humanity and sameness. When we reach across the chasm of "other" and begin to see how much we share, we begin to move beyond our fixed notions of who we are, who we belong to and who belongs to us. We have always belonged to one another. This is the work for all of us: to recognize self in other and other in self. We tip the scales when each of us wakes up to the understanding of our interconnected and interdependent nature. Someday, not too far from now, we will be the majority and what drives our actions will not be fear, but love.