In Family of Origin Work: How to Untangle and Tend to Your Obstacles, I looked at how to understand your history and how it’s impacted you. There are many ways people cope with challenging environments and situations. Once you have identified the problems and understand the imprint they made, the last step is to work towards healing.
There are many aspects of healing and truly moving through what has blocked you up to now and I’d like to focus on two of the most important things you can do to start this process. At this point, ideally you have thought about how your behavior currently, individually or in relationships, is not so helpful. It made sense at one time in a protective or adaptive way but now it’s not working for you.
Do Something Different
As simplistic as this sounds, it’s imperative that to do this work you must change. Change can be anxiety provoking but testing yourself, walking to the edge of your comfort zone and trying different things to break problematic patterns is part of the deal. My therapy clients who thrive the most are the ones who leave my office after a session and do something different in their lives to yield a different outcome. As you learn that it’s not so scary and actually get positive results, you have a positively reinforcing loop. And learning to feel more at ease in taking risks builds competence over time.
Being aware of what goes on around you, what you’re feeling and how your behavior is linked to your feelings goes hand in hand with doing something different. In fact, if you zoom through life without awareness of these things it will be very difficult to break bad habits. Several times throughout your day, start a practice of stopping what you’re doing and noticing things around you. While you’re doing this, take a personal inventory of how you’re feeling in that moment. What are you thinking about? As you strengthen your “noticing” muscle you will be better equipped to do something different.
Family of origin work can be deeply rewarding and truly life changing. Getting clarity around who you are, the issues you struggle with, where those unhealthy roots came from and finally healing is a process.
I have written a mini guide on how to think like a therapist and start to work through your family of origin issues. Many of you will find it to be enough to help you do this work on your own. For others, it won’t be but it could be an excellent starting point to at least create a paradigm in which to start your work with a therapist, putting you ahead of the game in already having some understanding of your issues.
This is the first of a three part series on family of origin work:
*If you suspect you could benefit from further self-exploration, see my mini guide, Family of Origin Work: Untangle Your Unhealthy Roots, which this series is based on.