June 12, 2013

Big Family Dynamics

Whenever certain themes repeat or show up several times in a row, I pay attention. In recent weeks, I have worked with several students and clients from big families.  In these cases, I am talking about people who have 5, 6, or 7 siblings.  These are not the biggest family groups I have dealt with, as I have several clients from families of 12 children.  It seems that a particular group dynamic sets in when there are 4 or more children in the family.  To understand how an individual can behave with only 2 others, check out the "Toxic Triangle" post. 

I call this big group dynamic a “hive” mentality.  People tend to reincarnate with others that they know, so the group forming the hive has undoubtedly been together many times before but in different roles.  One's past lives within the group may rotate around between grandparents, parents, spouses or children, and can also change sexes, too.  There is safety and familiarity in this set up, but many challenges come along with it, too.  We do come back together often until we learn the lessons are still unresolved. 

So with this hive, there is much in the way of caretaking, codependency, gossip and drama.  If something happens to one, the news generally spreads through the whole bunch.  Often, a consensus is needed for one to take action that may or may not involve anyone else in the family.  As you can see, things can get very messy very fast. 

We also have older siblings taking care of the younger ones simply because it is impossible for Mom to do everything, especially if she works outside of the home.  There is also a subtle yet constant pressure to conform to the group patterning, whether it is healthy or not.  A recent client from a larger family has been putting in a lot of effort in the last several years to eat right, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. She has been criticized often by her siblings for being too thin.  Talk about sabotage!!! 

Up until lately, I have only seen the group dynamic that I have just described.  Clients and students from these situations generally bring up issues related to being their own person and being able to individuate from the family hive mentality.  Not only are there the subtle pressures to conform but also the many past lives together that reinforce connections, no matter how functional or distorted.  I have also encountered a literal hive structure that aspects of these clients are stuck in.  Entanglement rules here.  For a bee to be without its hive, it means certain death, yet one has to take that chance. Working one's way out of the hive can take much effort and dedication, and yet it is a necessity for a person who would like to progress energetically.

If someone from a big family is to make real progress in all areas of life, especially spiritually, they must individuate from the group that they were born into. For the person I have just referred to, it has been an ongoing evolution that still continues. 

Another dynamic showed up recently.  How do some create their individuality while maintaining a presence within the sibling group?  By being pushy, demanding and defending of their viewpoint, even when that viewpoint may make no sense.  So instead of “go along to get along” within the family, we can have frequent dramatic episodes of “my way or the highway”.  Keep in mind that neither stance is functional, as they are opposite ends of the polarity of the issue of how to be an autonomous individual and hold your own authenticity within a group of any size.

If the individual from the big family does not recognize and work with these patterns, the patterns will effect interpersonal and group interactions that they take part in outside of the family dynamic.  This may happen at work, amongst a group of friends, at social gatherings, or with the in-laws at holiday time.  According to their experience within the big family, they will either tend to cave in or push until they get their way.  Neither way works.  There may come a time when we all will be closer to our neighbors out of necessity, creating more community.  How nice it would be to see people interacting with each other as autonomous independent individuals supporting the greater good of the whole! 

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