We all come from dysfunctional families.
Sounds a little harsh but the truth is the majority of us have experienced some kind of off-balance in the dynamics of our family. Un-defined boundaries, emotional stress and at some point shame and guilt. We all grow up thinking our family is normal until we begin to experience life outside of our personal boundaries and notice some things seem odd.
I know you are probably thinking this is a little too much or if you are an optimist you shrug it off saying that is what real families are like. Sure it is, AND unless we live and raise our children through awareness and open communication-we will continue the cycle of dysfunction. The truth is what matters most is the missed opportunity in deeper self-discovery, inspirational personal expression and ultimately the amount of untapped potential in each and every child, predominantly because we are too busy barely surviving.
To truly be committed to a life of honesty, love and discipline, we must be willing to commit ourselves to reality.
― John Bradshaw, Healing the shame that binds you.
So let me start from the very beginning:
What makes up a dysfunctional family?
While there is a very wide spectrum; a dysfunctional family is essentially when you experience some kind of pain from your parents’ behaviour. Something they did or did not do & the words they used while raising you.
Did they tell you that you were enough? Or maybe if they did, you felt smothered? How many of your needs do you feel were not met when you were young?
What is the impact of this ‘dysfunctionality’?
One big word-SHAME. As a result of a particular experience, the child ends up feeling ashamed of the person they are being or the things they are doing. We see it all the time, so innocently. A child says something that makes an adult laugh, the child takes that behaviour as a personal judgment and, unless it is addressed in that moment in time, that child will forever remember that moment of shame, of being laughed at, of not being good enough.
Parents are doing the best they can.
Look at the average age we become parents, for me I was 24. I do not care if you are 45. Unless you have invested in personal self-discovery and development, you are probably behaving from reaction versus choice. That reaction you are having to your daughter deciding to date or your toddler falling over, is generally learned behaviour that your parents taught you… that your grandparents taught them etc…
There is so science to parenting and in fact there is nothing out there that prepares you for the divine position of being a parent. Ultimately, our roles get repeated again and again until we become aware of who we are being and what we are doing. This is not an attack on parents, not at all-I honour each parent out there. This is a call for self-introspection, a selfish kind of stance of healing.
I learnt a profound formula in my Psychotherapy class and it is:
Awareness + Acceptance + Action = Change
This is your potential for inquiry and especially if you are a parent yourself. You will fight what I have said and that is your second step, to be in acceptance of what you have gone through and that it is real. Your final step is to take action. Take a stand for yourself and invest in some personal development; a book, a class or a person-whatever is right for you. Just honour your growth.
Imagine what is possible… when we share from our hearts and not our shame, fears and self-limitations. Imagine what can happen when we open up to each other and share what actually is rather than the stories we have created around our pain. How about I tell you that your behaviour hurt my feelings, rather than distance myself from you and live in that separation of hurt and loneliness.
What if…we raised kids to feel safe to share all that they feel, no matter how awkward it is (and it gets awkward at that pre-teen – teen stage). We do that by listening and not giving advice. How about we tell them we don’t have all the answers but together we can get there-connection through vulnerability. And what if we shared our imperfections as human beings with them? Why do we always have to pretend that we know it all or have our shit together. We generally do not and our kids are most privy to that. Tell them you are lost, broken and confused when you feel that way. And let me tell you from personal experience, kids are the most profound therapists. You know why? they love you unconditionally and will help you unconditionally. That help is through the eyes of love.
I was a Roald Dahl fan growing up and there is a reason Matilda has magical powers. Think about it :).
P.S. Are we hooked up on Facebook? If not, c’mon over, hit the like button and introduce yourself! I’d love to meet you.
P.P.S. Have you checked out our signature program at The Orkid Project? Join the next Journey to Self.