We all live in family systems where the norm was established a long time ago. Family systems are often generations in the making and so set that it is easy to completely take them for granted and overlook the ways that each member contributes to maintaining the status quo.
Even when they have highly dysfunctional aspects, the stability of the system can take precedence over addressing issues that are detrimental to the wellbeing of each individual and their true intimate connection.
While emphasizing balance and harmony, the archetype associated with Libra tends toward avoiding confronting issues that need to be addressed. This can come at the cost of allowing patterns that do not serve the whole to entrench.
When there are dynamics in our family systems that trouble, irritate or upset us, one of the most potent things we can do does not actually involve confronting others. And, in fact, it focuses our attention where we have the most influence. This is, to zoom out and consider our role.
Engaging ourselves is indeed an empowering step in waking up to where our power lies. With self-awareness, we are best able to advocate for a shift in the dynamics that sustain unhealthy and unsatisfying patterns.
The real catch is to keep our attention focused on how our attitudes, thoughts, patterns of communication and behavior contribute to family dynamics.
This really is a huge shift for most of us, because we are so deeply invested in how others words, choices and behavior affect us. We want others to take responsibility for their part.
There is nothing wrong with wanting this; sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn’t.
Still, one Truth (note the capital “T” here; I do not use those lightly) that I am continually (sometimes reluctantly) working more fully into the way I engage in life is this:
The only person we can control is the one that looks back at us in the mirror.
I have found that the chances of getting to a place of mutual ownership of the “stuff” weighing down our family structure increases when we own up to our contributions and clean up our side of the street.
In this waning Half Moon in Cancer, which is the sign associated with the home and family, take cue from the cosmos. Zoom out and take stock.
In preparation for the time of release approaching with the Dark of the Moon, set aside an hour for honest reflection.
Prepare for this exercise by setting the space. Choose a place to sit (outside in nature is the BEST!) and take a few deep breaths to attune to the environment and setting into full presence.
Be in the process, read through this again slowly, and consider the intention behind the exercise.
Consider one aspect of your family dynamic that troubles, upsets, or challenges you.
Take a situation that exemplifies this dynamic, but one that you are not super charged or too emotionally triggered by, so that you can be as objective as possible. Imagine that you are watching the situation play out on a movie screen. See all of the characters, including yourself, in action.
What are the feelings that each person is communicating with their words, body language and behavior?
What are the central needs that each person is trying to meet with their behavior?
How self aware does each person appear to be of their own feelings and needs?
What are the strategies they are using to try and meet their needs?
Do you see patterns?
Now focusing on yourself, free write about your contribution to the dynamic:
What are you feeling?
What need is the feeling connected to?
What strategy are you using to meet your need?
Are you confrontational?
Are you defensive?
Are you afraid or reluctant to share how you feel or what you need? If so, why?
Does the role you are playing feel empowered or disempowered?
Where can you see an opportunity for connection based on a deeper understanding of the feelings and needs you can identify?
Where might you shift the way you are interpreting the behavior of others to empathize more fully with what they are feeling and they need they are trying to meet?
What is one action you could take (this might mean doing less) to shift the dynamic?
Take some time to just stretch, breathe, and relax after completing this exercise. Honor your commitment to yourself and your relationships, acknowledging any insight or increase in self-awareness. Be hopeful knowing the potential behavior has to shift the family dynamics as well as the fact it takes time.
Be mindful that any shifts you make in your approach based on this or any exercise will unfold in time and commit to being patient with yourself.
Do something that brings you pleasure and joy to express gratitude to yourself for taking time to live mindfully and tend to your relationships with care.