photo: Nadia Hatoum on flickr

photo: Nadia Hatoum on flickr

Dear Meli,

I am writing to you about my sister. She has been having a hard time for years now, but lately it’s gotten worse. Her husband left her a year ago, one of her children is battling alcoholism, and she recently got laid off from work. The worst part of all of this is that she’s not open to help. She hates God and other people. She thinks that the world is out to get her and she’s totally unwilling to see it any differently. I’m not sure how to help her. I love her and I want her life to be better. Any ideas?

Sad for My Sib


Dear Sad Sib,

Family dynamics and differences can be one of life’s most awesome gifts to those of us walking the spiritual path! I believe it was Ram Das who suggested that if you think you’re fully enlightened, visit your family of origin for a couple of weeks. Then see how you’re doing!

My first tip is:

1) There really is no such thing as someone who is not on a spiritual path. There are plenty of people who don’t think they are. But we are all made of the same stuff, and we’re all here growing our way through life.

It may help to remember that this is your sister’s spiritual path, the way she is being invited to grow. And she’s the one who needs to walk her path.

2) If your sister hasn’t asked you for support, it would not probably be well received. A very wise friend of mine says “Unsolicited feedback is a form of abuse.”

Strong statement, I know. But most of us have been on both sides of experiences that validate this saying.

This is a question I’ve always found helpful when considering a communication: What is my motive?

I have found that if my motive is to change someone else, I can be sure they’ll feel it. It will backfire. They’ll be able to sense my judgment no matter how much kindness I use to deliver the communication.

But when I can truly love them just as they are, I can sometimes speak the truth (after asking permission or being invited to do so) in a way that can be heard.

3) Consider how you’ll feel when they’re gone. It may sound morbid, but I have found it transformational.

Once, in the midst of a very difficult family dynamic, I considered how I would feel if the person were to suddenly be gone. It was easy to see what I would miss about them!

It was powerful for me to be able to truly appreciate them, even in the midst of a challenging communication.

4) What else can you do to help yourself feel better? It might be that you need to spend less time with them. If you find that you don’t feel good when you interact with them, less time together may be just what your own spirit is calling for.

And as always, go with what your inner guidance is telling you!

In case you’re wondering if it’s possible to spend less time with a family member while remaining kind, the answer is Yes! If you are forced to explain, even that can be done with immense care and compassion. (Again, check your motives and align with your true intention.)

Finally, and most importantly:

5) I believe the highest thing we can do for our loved ones is to imagine them happy. See them joyful! Send them your love and compassion, and send them Spirit’s love (however you do this). It will do wonders for you and bless them at the same time! Awesome, right?

May your heart be full, and your family feel it.

Blessings and Love in all you do,


Have a family member who drives you crazy? Share your comments below!

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