Friends and family in the present have been our companions in past lifetimes. They shared previous lives with us, but in different roles. For this lifetime, you choose to be with people you’ve known before so you have the opportunity to balance karma with them. If the relationship was positive in the past, you can enjoy their companionship again and continue to develop the bond. If the relationship was negative, you’re bound together to bring the relationship to a positive level.
Family relationships are drawn together based upon both positive and negative associations. Regardless of how wonderful or how harsh a family environment is, the choice to come into a family is made at a soul level. The present situation is occurring so that every family member has an opportunity to spiritually grow. The family dynamics provide the soul with the curriculum it needs to evolve.
When you meet family members again in this life, your subconscious remembers them and the events you’ve experienced together in the past. Similar situations will be repeated again and again through various incarnations until lessons are learned. A soul may purposely choose a difficult, harmful or abusive relationship because the soul is most concerned with the lessons of a situation rather than the specifics of the situation.
For me, the most difficult and challenging relationship I have is with my mom. It’s tumultuous and turbulent at times because we disagree on so many things. It’s extremely hard to see eye to eye because our values do not match. I value spiritual growth above money and material things, she doesn’t. Our values are vibrationally out of alignment, creating conflict. It’s like speaking two different languages and neither of us want to learn the other’s language.
My karma with her runs deep. I can tell because my reactions to her are strong and quick, like we’ve been performing the same roles and actions over and over again. As if we’ve been dealing with the same dirty laundry that never gets clean. My reactions to her are so unlike my reactions to other people where I am more detached and non-reactive. If a friend makes a casual comment about me that I don’t agree with, I let it roll off me. But if my mom were to say the same comment, I react irrationally with rage. The anger is out of context with the present situation - that’s Karmic baggage.
The relationship has gotten easier the last couple of years because the things that used to trigger me no longer do so I don’t feel the need to fight for what I think is right. We’ve both grown and have learned to accept one another so we don’t butt heads as often.
I realized the best thing I can do for myself and the relationship is to work on my own issues. I only have control over myself and how I deal with others. When I control my reactions, I reduce my stress and anger. Here are some of the strategies I use that help with my relationship with her and with other challenging family relationships as well.
Empathy & Acceptance
I no longer take responsibility for changing behavior or thoughts I disagree with. I try to accept that different people have different needs. When I face a disagreement, instead of reacting in anger, I take a step back to evaluate the situation, using wisdom and discernment.
Instead of continuing to fight about who's right, I just agree to disagree and understand that the other person has a different perspective. I try to understand why the other person feels the way they do. With logic and kindness, I can see they are struggling with their own issues. I can offer the benefit of the doubt and allow them to work out their own inner conflict. I don’t know exactly what they are going through so if I can just empathize and accept them. I can give space without adding fuel to the fire. Fuel just leads to overreaction and tension.
When I go into a situation with a positive mindset, I’m better able to put differences aside even if temporarily. Where I would ordinarily react in anger, I remember to take some deep breaths before doing or saying anything. If I’m too tempted to fight back, I remove myself from the situation and go somewhere to calm myself. When I detach from the idea that my way is always the best way, a win-win solution can be found where everyone walks away satisfied. When I make an effort and compromise, it motivates others to make an effort to get along.
Sometimes it feels like nothing can be done to mend difficult family relationships, but I have seen that once I try to resolve conflicts within the family peacefully, other members begin to make an effort too. When we all make an effort, we begin to balance our karma with each other. Eventually, we will have learned the advanced lessons we were meant to learn and no longer need to repeat the same patterns. The karmic cycle will be complete and we will be blessed with more enjoyable relationships and lessons.