It's Not You, It's Me: How Family Karma Shapes Your Relationship

Do you ever get the feeling your partner is relating more to someone from her past – say, his mom or her big brother – than to you?  Like you do something and the reaction is out of proportion or out of sync with what you did, as if some old junk is getting triggered?  The good news is, you’re probably right – it’s more about then, and less about now.  The harder to take news?

You do it too, baby.

We’re all reacting to our families every day, even when we think it’s our partner’s actions, words, and presence we’re responding to.

“But I had a nice family!” you say.

Me, too, in so very many ways.  But whomever you grew up among, I believe you came to this planet and picked a situation to help you work on some of the rough edges in your soul, so your family doesn’t have to be drama central or a source of misery to give you “karma” or fodder for development.  They just remind you of what you came here to learn.  As does your current partner, no?

The 3 ways we make sure our karma gets triggered:

  • We attract people who let us recreate these dramas
  • We elicit behavior from those we’re with that, once again, makes us feel the way we hate feeling but that’s familiar
  • We interpret/distort WHATEVER they do, even if it bears no resemblance, as being more of the same

And I’ll be damned if it isn’t reallllllllly compelling to think, when I’m upset with my partner Kurt, that this is a cut-and-dried issue of his, or between us… but surely NOT a dance elegantly orchestrated by my karma so as to help me wake up!  So if you find this karma junk really off-pissing, please know that I feel ya, and agree, and lovingly reiterate: it’s yours.  And it’ll persist till you open its gifts.

Do you really want it gone?

Over time, we can increase our awareness of how this “family karma” shapes our view of our partner, but we’re probably not going to get rid of it 100%.  It’s too rich a territory to utterly eradicate.  What would be the fun in that?  Eric Klein of says “the aim is to be in relationship 80% with your partner and only 20% with your past.”  I can hang with 80%, can’t you? We came to this life to heal this stuff, work it out, and release it so we don’t have to spend future lifetimes lamenting it, but staying with the process feels more important (and possible!) to me than getting it “perfect.”

Eric Klein is one of my revered spiritual teachers and is also – lucky me! – a dear friend and a colleague in the Brain Trust that supports me and my businesses. Eric’s class Healing Family Karma was instrumental helping me experience patterns from my family as positive parts of my spiritual evolution (rather than vexing recurrent bulls*#! I just wanted to get rid of asap!). 

Love love,