Recently, I enjoyed a weekend visit with my brother and his family. Upon our arrival, my 3½ year old nephew helped carry my bag to my room and immediately began asking about ‘the special game’ I had promised to bring along. Since it was dinner time, I said we had to wait until the next day when it would be sunny and warm. He chatted eagerly and enthusiastically with Lucy and me, sharing all the recent news and events he thought we might deem important. And so that night, I went to bed surrounded by family and my nephew’s excitement as he explores the world and relationships that are his life.
The next day we finally got to play ‘the game’ – the squirt game as it became known – super-soakers filled with cold water from the hose. We ran around the yard, squirting, chasing, screaming, laughing, interspersed with bits of 3 year old ‘trash talking’ to challenge the stakes to become more and more wet. The game became a standing afternoon tradition during our stay.
Fifteen years earlier, Lucy and I played this same game with our other nephew and niece. In fact, we frequently remark how playing with our two nephews is a deja-vu experience. The pleasure of playing with them and building meaningful relationship is both a joy and a delightful responsibility.
Knowing where I come from and where my roots are is a strong family norm. We can decide what we want to do with them, but we understand where these roots are and what they are about. I notice my 3 year old nephew already being quite clear who is who in his family, who belongs, including his old Chihuahua dog and who are neighbours, friends or community members. My older nephew and niece have heard stories of our youth, of my long-deceased father. They never knew my father in person, but they know him through stories and pictures. They know they are his descendants. My younger nephew will also hear some of those stories and will know his grandfather through the mannerisms and decisions and values and virtues his own father practises and instills in him.
Knowing our roots helps us know where we belong. It helps us clarify where home is. When we are clear where we belong, we can better find our place in the world, our place in our adult world beyond the family of our childhood. If we are unclear where we belong or never felt like we belonged because abuse, adoption, trauma, tragedy, neglect, immigration, etc, in our family of origin has not been resolved, we tend to carry a deep confusion in our psyches, creating blocks and confusion in our key adult relationships, whether at home or at work.
As my nephew is learning that he belongs to our family, not only through birth, but more importantly, through love, he is developing a conscience which will help him navigate the parameters of this most important reference group – his family. According to Family Constellations Systems theory, three key reference groups help form our sense of belonging: family group, social environment and ethnic group, religion and culture we have grown up in, respectively.
Without us being necessarily conscious of this ‘equilibrium of belonging’ that we are navigating, we are constantly asking these two questions: “What do I have to do to belong?” and “What do I avoid to prevent being excluded?”
The fear of exclusion sits deep within our psyche and we are hardwired as vulnerable children to choose belonging, regardless of the rules, behaviours and norms we take on, rather than choose autonomy. Belonging, as children, is an matter of survival! To belong and to bond with our family, we are required to stand behind our parents and be loyal to them. Can you see where conscience comes into play?
In this last quarter of 2014, I invite you to explore your relationships and where you are creating peace in core relationships and where you are blocked or sabotaging yourself from doing so. Return to your goals and commitments for 2014 and evaluate the results you have attained this far. What yet needs your attention to create more peace in your relationships, whether at home or at work?
As you take your next steps for this last quarter, reflect on these questions:
- Where are the places or groups I belong?
- What do I have to do to belong in these groups?
- What do I avoid to prevent being excluded from them?
- How do these choices and behaviours limit or expand my conscience in love?
- What needs to be transformed or change?
- Where does love need to flow again so I can increase my peace?
I know this may be a difficult inquiry for some of you. It can be helpful to have additional support as you explore these questions and further pursue your journey toward greater inner peace and peace within your relationships, whether personally or in your work. This may be the perfect time to consider a soul coaching partnership with me to help you get unstuck and find the right movement to reflect what makes you whole, balanced and more peaceful.
Namaste, Shirley Lynn