You know how it is with families. We don’t get to pick them, but we are stuck with them. And oddly enough, sometimes it seems to work. Think of Birthdays, Christmas or whatever the holiday occasion is that you celebrate with the whole extended family. Somehow everyone manages to get together, sit at a table, put aside their differences, and share a delicious meal.
You have the aunt that you just adore and the awkward uncle who always says the wrong thing. Then there’s the cousin that is super mean and catty and her husband who is meek and mild. Finally that one relative that is always the most difficult and who you felt most uncomfortable with growing up is sitting right beside you. How could such a motley crew of people with different rhythms come together at one table? And everyone is having a great meal!
This is how it is when all the separate rhythms within us get to coexist with equal voice. We are acknowledging and accepting each and every one of them, even though there are some that we like and some that we don’t like.
For a lot of us, we have learned to accept the things about ourselves that we like and push down the things we don’t like. What we love about ourselves we share with others. What we dislike or are ashamed of, we hide or keep secret. We project these likes and dislikes on to others, relating favourably to people when they activate the parts of us that we like and pushing away, or rejecting them when they reflect our undesired parts.
When we reach the family holiday celebration analogy within ourselves, we are taking all our parts and rhythms and putting them together at the table. The good, the bad and the ugly are all welcome to be there and each of them gets to say their peace. They don’t have to like each other, but while they’re all in the same place they may as well enjoy some good food!
Original article Paul Newton, based on the work of Donald Epstein