As we’re all smack in the middle of the holiday season, and those of us that are lucky enough to have families to spend time with, will. And while we’ve all read the articles talking about how to deal with your racist grandma or sexist uncle (pro-tip, cut them off), we usually have to put up with some unsavory behavior from our relatives. We aren’t confined to our programming, though.
The primary definition for family is “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household”. The second definition is “all the descendants of a common ancestor”. And even as a younger person, I never felt that these were suitable definitions, although I didn’t have a better alternative at the time.
We’ve all had those relatives that we can’t stand or we fundamentally disagree with about basic things that make sense to us. Blood relation shouldn’t automatically mean that we are a family. Why should we be forced into making nice a few times a year with people we can’t stand? In a developing age of self-care, spending time in negative situations is near the top of the list of things you should NOT be doing.
I have to acknowledge that I am fairly lucky in that the family I spend time with at the holidays usually keeps the drama to a minimum. We have had our share, a few members either fading out or coming back into the fold, but for the most part, our holidays are spent catching up on everyone’s lives. But not everyone has this luxury.
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So how should we be defining family? To me, it’s a group of people with a shared energy connection. You can have friends, coworkers, relatives, or anyone you’ve ever met be considered family. You know that feeling of connection you get occasionally when you meet someone new? That’s your energies connecting. Everything on the planet has vibrational energy, and when you encounter something or someone with a similar energy, you can feel that connection.
You’ll often see different groups such as sports teams, organizations, and businesses try to push the narrative that they are a “family”. And I won’t say that it NEVER happens, but just because a group of people is pushing toward a common goal doesn’t make them a family.
It’s hard to define physical groups as a family because we’re focused on the wrong connecting point. As it is currently constructed, a family is centered around an idea or belief. “We are a family because we all have the same bloodline. We are a family because we all want to win a championship. We are a family because we all eat a plant-based diet.” This is how we end up with people in our familial circle that we don’t feel connected with.
Instead, we should be centering the idea of a family around ourselves. My family is very different from my brother’s family, who is very different from our friend’s family. Some members of our families may overlap, but each person’s family is unique to that person because we are all individuals with different beliefs, ideas, and motivating factors.
At first, this seems harsh toward people we currently view as family. But as we start to hone in on what clicks with us, what sparks us and makes us feel at home within ourselves, we start to realize that there are only certain people that fit that description. There’s nothing wrong with coming to this conclusion, but we’ve been conditioned to be led into the definition rather than defining it ourselves.
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Regardless of whether you are interested in pairing down the people in your life to those that you have that strong, familial connection with, being more mindful of the people you choose to spend your time with is a step in the right direction. You can only give as much as you’re willing to give, and being around people whose company you enjoy is critical to maintaining that willingness. Taking care of yourself first will always be the most important thing to giving your best self, and your family, no matter how you define, deserves the best version of you.