Brother or bother?

Joey Garcia

My brother’s fiancée packed up all of her things while he was at work and left without a word. He can’t eat or sleep. He can barely talk. We don’t know where she is. Her family will not tell us. I know my brother. He’s a control freak who convinces himself he’s not because he validates all of his behaviors. He’s a food Nazi but insists it’s for optimum health. He hits the gym and a yoga studio every day and he runs every day. He says he’s an uber-athlete, but he criticizes anyone who doesn’t exercise constantly. He quotes Pema Chodron and Deepak Chopra but doesn’t practice any of that stuff. He wants me to help him find his fiancée. I have tried to convince him it’s not a good idea but he doesn’t listen. He is the only family I have. How can I get him to move on without thinking I’m disloyal?

If you want to help your brother, don’t crumple at the thought of being labeled disloyal. Instead, when he slings an accusation, notice what level of pain you feel. Be curious about the reaction his words invoke in you.

Discomfort proves you haven’t cleaned out your own fears around a label. An unhealed, prior experience of misplaced loyalty still haunts you. Free yourself from the emotional residue connected to being called disloyal, and you will be more present to help your brother. Yes, that means fear of being disloyal is one of the ways you inhibit, restrict and micromanage yourself. It’s also one of the ways you allow others to control you.

Your brother’s food and exercise schedule reveals his obsession with the physical body. His habit of quoting popular authors is evidence of his admiration of the intellect. But he seems stumped by his emotions and by the spiritual level of life. Well, that’s true for most of us, right? We confuse knowledge (an intellectual understanding) with wisdom (awakening to a new way of living as a result of self-examination and then embodying that change). We also confuse emotions with truth (emotions are information, but not necessarily honest information).

Your brother isn’t thinking about emotions or spiritual values. He just wants his old life back. He probably imagines that once his girlfriend returns, he will feel better and that’s all he wants right now—to feel better. In part, that’s because he’s grieving. If he shifts into self-examination, he may realize that he loves her. Love means he wants what is best for her, not what is best for him. The ideal situation for her is to be away from him. How do I know? She’s gone.

You can help him invest in reality by inviting him to consider her needs, not just his own. Remind him to trust her sense of self-care while tending to his emotional response to abandonment. Encourage him to stop abandoning himself and find new ways of engaging in his emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health.

My condo was broken into six months ago. I haven’t slept well since. I keep thinking I am hearing noises, like someone breaking in. I wasn’t at home when my place was robbed but I am so scared that the burglar will return. How can I get past this fear?

Rein in your imagination. Remind yourself that you are, in this moment, safe. A break-in is disturbing, but imagining that the burglar might return is a misuse of your creative skills. Don’t employ your creativity to tell yourself a horror story. Be willing to confront the thoughts that are intruding on your sleep. Yes, a burglar broke into your home once and now you steal your serenity nightly. Please give that fear a rest.

Meditation of the week
“We have this obsession with broken homes. Everyone wants to find a problem with it, but not me. I had great homes. Both my parents remarried and I got more people to learn from,” says the British actor JJ Feild. Do you try to fix things that aren't broken?

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