So are you a Blood or a Crip? Or maybe you relate more to the Latin Kings? Perhaps you might know a few guys who ride with the Warlocks or Hell’s Angels? Now, just take a minute and imagine all of these guys sitting at your dinner table on Thanksgiving Day. Only, they are not gangs. They are your family members. They each come with their own codes of secrecy. They each carry pain etched into their skin like a faded Jesus tattoo. And they’re looking to expand their turf and recruit you into their madness of misery by forcing you to drink moonshine gin. If you dread being around your family for more than five minutes, then you need to read these six tips. You’ll learn how to make dysfunctional families functional and stop family events from turning into deadly massacres of tiffs and battles for turf.

1. People are very emotional. It is difficult to deal with emotions.

The difficulty lies in us not really communicating with words, but with emotions. Sadly, many people don’t have control over their emotions. Or people simply can’t understand their emotions well enough to communicate them effectively. Families are nothing more than a series of differing relationships with underlying emotions. Each member within the family is working to get some kind of need met. Psychiatrist W. Robert Beavers developed the Beavers Scale of Family Functioning. This scale measures the emotional health and development patterns within the family structure. People can use the Beaver’s scale to identify their family structure and thus make strides to change it.

2. Level 5: Families void of love and emotion.

These families are the lowest on the Beaver Scale. Much like gangs, members of these families are beaten or sexed in. Sadly, members within these families are severely neglected. They feel lost simply because the family structure lacks a strong authoritative parental figure. Members become void of emotion, because they’ve become jaded from all the abuse and suffering. People within these families lack empathy. They don’t have the capacity to understand other people’s pain.

When dealing with members in this family structure, it is wise to refrain from face to face confrontation. They will never admit or apologize for hurting you, because they simply refuse to acknowledge your pain. The best way to handle members within this family structure is to not give them any additional power. Your attitude must remain in neutral even when you’re seething inside. In time, you’ll find the pain they caused you will disseminate. Once you have control, then you can find the right counselor or therapist who can guide you the rest of the way.

3. Level 4: The Dictator! This family structure is rack by rigid rules and a strong disciplinarian who acts more like a dictator than a parent.

The tyrant rules with coercion and intimidation. The tyrant seeks to control the feelings and actions of his/her subordinates. She will chastise, ostracize and burn people at the stake if they refuse to adhere to her rules. It is important to understand that people that can’t control themselves wish to control the people around them. Members in these family structures may act out, because they need some sense of freedom.

Or their self-confidence might be tampered to a point in which they become a human doormat. A wise teacher once taught me relationships are all about roles. First, we need to understand the other person, identify what they’re lacking, and thus jump into the role that is going to alleviate their pain. In the case of a controlling loved one. We can work to offer them a sense of security. We don’t need to feel micro-managed. Instead, we can control a controlling relationship by staying two steps ahead of him. Tell him everything you’re going to do, exactly when you’re going to do it. Don’t be a bossy pants or smartass. Do it with love and compassion. This will make the controlling person feel safe. With time, he or she will become less controlling.

4. Level 3: It is our way or the highway.

There is nothing more painful than not being allowed to be who you are. In this family structure there isn’t a tyrant parent or guardian who is suppressing the individual rights of the family members. Rather, it’s the family as a whole. The family uses psychological persuasions to control and manipulate members. Sadly, these same methods are used as brainwashing techniques in cults and gangs. Naturally, people want to conform, partly because their fear of isolation and abandonment are so strong. After all, it is fear of non-acceptance that drives initiation in gangs to commit heinous crimes.

In this family structure, the interest of the group takes precedence over the needs of the individual. As a result, the individual never really develops his or her own thoughts, or intuitive understanding. Sadly, the only way to become an individual is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Renowned speaker and author Brené Brown talks about the power of vulnerability. People falsely assume vulnerability means being weak, feeble or crying. In truth, vulnerability means having the courage to be who you are. First, you’ll need to peel away everything that is false about you. Then, you need to take some serious time to truly explore who you are. I like to use creative visualization methods to explore the deeper parts of self. However, meditating by a river, ocean or tree is enough to get you started.

5. Level 2: Mediocre Family. There are a lot of loosely regulated rules in this family structure.

Individuals within this family are allowed to voice their opinions. There is a considerable amount of empathy and respect. And rules are flexible and can be amended when needed. Members within this family structure work hard to break away from old destructive habits. They are able to step back and reflect. They are also able to understand and respect people’s differences. Members in these families are able to sit down and talk, and come to a truce to stop the perpetual battles over turf and power.

6. Level 1: The best of the best.

This is the kind of structure that is often displayed on hit television shows like The Cosby Show and Full House. Members within these family structures offer each other a sense of love and security. Unlike most gangs, this family structure is incredibly efficient with a strong sense of security. Members don’t abuse their power. They communicate well, and are open to love and intimacy. If your family is not at level one, there is no need to worry. You don’t need to work to try and change them. Instead, observe them from a distance. Then work to make optimum changes within yourself, by doing this, you’ll break dysfunctional patterns. And you will begin to shift the dynamics of your whole family structure.

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