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Soulmates Aren’t Always Lovers

Soulmates Aren’t Always Lovers

We meet people for a moment, a season, or even for a lifetime. Whether they were put in front of you to love you, to hurt you, or to even teach you, it is always for a reason. It’s funny how the universe works. If you think back to the people you have met in the past, were there certain people that came when you needed them? Even if they did hurt you, did they not teach you something valuable?

Everyone I have met, those that came and went, or those that are still in my life, have brought something real to me. They gave me friendship, love, respect, lessons, or even just showing me a new way of thinking.

I am going to talk about two particular people in my life that came when I needed them the most, even if at the time I didn’t know it. If they happen to read this, I know they will know I am speaking of them.

I believe these two people were godsent. I truly believe that they were my soulmates, just not in a romantic way. I feel the universe brought us together and we crossed paths because we had something we needed to learn from each other. These two people are still in my life and we keep in touch occasionally. I haven’t seen either of them for a while as they are both on the other side of the world, but they both hold a special place in my heart.

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My first soulmate was a guy. Initially, he thought I was a snob. Meanwhile, I thought he was just some cute guy that knew he was good-looking and wanted to charm everyone. He told me later that he had tried to get to know me and tried to initiate conversations but I just didn’t give much back. After all, he was from the other side of the world. As I saw it, he wasn’t going to be around for long and was just passing through, so why bother? I know, it was a terrible mindset. Back then, I was extremely guarded. Little did he (or I know) that he would be the very reason I would learn to open myself up to others and the world.

We eventually became friends and the more I got to know him, the more I saw what a beautiful soul he had. He would tell me stories of all his travels. Every time he told them, he had a sparkle in his eyes. He was so caring, friendly, polite, and open to every one that it fascinated me as I was really only nice to people I knew and warmed up to.

He taught me that people weren’t all out to get me. He also taught me that not all men were a**holes just trying to sleep with me. We became best friends in the year before he left Australia. We were always together, our friends would always invite both of us to every event or gathering. We would run by the water, go tanning, and hit the gym. We would also talk for hours about life, our pasts, our hopes and dreams. We even went on a few adventures together. We never did sleep together, even though a lot of our mutual friends thought we had, or thought something would happen. I think this was mainly because we were opposite sexes. We had something else. It was something I still can’t explain.

I cared for him very much. In a way, I fell in love with him, and not in a “I want you to be my boyfriend” kind of way. I fell in love with his soul. I fell in love with the way he saw the world. I fell in love with how genuine he was towards others. I also fell in love with the way he made me feel like I could do anything. He inspired me. To this day, I will still say that he was brought into my life to open my eyes and teach me that the world really is my oyster. There is so much more out there than the rat race we live in. He was the very reason I grew the confidence to leave the rut I was in and go explore.

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He never told me to do anything. He never told me what I should or shouldn’t do. Somehow, without actually saying, he made me realize that I was better than the four year relationship I felt stuck in. The last year of those four, it became one of those on again/off again relationships that become quite draining and tiring. My friend taught me that sometimes relationships run its course and the best thing you can do is to let go, so you have room to let in a better future.

He also taught me that you didn’t need to be rich to go explore. He taught me that if you wanted something, just do it. If you are doing something that feeds your soul, somehow the universe helps you along the way. I definitely saw this was true when I decided to book my one-way ticket to Thailand and then didn’t return home for a few years. There were times I was broke, there were some times I wanted to cry, and there were times I felt so alone. There are always highs and lows; however, when you are travelling, the highs definitely outweigh the lows and make it all worth it. I am forever grateful to have met him and I really don’t think he knows just how much of an impact he made on my life.

Let’s move on to my second soulmate, who just happens to be a female. Again, it was nothing romantic, but it was like I knew her forever. We just got each other. It was kind of weird because we both came from small towns next to each other. We knew all the same people growing up but we never really met. It was like we were living lives completely aligned with each other but never crossed paths until the moment that we both really needed each other. We laugh about it now, saying we were both lost teenagers and if we had met back then, we would’ve been bad influences on each other.

We met when she returned from traveling overseas. I had already settled back in Australia at this point and I was with my ex boyfriend when I met her. He was supposed to be with us for the group outing. I think it was meant to be that he didn’t come because I probably wouldn’t have chatted up a storm with her otherwise. Unfortunately, my ex didn’t quite like it if I spoke to other people too much.

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When we met, we spoke of travels and we spoke of life. Actually, we spoke of nearly everything. We just clicked. I didn’t see her again until I broke up with my ex. She also broke up with her ex a couple of weeks before me. When we met again, we hit it off and found that we shared the same perspective on a lot of topics. Even when we didn’t, we both communicated in a way that we could understand each other’s perspective. We could even communicate without saying anything to each other. It was crazy. It was like we had known each other for a lifetime.

We spent a lot of time together, even at family outings, where I would be her other half and vice versa. I told her things about me that no one else knew. She told me about her life. We would spend weekends watching documentaries, TV series, and movies. We’d also explore cafes, restaurants, libraries, and nature. Sometimes we would stay up all night talking or go get drunk together.

We both started learning more about meditation and spirituality. We kept each other grounded. She was the very first person I literally bared my soul to. She was exactly what I needed after my break up and I was what she needed after hers. We helped each other get through difficult times.

I also fell in love with her, not romantically, but in a similar way to my other soulmate. I fell in love with her soul. I loved how she composed herself so well yet had a mind filled with so many convictions and ideas. She was worldly, she was funny, she was smart, and she had class. I admired her. She was that girl that had guys crawling on their knees, but she never batted an eyelash. She wasn’t about that. She was much deeper than that, and that is one of the many reasons I loved her.

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It was so easy to talk to her. There was one night I told her something about me that caused me a lot of pain. After I finished, she cried. I could see that she felt my pain. We cared for each other immensely. She helped me realize that after everything I had been through, I actually turned out pretty darn good. In fact, she made me see that I was a beautiful human being, and that I should be proud of how far I had come. She also made me realize just how strong I am. Despite all I experienced, I still had an open heart and had an energy about me that drew people to me.

She told me she admired how I exude confidence. She liked that I was just so raw and said things how they were. I felt she taught me something so much more valuable. She taught me to value myself. I may have exuded confidence, I may have looked to the outside world that “I had it all together”, but I was never at peace with myself. That is, until I met her.

She is the only person I know that I can literally talk to for hours. She may be on the other side of the world, but when we chat, we chat. One time, I spoke to her from 9pm at night until 8am in the morning. I have not had a connection like this with any one. I have no idea what we talked about for that long, but all I know is that she is one special woman. It’s so beautiful that no matter how far away we are or if we don’t see each other, we still have such a strong bond.

So, there you have it. Two of the most significant people in my life thus far. They both have given me something so special that I will forever hold them in my heart. It is never “goodbye” with them, it’s just “see you later”. I truly hope that life brings them much joy and goodness. They both deserve nothing but the best.

I feel soulmates aren’t necessarily lovers, they come in all shapes and forms. Soulmates show up in your life to shake it up, to teach you something important, and to help you grow. The bond you share is deeper than words could ever explain.

Have you ever had a soulmate that wasn’t a lover?

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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