One of the stickiest family issues can be the one around acceptable work. For centuries, the family work was the expected work that you would do. You were born into it, and it’s what you would do. In many parts of the world, the caste system not only enforces this methodology, but it’s institutionalized it at a societal level. In general, to have choice around the type of work that you get to do is a huge jump forward. For women in the West, this continues to be an expanding area. Certain areas of work weren’t open to women, but more and more, they are.

That’s just a peek up at the societal level at some of the macro movements, but as we refocus back down to this bottom level issue–the intertwining of family, expectations, and work to provide for your means of survival–it’s important to realize that this work is no less if not more pivotal for the bigger changes to manifest around the world.

But It’s What We Do in My Family

Because the imprint from family is so strong, you will almost naturally fall into the work that your family has done. This creates long lineages of soldiers, teachers, nurses, carpenters, lawyers, doctors, etc. Sometimes you can be a carpenter when your father was a mason. The imprint being acted out is one around physical labor and construction. That’s what’s valued in your family structure, and it’s also what is understood. Although there are some family situations where masonry is the family business, so a deviation just into carpentry becomes a major issue for the family energy to confront.

If It’s Not in Your Soul Plan, You Shouldn’t Be Doing It

Healing this kind of bottom level issue can be difficult, and this is where knowing what’s in your soul to do in this lifetime is critical. Aligning to your soul’s purpose brings in an added creative element and energetic impulse that helps you find the ability to re-write this old imprint and formulate a new way of taking care of yourself. This is much, much more than a career change. This is changing how you think about handling your survival.

Of course, you’re saying, “Well, how do I know what my soul plan is?” This is a key question for lots of people, but if you’re really working on this bottom issue, then you probably already have tackled some of the associated issues such as what you want to do for a living and what are you really passionate about doing. Because where your heart is is often where your soul is, and it will make it that much easier to make these big changes and clear old family karma about what you’re supposed to do.

Openings Appear When You Align with Your Soul

Sometimes things just snap into place when you open up to the possibility that you no longer want to be a plumber (body-based), and you want to be an astrophysicist (mind-based). I know this sounds like a huge jump, but it really depends on your natural alignment. Because when you’re out of alignment, what you’re doing may be so, so very hard. You keep trying, and your family keeps telling you that that’s how it was for them. Just keep going and it’ll get easier. But it doesn’t. It’s not what’s true for you, so you have to find the courage to take a chance. Stop doing what you know and what is expected. Start searching for what’s really important to you at your core.

When you do this, it’s just amazing how much easier things start to get. You feel like you’re no longer banging your head against a wall. Doing stuff that isn’t true to us is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Ultimately, it doesn’t serve the family. You have to learn to have compassion for them because most families are simply operating according to their family programming and family karma. They’ve never really thought about why they do what they do. They’re just doing what’s expected because they think it’s safe even when that’s completely wrong and just keeps them in cycles of pain and suffering.

Facing Dysfunctional Family Imprints: Breaking Out of Pain Cycles

So far, I’ve been discussing fairly benign situations, but many people are trying to break out of family cycles of more intense pain. In this instance, your family imprint has taught you to steal, prostitute yourself, lie, cheat, sell illegal products, and many other things. This is simply what you’ve learned to do. It will invariably be compounded by a series of mental delusions such as “This is the only way I can make money.” “This is what I have to do to survive.” “I’m not good enough or smart enough to do something else.” “I don’t deserve anything better.” It’s pretty murky down in this energy.

The start of healing will often be imagination and education to allow you to discover other ways of being and thinking, but a clear cut out of that situation may be difficult to generate initially. Taking some transitional jobs while you get clear of the bad situation will help you to find your way out. It won’t be easily necessarily, and you’ll need to find your courage. But when you start down this path and learn to ask for help, that help can start to appear so that you can break this cycle and free yourself. Along the way, you are actually showing other members of your family how they can do the same. So don’t worry about abandoning them. In reclaiming yourself and your path, you are showing others how they can, and if you do have to go back into a toxic situation–at least for a brief amount of time–you can go in with the fullness of your power.

Your Purpose Lights the Way

This is some of the hardest work that many of us do because we’re rewriting some extremely core assumptions about how to survive in the physical world. On top of that, there are usually fifteen other issues tied into the old way of surviving and the imprint on how to perpetuate that old process. Family, relationships, and ways of living all have to shift to all you rewrite this part of your life. But as you trust your inner knowing and trust your sense of purpose in this life, the doors open, the opportunities appear, and you get to be who you really are. It’s kind of exciting, actually.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. This article is so timely in my life right now. The pain of pushing thru others expectations and digging down to get to where you are in alignment with your own passions can be such a critical journey. I dont want to label the journey as pain or pleasure, but as necessary to where Ive needed to end up.

  2. Thank you for sharing, startwhereustand. It's a journey that requires a lot of courage and tenacity to break free, but if you don't do it, who will?

  3. I quit nursing school 2 months before I was to graduate. Just couldn't take it anymore… My mom was a nurse, my grandma… My entire family turned their back on me when I walked away from what they were convinced I was born to do…. 4 years have passed. The family has forgiven me and they couldn't be more proud. I've even had certain members tell me that they wish they'd had that courage when they were my age.

    It can be very scary at first but we all know things have a way of working themselves out. Especially when you begin to align to your souls purpose. 🙂

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