“Stop worrying about pleasing others so much. Do more of what makes you happy.” ~Unknown
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you break away from your family. Right? We are all familiar with this. It happens when you turn eighteen, go off to college, and move out the house—and out of the state or country for some.
This is the expectation of society on the whole. Then what keeps us so bound to our families that we sometimes feel paralyzed, afraid of making the “wrong” decisions for our career, relationships, or simply how we choose to live?
Despite each of us eventually breaking through the normal cycle of leaving home and starting our own life, many of us still feel obligated to our family, more specifically our parents.
We feel like we have to choose a specific career path or be with a specific type of person for marriage and beyond. It’s like this unspoken obligation to please our parents, except we know that it can’t last forever and there’s got to be another way.
There is another way. And I know because I’ve been living through it over the past several years.
I was a rebellious child, mostly because my father was so strict and I wasn’t allowed to do anything—well, not much. (I’ll give him some credit, while other credit goes to my mother for allowing friends to come over on occasion.)
But rebellion doesn’t serve healthy relationships and is bound to transform into healthy independence and respect at some point. For some, it’s much later in life than others; I’ve spoken with several people in their late fifties who still feel obligated to their parents yet wildly rebellious and, thereby, resentful.
For me, it started with realizing that I value family. There’s no getting around that. I love my family. Period.
I also love myself, which means that there’s no way I’m going to give up my heart’s desires and dreams to acquiesce to what they think is best for my life, like I had to all throughout my childhood.
Yes, I’m a passionate woman who has a strong desire to break free of the practical way of living. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.
At the same time, I demanded and knew in my heart that true love, especially love between family members, ought to stand up to tests like this.
No doubt, it came with its price. There were several moments when I had to share my desires while lovingly holding space for my family to simply be. I came to them on several occasions over the last years (or they came to me and I opened up) with conscious decisions I made for my life.
Now, let me reiterate this: conscious decisions. If they weren’t conscious, there was no way I could have done this. So, I shared with them my conscious decision while I stood in the fire of their adverse opinions and reactions.
Standing in the fire means I held on to my desire and my love for family while I faced down their criticism. This was challenging. And it burned.
I could feel it all throughout my body. But because I had consciously decided with a strong intention of love and a knowing that it came from my heart, I was able to hold on to my center—no matter what.
I was able to stand there and let their criticism and opinions wash over me while remaining in a loving space. This would not be possible without that conscious choice.
Since then, even though it’s been a process and there are still many fires to stand in, it has been increasingly easier to simply be me and share my “unpractical path” with them. Their expectations are beginning to subside, as they realize that my life may be a bit unorthodox.
I love them anyway. Yes, you heard that right: I love them no matter how unorthodox my life is; therefore, I can influence them to drop their defenses and decide whether they’ll love or hate me because of the life I choose.
By standing up for myself in this way, I let go of any power they had over me and hand it back to them, giving them the option to continue loving me or not. Because I know that no matter what they choose, I’ll always love them.
Standing up for yourself isn’t an easy process. It’s especially hard when you’re trying to build a life for yourself that you actually love, because that’s the time when you most need support.
Holding on to the earnest vision that only good can come from standing in your heart’s desires, you’ll realize what true love really is, and it will completely reframe how you approach life and relationships.
Family often has no clue of the ties and chains they’ve placed on you; therefore, it’s important to come from a loving place when standing your ground and claiming your life.
They don’t know what they’re doing. Would you punish them for that? I wouldn’t. I didn’t. I chose to love them anyways, no matter what, the same way I desire to be love, no matter what.
Break free image via Shutterstock