In this school called life, we will take various classes, which involve subjects or experiences we signed up for while still in Spirit. Before our incarnation, we choose the life we think will afford us the best opportunities and/or challenges to help us hone our skills in practicing the energy of love. For most souls, much of the curriculum is defined by the relationships they will experience on Earth. These relationships will present opportunities to learn valuable lessons that the soul wouldn't receive any other way. Therefore, relationships are the cornerstone of a soul's growth and learning. Earth is like a smorgasbord, offering a range of lessons the soul is seeking to perfect.
Fortunately for us, we never go to school alone. Not only do we always have a constant connection to our tutors and guides, we also incarnate with "soul groups." The soul group will interact on Earth as family, friends, and lovers. We've all heard the saying "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family." Well...yes and no. You've all picked each other as a well-thought-out cast of characters in a specific circumstance. Each member of this family has been through many past-life experiences together with you, developing an intricate pattern of energy that the group uses in order to learn and understand. If you're able to look at your family dynamic objectively (right now, as you're reading this), that insight can reveal the bulk of the lessons your soul has come back to learn.
The first step in building healthy, loving relationships is to learn to love yourself. —James Van Praagh
Some families get along well and have more than likely learned the karmic family lessons of valuing and respecting each other. Dysfunctional families are still learning. These lessons are not always easy to master, because the people in your life who present the greatest challenges are usually your greatest teachers.
When you get into unpleasant circumstances with a member of your inner circle, don't jump into the emotion of the issue. Instead, step back, take a few breaths, and check your inner GPS. Love, forgiveness, and compassion are always the route to take, not judgment, retribution, and spite. Something else to consider when thinking of a challenging family member is whether perhaps he or she is holding a mirror up to you. Do you share the characteristics of someone who angers you?
Because we truly are connected as one, the elements demonstrated to you by family members represent what you must learn about yourself. For instance, perhaps you must learn about forgiveness or acknowledging your worth. There is no longer time for you to avoid, blame, or place judgement. If these lessons aren't learned, families find themselves revolving in a vicious cycle of disharmony. It takes great strength and perseverance for a soul to pull the family out of this chaotic, toxic energy so that everyone can view the situation from a higher perspective, learn the lessons, and begin to heal. You must also take into account that healing may or may not just be for the benefit of the soul that is going through it, but it may also be an opportunity to heal generations in a lineage of imbalance and disharmony, resulting in tremendous advancement for the soul family.
As we all know, relationships can be the most intense and demanding of all the experiences we will go through in life, but also the most gratifying and rewarding. And since the energy of love is the ultimate vibration the soul seeks, relationships present us with the best opportunity to learn and explore it. But it's also important for us to learn how to love correctly.
Of course, the first step in building healthy, loving relationships is to learn to love yourself. You must accept yourself as a loving representation of Spirit if you're to accelerate your soul's earthly sojurn.
Everybody makes mistakes—everybody loses their temper; everybody judges—but if we make a conscious effort to be mindful every day of how we treat ourselves and others, life becomes much easier. One of my favorite Helen Keller quotes is, "The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves."
Excerpted from Adventures of the Soul: Journeys Through the Physical and Spiritual Dimensions by James Van Praagh. Copyright ©2014 by James Van Praagh. Used with permission.