When I first heard the saying ‘family is more than blood’, it felt like a relief because as much as I love and care for my family there were times when I also met people with whom I felt as close and familiar with and who I loved just as dearly as my own family.
With family I got tied up in so many ideals and beliefs that I remember always feeling like I was doing what was expected of me rather than acting on what I felt was true. I always wanted to please my mum especially and play the ‘good’ daughter, so there were many times when I would put aside what I was feeling and do the ‘right’ thing. This of course ended up making me feel exhausted and moody, as I was not honouring of myself in any way.
I was holding this big belief that I had to conform because that was what families do – even when I was quite tired I would push myself to attend family events because of the pressure I put on myself to be there no matter what, and also because I didn’t want to miss out on anything.
Thank goodness I began to question these tightly held beliefs and ideals I had around family, because it was very draining on me and not loving in any way.
I can feel now how holding onto all these beliefs and ideals keep me trapped in some way, and then out of reaction to this it made me act out certain patterns and behaviours in my life to bury what I was truly feeling at these times: for example, I would eat a lot of sugary and comfort foods or would watch a lot of TV or go shopping, all to avoid what I was feeling. The whole way I was living life was in avoidance of myself – a running away from feeling my own strength and power. This is something I felt even more strongly when I became a first-time mother and was bombarded with a load of ‘pictures’ about how to parent instead of trusting that as a woman I have all the innate wisdom and qualities needed within to know how to parent successfully.
Learning to let go of these pictures I adopted that kept me in a spin and further away from being ‘me’ has been a work in progress.
Life for me has become very different as I now embrace people and treat them with the warmth and familiarity I would a dear or close family member. This has become more natural for me as I began to address the relationship with myself first and started to confirm and appreciate all the beautiful qualities that I bring. This was not easy at first as there can be many voices in my head trying to crush my new loving self-talk, but slowly and over time I have been building a deeper connection with myself and this has been key to transforming all the relationships in my life.
I am enjoying a greater connection and intimacy with others that I always thought was only reserved for that one special person in my life or a close family member. I am grateful that I challenged this limiting belief as it has allowed me to see the wider family available to me everywhere I go.
Family for me now has a very different meaning as I have learned to walk through life with an open and loving heart, no longer waiting for the other to first show their love to me to see if I can trust them or if I will be accepted: I see them as my equal and equally as loving as myself, even if they are too shy to express their love in that moment.
For many years I used to feel quite hurt and let down by people and so I went into protecting myself from others, but interestingly this shutting myself off from others hurt far more than how another could have hurt me. I was holding certain people I didn’t know, or trust, accountable for the way in which others had treated me in the past, something that I justified in my own mind but that really held me back from experiencing a deeper and true connection with others.
It took a lot of effort for me to live in this protected way because I had to resist any love that was offered to me: it doesn’t make sense as I was really craving and missing that connection and intimacy with others but I was putting up a huge protective wall that said ‘back off’.
No matter how we are in life or what our demeanour is, deep down we are all wanting to feel loved and accepted.
Having this awareness about myself has supported me to be more understanding when I meet others and to not react to their guard or to judge them in any way. Learning to hold them in love and acceptance with no expectations of receiving anything back has been life changing for me and has allowed the space for another to feel safe to express and to enjoy the connection that is being offered.
By Anna Douglass, International Flight Attendant, Mother, dedicated student of the Ageless Wisdom, Australia