Everyone comes into life with a purpose. You are a unique expression of the universal life force. Spirit guides you from the moment your life begins. The people and events of your life reflect your spirit's journey. No one else ever has or will affect the world as you do. With every act, word or thought, you are adding to All-That-Is.

Your family is your first and most influential bond. What you learn from them colors the way you see yourself and the world. As a child, your physical helplessness makes you dependent on the people closest to you for survival. Too often those relationships are destructive instead of supportive. The family you join already has tendencies: patterns, beliefs, and attitudes which they expect you to share. Going along gets you what you need, so you adapt to fit in. But when you ignore your instincts, you don't feel right. You create the opposite of what you intend.

The good news is you don't have to be a victim of your upbringing. Although a dysfunctional family can crush your self-esteem, confuse you, and wreck your relationships, the distortion of your natural instincts can be reversed. Your problems can show you what you'd rather have, so you can become the person you want to be and build a life you love.

Surviving a dysfunctional family doesn't necessarily mean getting along better with your relatives. You make peace with the past by treating difficult situations, thoughts, and feelings as opportunities to unravel the knots in your heart and mind that keep you stuck. Creating a new future means drawing on your innate wisdom to help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. When you do your best, you tap into a power that's been within you all along, in even the worst circumstances, even when you weren't aware of it.

Change doesn't happen overnight. The most important thing is a dedication to trying new things and learning from your experience. No matter what happens, trust that what you go through will enlighten you, little by little, more and more, deepening your ability to love, create, and make a difference.

So how do you go about doing this? Here are ten ways to spark change in your life:

Finding your own preferences

Your new course is first an internal one, which paves the way for external changes. If you're not satisfied with your life as it is, imagine how it can get better. What happens in your life is largely up to you, so make it a priority to figure out how to create what you want.
Take time every day to think about what you want. Be willing to try new things. Pay close attention to ideas and feelings that light you up. Allow yourself to feel excited about your possibilities. What you dedicate yourself to, you can create.

Tapping into your inner wisdom

When you hear the "little voice of wisdom" inside, listen. Within you is a guidance system that makes itself known through your ideas and emotions. Trust it. If something doesn't feel right, it may mean that it's not for you. Wonder about why not, and what you'd like instead. Your instinct leads you to where you need to go at the perfect moment for the best results.
Stand your ground. Believe in yourself in the face of criticism. Have good intentions. Don't second-guess yourself. All you can do is what you think is best at the moment.

Developing a positive attitude

Spirit underlies everything. You didn't come here to prove your worth or to find a problem and fix it. You came to express your talents and abilities, to realize your dreams. How things appear is affected by how you look at them. Search for the positive. Negative interpretations dull your energy and ability to cope. No matter how bad a situation seems, ask yourself, what good could come from this? What can I learn here? You already have inside you the resources to build the life you want. You just have to learn how to use them.

Separating motivation from unconscious pattern

Be on the lookout for destructive habitual patterns. Noticing is the first step to breaking them. Don't fight them, just observe your thoughts and feelings. The deeper you can go, the more you unravel the knots in your heart and mind. Bring spirit into the process by inviting metaphysical help in any form that works for you. Be influenced by others' opinions only if they inspire you. You don't have to convince anyone of your right to have your life as you want it.

Developing effective communication

Be kind. Tell the truth. Speak carefully. Say good things. Be aware of your effect on others. Make things right. Know when to shut up. Don't interrupt. Choose your battles. Watch what you listen to. Allow different points of view.
Don't brag, one-up, pretend you're something you're not, or congratulate yourself too much. Don't think of yourself as better than most. Don't give advice unless you're asked. Don't gossip. Don't assume you're being understood. Watch what you listen to. Don't put up with disrespect, manipulation or negative thinking.

Setting your own standards

Life isn't about success or failure. Although both teach valuable lessons, fulfilling your potential is the essential goal. Adversity can develop strength. If a dream sours, let it go without judgment or remorse. Assume it's no longer relevant, and look for new options. Even a losing battle can be a stepping-stone to a better situation. Accepting change brings peace of mind.

Every situation brings exactly what you need to wake up

Relationships are like jigsaw puzzles. All the pieces fit together to create the whole. You are not responsible for anyone else's feelings, nor are they for yours. There’s no reason for guilt, blame, or shame. Allow people to be as they are.
Accept each moment as if you'd chosen it. If someone hurts you, look for what you can learn from it. Holding a grudge drains your energy. Forgiveness doesn't mean it was okay with you; it means releasing the person's power to upset you. You may never forget, but letting go of resentment is more productive. This goes double for forgiving yourself.

Nurturing yourself

Meditation calms your conscious thinking mind, and helps you access your inner wisdom. Counting your breaths is the basic form, or you can silently repeat a soothing word or phrase like "peace" or "well-being." When your mind wanders, and it will, just bring your focus back and start over. Even ten minutes a day can make a difference.
Make time to have fun and enjoy life. Take walks in nature. Spend time alone. Exercise, rest and eat when you need to, and drink lots of water. Something as simple as a warm bath or good stretch can do wonders in improving your perspective. Laugh. Let yourself dream your fondest dreams. Celebrate your successes, big and small.

See beyond your blind spots

Get counseling, either alone or with family members. It helps to talk about your feelings, no matter how embarrassing, strange or awful they seem to you. Find someone you trust and feel compatible with, and be willing to pour your heart out. An objective observer can clear up confusion and help you set your creative energy free.
Examine both sides of any issue. Don't follow advice blindly, but do explore ideas that make sense to you to see what happens. Join a group of people with similar interests or circumstances to yours. Try art, sports, music, or dance for fun and/or therapy. Read self-help books. Most have at least some helpful nuggets, and can reassure you that you're not alone. Don't expect The Answer, but serve yourself a variety of ideas to take or leave as you like.

Graduate to living fully

Respect your own boundaries. Your first priority is to yourself. Only when you're at peace with yourself can you make a real contribution to anyone. Live your own truth, be honorable, and intend the best for everyone, including yourself.

Trying to change someone is futile, no matter how much you care, or how badly you think they need it. You have no control over what anyone else feels or thinks. Do what you can, and do your best, but not at your own expense. Working things through can be healing when there's mutual respect, but if you feel hopeless, scapegoated, threatened or frantic, retreat may be the only appropriate choice, at least for the moment. It could be as basic as leaving the room briefly, or as extreme as ending the relationship or moving away. To leave your mark on future generations, pass along what you learn.

Author's Bio: 

Suzanne Gold (BA, MA, Psychology) is in private practice and teaches at St. Mary's College. She has worked at psychiatric and drug treatment centers, taught meditation, co-founded a self-help group for women in public housing and an environmental grantmaking fund. She is author of "DADDY’S GIRLS," Gold Medal winner in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards, and "BEING YOURSELF: Twenty-Four Ways to See the Light," and is also an award-winning vocalist and songwriter.