They may get under our skin, but best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert says there are some things that only family can teach us.
“I had a great teacher in India who said to me, ‘If you think you’re spiritual and evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes,'” Gilbert says in the above video.
Addressing a live audience during Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour, Gilbert goes on to explain why the people you love the most are also the ones who challenge you the most.
“In AA they always say to you, ‘How come your family knows how to push your buttons? Because they installed them,'” she says. “They know where they are because they put them in you.”
Though they can be the biggest cause of stress and anxiety, Gilbert says we can learn a great deal from family. “These are the greatest spiritual teachers of your life,” she says. “And when you go into these situations where you feel your back going up and you’re bristling — watch it. Because this is an opportunity to have a real spiritual lesson where it counts, where the rubber meets the road.”
The moment you start to feel that stress and anxiety building up, Gilbert says to stop and think. “This is a teachable moment. What am I being asked to learn here? Patience? Dignity? Boundaries? Generosity? Compassion?”
Or maybe, it’s getting up and leaving the situation. “That same monk said to me, ‘We have an obligation to love everybody in the world,'” Gilbert says. “‘But some people we must love from a safe distance.'”