Doing the Right Thing


Doing the right thing isn’t always easy or obvious, but it is always worth a try. Today, I’m faced with a personal challenge that weighs heavy on my heart and takes up real estate in my mind.

It’s my brother’s birthday today, and in my family, we have a long-standing tradition of calling one another and singing happy birthday.

In the last few years, this day has come with pain, discomfort, and complications. I’ll make a long story with a lot of factors very short. A few years back, I created trauma in my family dynamic by leaving a family business after many years of dissatisfaction and frustration. I let my unhappiness mount into resentment, and by the time I left, it was a difficult situation.

There are so many things to unpack here; but for this article, we’ll stick to the awkward pain of being estranged from family on a birthday. As we all know, family dynamics are tricky and can get weird and messy. As with anything, we all have our point of view. Here’s what’s been playing in my head:

  • He probably doesn’t want to hear from me, and he hates me.
  • I’m the one who should be mad, not him!
  • Calling him makes me feel physically ill. He has so much anger, and I’m afraid of it.
  • What’s my purpose for calling? What do I want to accomplish?
  • Not calling feels intentional, like I’m making a statement.

To get peace in this situation, I had to go with what I knew to be true for me. Being kind is more important than being right. Humility and gratitude feel better in my body than upset and anger. My brother has always presented a challenge for me. He rubs me the wrong way, and we’ve never communicated well together.

I believe he’s one of my master teachers in life. I’m still learning from him. I am grateful I have an opportunity to grow and learn from him. In the end, I decided to text him. That’s what felt right in my heart at this time.

All of this over a birthday text may seem silly and overblown. But, it was real for me and was causing pain in my body. I was tethered to the situation, unwittingly spinning around in circles. When faced with a deadline and uncertainty, the lesson is to go back to what you know is true for you. Sit in meditation and ask yourself what feels right in this situation. What am I meant to learn? What is the highest option for all involved? If it’s still unclear, get some perspective from a trusted friend or therapist.

Sometimes, “small” things can be big acts of self-love and kindness.

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