Family Matters

| October 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Mrs. Freud

No matter who I talk to, I have yet to find the ideal family “in the flesh.” Family is the only universe we know in the first years of life. It’s no wonder that we compare to it everything we encounter from then on, often throughout our entire life.

There’s a saying, “If you want to see how far you´ve come, go and visit your family of origin.” Family members know how to push our buttons. Expectations are nowhere as high as with them and from them. Bound by blood relations and history together, we often have a love-hate relationship. No one can wrong us or misunderstand us or judge us as harshly as a family member: sibling rivalry, jealousy, lack of boundaries, everything is fair game.

Accepting the reality that we can´t change others is often very helpful and a means of loosening the bondage from family dynamics that don´t serve us but hold us back. Sometimes our subconscious knows all these things, but our feelings are still there. With my clients I use a technique that I found counter intuitive at first, but was quickly convinced of its effectiveness. If there is a family member that has hurt your feelings or wronged you in a way that you keep thinking about it even months or years later, try the following:

Sit for a few minutes in a quiet, comfortable place where you won´t be disturbed. Take a deep breath. Create quiet space in your mind. Then bring that person to mind and the situation that occurred will usually become present by itself. Most likely, the dialog in your head will start, what you could have or should have said, etc. On your next exhale, let it go. You can form the words “enough” or “stop” or “let it go” in your head or out loud. Then, reconfirm your insight that you can´t and won´t change that other person. That brings some relief. To detach, start to send loving thoughts towards that person, wishing him or her well in their life.

Notice how they become detached from you. This process brings distance between the two of you. You are not part of this person´s journey. This person is not part of yours (no matter what happens in real life). Wishing them well reaffirms our knowledge that we are not a bad person, that there was just a bad situation. It strengthens our belief that we do our best at all times with the knowledge we have at that time.

Sending loving thoughts helps us also to carry on with our own life, letting go of replaying the outcome of the situation over and over again, robbing us of energy and focus. It also helps us to deal with that person when we see them again (which is often the case with family members, whereas we would not meet again if they were other people in our life).

Sending loving thoughts also gives room to the fact that the other person loves us at some level, that they wish us well. Just because we don´t get along does not mean we are bad people. Not getting along is not a crime, just a fact of life. If you are one of the many people who want to please everybody, this will be difficult but healing insight. Trying to be friends with everybody is very exhausting, often disappointing and distracts us from our real life purpose and ultimate fulfillment.

Author Sabine Starr is a psychologist licensed in Vienna, Austria, currently living and working in Mission Hills. She has written numerous articles for professional psychology journals. For further information, visit and follow her blog at; and a new social media offering is


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