Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Just in time for the holidays: How to let go of destructive family patterns.

Holiday time usually includes spending time with the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of family dynamics and individual personalities. A measure of spiritual maturity and a key to personal freedom is the ability to accept others for who they are and to no longer get hooked by any of those people whom you find challenging.

The truth is that holding on to being angry with family members, feeling deprived by them, wanting them to be different from how they are, or trying to fix them are all a set up for draining your energy, dragging you down, undermining your self-worth and sidetracking you from being your best self.

Everyone reacts defensively to being judged as "less than." We are all capable of changing, but first we have to want to change and then commit to doing the required hard work.

Practice Acceptance

Acceptance is a state of being in which you are an objective observer- like a newspaper reporter. You see what is happening and do not take it personally or add any opinion. The ability to simply observe allows you to remain neutral in the presence of other people's quirks and negativity. You can simply notice that your mother/father is "at it again." The minute you take their behavior personally, react emotionally and judge them, you are hooked.

Practice Compassion

Another helpful truth to keep in your mind and heart is that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Every member of your family has their own soul, their own learning lessons, their own history, their own skills and flaws, perceptions and misperceptions of events, which they experienced and which have nothing to do with you. Knowing this, you can stop taking them personally and shift to being compassionate and kind. As the Dali Lama says, "Whenever possible be kind. It is always possible."

Make Lemonade

The metaphysical view is that what your parents (siblings and relatives) can/do give you and what they cannot/don't give you are equally important parts of the intentional software for your own evolution. Of course it is important (and easier) to appreciate and benefit from the good qualities your parents and others bring/brought to your experience.

You can make lemonade of all that you didn't get from your family of origin when you realize that what they did not have to give is what you intend to evolve and refine in yourself this life. If they were too critical, it is for you to be non-judgmental with yourself and others. If they were not affectionate enough, it is for you to add being affectionate to your repertoire. If they were not present, it is for you to show up and be present to yourself and others. You get the gist.

Create Miracles

When you lovingly let go of your part of the family pattern, seeming miracles often happen. Because you are not projecting your disapproval, they do not feel the need to attack or defend. Since you are no longer available, they let go or move on to someone else who is more available to engage in the "fight."

Find Your Soul Family

We all have biological family members with whom we may or many not have ease or soul connection. And we also have soul families who are people with whom there is an undeniable, easy, mutual deep affection and connection. Pursuing relationships with these folks will give you the kind of supportive family experience you may not have or have not had at home. And if you are already blessed with wonderful relationships in your biological family, adding soul family members extends the circle of love. PJH