In my last blog, I wrote about the most important component of happiness and satisfaction was the connections a person has with others. I have heard numerous stories of family members, who for one reason or another, have become estranged. When working with family enterprises who have conflict, we often hear of a cut-off from one relative or another. It might be children not speaking to a parent, siblings who haven’t had contact in years, cousins who have limited knowledge and communication with each other because of the difficulties of their parents or grandparents generation. Whatever the case, the physical and emotional cut-off in the family invariably affects the business.
One story quite close to me involves two sisters who were very close. Sometime in their late 50s/40s (respectively) they had a falling out. Eventually, they stopped getting together with their families, and the space and silence developed into very strong negative feelings that echoed through the rest of the family system.
As time passed and they reached into their late 80s/70s, the elder sister started to develop dementia. The younger sister heard bits and pieces about the health of the elder and decided enough time had passed and it was time to visit. Their time together was short, but they chatted and smiled at each other’s stories. When the younger sister asked if it was okay if she could come back again to visit, a tear slid out of the elder’s eye, and she nodded yes and grabbed the younger’s hand.
My aunt died this past week, and my mother is very sad, yet so grateful that the connection was reestablished. There was a deep love there that had been hidden and uncovered. Connections with family matters.
Cut-offs happen in families: physically and emotionally. Many times as individuals we are completely justified in why we no longer speak. An event, or a series of events happen that leave us deeply hurt and affect our lives. We stop the connection with the other to protect ourselves. Often, though, when we look back at our family tree, we see a pattern of cut-offs that really had nothing and yet everything to do with our own cut-offs. We tend to inherit cut-offs as a way to cope with the difficulties of relationships.
Unfortunately, those cut-offs affect our satisfaction in life. We may accept them as necessary, but in reality, they leave a hole. Time has a way of softening the edges and healing the wounds that led to cut-offs. Sometimes, family members can’t even recall what led to the cut-off, it always was like this.
Look back at the relationships within your family and examine any cut-offs. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I cut-off with anyone in my family?
- Why am I cut-off from them?
- Is the event that happened still fresh in my mind or has time helped to heal the wound?
- Have my parents or grandparents ever experienced cut-off? Did I inherit cut-offs or am I going to pass them down?
Take the time today to examine a connection with a family member that may have suffered a break-down. If you can re-establish the connection in a healthy way, you will have added to the happiness in your life and to those in the next generation.