How can I have a loving family without falling into bad patterns? — Well, here are some of my thoughts.

Think about your childhood family environment — not just your parents, but your siblings, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your grandparents, friends of the family. You had a totally different “Saturn” growing up, with different people and different power dynamics orbiting your family. As a child you learned what love means, what it feels like to give and receive; you had some positive experiences, and some negative experiences. The brain started to form patterns very young — certain sights, smells, or tastes can bring you right back to your grandma’s kitchen or your childhood home.

And trauma doesn’t have to come from parents. A sibling, a teacher, an illness, infertility, an ex-spouse: you may have experienced trauma in many situations. I’ll discuss how persistent negative emotions affect the brain, and how your unconscious mind might organize your life around those emotions as it comes to expect them. I’ll also ask an important question: how do you heal from this?

First, remember that you are not broken. You don’t need to do anything to deserve love. As you internalize your inherent self-worth, you will have fewer expectations for other people to make you feel whole. You will not seek validation from other people (including spouse and children) who are NOT tasked with validating you and couldn’t do it even if they were supposed to — that validation must come from inside your own heart, and nothing anybody else says or does will be an adequate substitute.

The best part of being an adult is that you get to draw up the blueprint for your family dynamic. YOU have control now, and you can retain the good parts of your childhood while not practicing the harmful parts.

As you make it your prerogative to consistently practice techniques of mind management, exercise self-love, give yourself grace and compassion, and heal your old wounds without using other people as proxies for your childhood relationship dynamics, I promise on a stack of Bibles, you will feel better about yourself and you and your family will enjoy each other’s company. It is a joyous way to live.

Remember: you’ve got this!

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