This month's theme is Gratitude. I've been thinking a lot about Gratitude, Love & Appreciation as a result. When we feel gratitude and appreciation, our body on a primal level begins to send out endorphins, which help us to step out of Fight or Flight. Perhaps this is one of the reasons spiritual masters from every culture spend so much time talking about love, gratitude, and forgiveness. But what happens when you have people in your life who hurt you every chance they get, even unconsciously? Today I'm answering the question, “How do you appreciate toxic, narcissistic, or deeply wounded family members?”
To be able to hold appreciation for the person in question, you must first hold boundaries for yourself. Having strong boundaries, and having a strong understanding of what is and is not allowed in your life will give you the space necessary to open to appreciation.
￼ Don’t try to change the toxic behavior of family members, and don’t expect family members to change.￼ Stop trying to take responsibility for them. You can share your boundaries in any given situation, and express what is okay (or NOT okay) in your relationship with them, but if they are unwilling to meet you in a process of healing, you have to let go of your ideas of who they should be. Allow their healing path, and the consequences of their actions to be their own. Focus instead on your own life, and your own personal rules for what you allow into your space. It’s OK to draw the line and follow up with real action. You can always walk away from a toxic conversation or request, and it's better to do that when you see that it isn't right for you, before you get angry or hurt.￼
I appreciate every toxic relationship I have ever been in, because I see those relationships as beams of light that illuminate my own wounds deep within myself. These relationships have taught me how to draw true boundaries, how to value myself, and how to create a secret space in my life for my own growth and development. ￼The moment that I began to heal the wounds exposed by those relationships, I no longer felt attached to drama, and had permission to let go of those relationships. Or in some cases, I was able to hold better boundaries so that those relationship dynamics naturally transformed.
Some people are poisonous to your experience, but it’s up to you to decide that you are allowed to be happy. The greatest challenge with toxic relationships is that it always feels about the other person, and you have to allow your focus to rest on you, and what is happening within you as a result of your interactions.
When you have a natural boundary around your own well-being, you can then appreciate "toxic" people as being good people who are deep in their own process of healing. What makes them appear to be toxic is that they are releasing so much from within, it comes out in an untenable way. Understanding that they are in a process of healing, awakens your compassion, but again that doesn't mean you have to let go of all of your boundaries. More than ever, decide what you can allow in the relationship, and then take actions so that you no longer feel as if they are pouring hot tar all over you all the time.￼￼ Having those boundaries in place, you are free to appreciate them.
Our family members are our deepest karma. Appreciate that, like a litmus test, they may help expose and reveal areas of your own being that you want to heal and transform. You can appreciate this while also setting boundaries. ￼Their role in helping you grow,￼ is a gift.￼