How To Be Spiritual When Your Family Isn’t

What do you do after a spiritual awakening if your family isn’t spiritual? What if people don’t understand your spiritual journey? Even worse, what if your family actively opposes, mocks, or belittles your spirituality?

Dealing with oppositional family members, friends, and acquaintances when you embark on a spiritual journey is no easy task. It can bring up all sorts of feelings: shame, guilt, inadequacy, self-doubt, anger, resentment, and confusion.

Of course, this situation is exacerbated if you’re dealing with a very close family member — say, a husband, wife, parent, or sibling — who is opposed to your spirituality or tries to make you feel ashamed about it.

Here are some examples of the comments you might hear from relatives or friends who don’t understand your spirituality or, in more general terms, don’t understand what a “spiritual journey” actually is:

  • I don’t know why you’re so different now.
  • You think you’re better than everyone else.
  • The real world doesn’t work that way.
  • You need to come back to reality.
  • You sound like you’re in a cult.
  • So what’s the point of doing [yoga, meditation, any other spiritual practice]?
  • You sound crazy.
  • You’re not the person I used to know. / I don’t know who you are.
  • When are you going to come out of this? / This is a temporary trend/fad.
  • Why are you spending money/time on this stuff?
  • You’re getting brainwashed.

Of course, hearing negative comments like these triggers all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings in you. You want to defend yourself. You want to protect yourself. You want to make them see how this is the right path for you. You might even want to make them see how it might be the right path for them, too.

And it might be the case that some of these people are open to your explanations about why and how this path is helping you. How it’s transforming your life. How you feel more alive and at peace than ever.

But other people will not want to hear any of that. They just won’t get it, or they’ll be extremely resistant. So what do you do then? Here are some suggestions on how to cope!

1. Everyone is doing the best they can from their level of consciousness.

First of all, you must remember that everyone — yes, even that annoying or frustrating relative! — is doing the best they can from where they are. We’re all at different levels of consciousness. If you’ve experienced a spiritual awakening and “seen beyond the veil,” you’re definitely at a different level of consciousness than someone who only believes in material reality.

This doesn’t mean some people are better than others. It just means that we’re all at different evolutionary stages. We all move towards greater consciousness at different rates. Trying to rush or force someone to understand something beyond their level of evolution is pointless, and can even be harmful for their own development.

The best you can do is try to have compassion for anyone who doesn’t understand your journey. Trust that they’re living out their own evolutionary path. This means it’s best for you not to interfere with their own evolution, just as it’s important for you not to allow them to interfere with yours.

Another crucial fact to keep in mind: when you start making positive changes in your life, some people will react negatively. This is because you’re showing them how they haven’t healed or changed themselves yet. This will make them feel defensive and trigger all sorts of feelings in them, including resistance to anything you have to say.

2. Work through your triggers.

You must also remember that anything that’s triggered within you is your own responsibility. Yes, sometimes other people say or do things that activate uncomfortable emotions/thoughts in you. But how you deal with those emotions and thoughts is your own responsibility — not the responsibility of the other person.

In fact, you must thank anyone on your path who triggers negative feelings in you, because they’re showing you the areas that still need work or healing.

Perhaps your feelings of shame or inadequacy are triggered when you a relative tries to mock your spiritual practices or uses a belittling tone with you. Instead of hating them and projecting your feelings onto them (such as by making them out to be inadequate or shameful), try to explore how you can heal these feelings within yourself.

For instance, where are your shame and inadequacy really coming from? How can you release them so that you’ll be less triggered in this way in the future?

3. Create boundaries.

Although you must thank everyone who triggers you for showing you the rough spots in you that need to be healed and smoothed, there eventually comes a time where you must create healthy, strong boundaries with specific people.

You don’t have to be a victim or put up with anyone’s verbal abuse or belittling comments. At the end of the day, you get to choose who you will allow into your life, how long you’ll spend time with them, and what parameters you need to set in your relationships.

You’re not obligated to spend time with anyone — whether they’re related to you or not.

4. Release toxic people & relationships.

Aligned with #3 above, there comes a point where you must release toxic people and relationships. This can be especially hard when these people are your own family members! Our culture often tells us that family comes first, that blood is thicker than water, that families stick together no matter what. These are just limiting beliefs. You can choose to have different ideas about what “family” means and how a family is supposed to work.

Toxic people are everywhere — at work, at school, on vacation, and in our families. Don’t feel shame or guilt if you choose to go no-contact or to avoid a specific relative, as long as you’re doing this intentionally to protect your sanity and well-being (and not doing it out of spite, resentment, or to “punish” them).

You’re free to create a soul family with people who support, uplift, and encourage you to pursue your spiritual calling and to heal yourself. If necessary, work through any guilt that comes up when you consider releasing toxic family members from your life. That guilt is just a sign that you’ve been socially conditioned in some way to put your biological family ahead of yourself.

5. Strategic sharing.

If you choose to continue spending time with family members who don’t really get your spirituality, or who are inclined to mock it or put it down, make sure you adopt the skill of strategic sharing.

This means determining the “safe” topics and subjects you’ll discuss and share with this person ahead of time. Maybe all you can talk about with them is the weather, a recent vacation, or how the kids are doing. Try to keep your interactions with this person as peaceful and stress-free as possible.

If you know that certain topics make them react by shaming you or putting you down, make sure you steer clear of those subjects. Another good strategy is to keep the conversation focused on them — after all, people love talking about themselves!

 

By adopting these suggestions, you’ll be able to better deal with family members and friends who don’t share or understand your spirituality.

Ultimately, remember that you have the freedom and the right to do what is best for you and to pursue the path that feels most aligned with your soul. Don’t allow anyone to get in the way of that. You must fiercely protect your free will and your ability to continue evolving spiritually.


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