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Building the Good Enough Family


Family. Ah, how sweet it is and how sour it can feel sometimes. Some of us read that word and it evokes love, joy, and connection. Some of us may read that word and cringe at the craziness we were born into and our life’s journey may have become a long road to understanding how and why we were born into this thing called “my family”.   And, still some of us may be somewhere in the middle where we feel some love and connection, but it’s also wrapped in such craziness that we spend most of our life running away from IT, that energy dynamic we call family.

We are born into this world, generally speaking, by two people coming together in union and creating life, and thus the family dynamic is born. Sometimes this dynamic happens on purpose and sometimes this dynamic happens by accident. Whether your family was created by the ultimate planning or the ultimate un-planning, these categorical labels that induce action or no action don’t necessarily tell us that one will bring more love and connection than the other.

But what is true as you are reading this is that we all find ourselves in some kind of family dynamic with a mixed bag of emotions, generations of psychological “stuff” that gets recycled into the newest family dynamic, hit by the train of modern culture. So, we are all kind of like mutts in a new-age pop mosh pit occasionally coming up for a breather and maybe a smile or two if the groove hits us just right.  In that mind-set, many of us go searching or more aptly described as running away from that crazy monster in our life called family.

In this running away, we may find ourselves acting out in ways that are way out of alignment with our spirits or if you prefer, our essence (just think about that part of you that can be the best you). We all have a fundamental desire to be loved unconditionally and to feel connected unabashedly. It’s in our biology and neurophysiology. There’s no way out of this connect the love dots train. We all have the ticket and we might as well learn how to take the ride and that ride is called – Building the Good Enough Family.

Though we have the ticket to this love train, some of us get stuck on the sidelines and miss the call of “All board!” We may go through our life running away from that family monster thing and act out our desires (remember love and connection here) in numerous ways, but mainly many of us will act out our desires in some form of addiction that substitutes and suppresses the fundamental desire of authentic love and human connection. In this process, our addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, social media, exercise, busyness, etc.) becomes our fill-in monster family.

It’s a bit of a destructive cycle. We can become pretty attached to our fill-in monster family and we can run pretty far from our actual monster family, we may experience something similar to volcanic friction. When we tack holidays on it and all the culture conditioning that goes with something called “holidays”, it’s like applying a tiny band aid to a massive open wound – it’s not going to hold and all the stuff we keep running away from will eventually explode. We are all a bit like ticking time bombs when it comes to our family stuff, and the more we connect to our fill-in monster family and run away from our actual monster family the more likely we are to erupt like Pinatubo’s cataclysmic eruption that dropped global temperatures by one degree.

It’s a bit scary to break down this cycle of violent mess. The very thing that comforts us is killing us (our fill-in monster family in the form of pick-your-addiction-friction). But with all the research in psychology, biology, and neuroscience and the tools that mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and contemplative practices provide to us for a constructive and transformational path forward, we have the possibility now more than ever to break this cycle and finally step up to the loading dock when the conductor calls “All aboard!” and ride this connect the love dots train and break down this idea of the monster family and start building the good enough family.

We aren’t perfect and we never will be because that’s part of being human. We are imperfectly perfect beings, as I like to say. But what we can do is become good enough at many different things. Building the good enough family is key to bringing true peaceful change to our world communities. As Mother Teresa said, “Love…and breakdown of peace in the world begins at home.” Let’s keep fighting the good fight of equal rights, environmental protections, and world hunger, but let us not forget that while we are fighting those important and heroic fights and feats for a greater humanity and better world to grow in, that without building the good enough family our other causes are likely to grow futile instead of bringing long-term sustainable change.

Building the good enough family starts with us, just as we are in this very moment. Sure the monster family we’ve been running away from or covering up with our addictions of friction may have some stuff that contributed to our crazy emotional and mental stuff, but their stuff isn’t ours to fix. The only stuff to truly fix is our own and we do it with a little conscious awareness and faith. Yes, Faith.

Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist, all of those religious or non-religious categories walk through life with something called faith – that is, if you are on the path to improving pain and suffering in our world. I think most of us are regardless of our occupation. It’s a deep trust in something beyond ourselves. We could attribute that trust to God or if we are on the other side of the spectrum, maybe we attribute that trust to a cause, an ideal, or a theory.

In order to build the good enough family, we must have faith and a healthy sense of optimism and commitment to love ourselves enough that we turn our ticket in and board the connect the dots in love train. It’s on this adventure that we discover we are worth loving ourselves enough that we break the cycle of the fill-in monster family and start building the good enough family within. When we re-connect to that place inside, that voice of spirit or that voice of intuition, we find an exquisite stillness, compassion, and deep love for humanity that will carry us forward in loving our given family regardless of the crazy stuff that comes up.

And, the great part of building a good enough family, is that while we make amends with ourselves first, then with our given family, which sometimes means we accept things as they are in the muddiest and messiest of places, with love of course, we also have the possibility to build the good enough family with those we choose to add to the mix of the given and make an eclectic tribe of those of us that walk in beauty, not solo, but together.

When we build the good enough family, we build the good enough community and the good enough world. Building the good enough family reminds us that most things in life are always better together.

Om Shanti Om ~ Athea



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