“If I have failed more than you have, I have won”- Seth Godin
We happen to think we are big failures when we are failing. We aren’t failures, we just need to go through the process of life when we try things. That’s the reality. We have to overcome the negativity. The sad part is that we low-key know about this but ‘fail” to take this approach because it’s unconventional. But you know what? Everything I have ever succeeded at was done through failing many times and not giving up.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
Volleyball had many practicing hours before I could even learn to serve. Writing took me writing 83 essays to every 1 my classmates wrote so I could top them. In all of those essays, 1 in every 15 would be really amazing. My driving test took me two attempts. So what I want you to do is to learn to fight the thought of failure being a bad thing. See the word “fail” and turn it mentally to “learn”. It’s hard but only through failing will we learn the most. It’s painful but it shouldn’t have to be.
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel
Bear with me for a second.
I asked my boyfriend what “failing” means to him. His response was “The End”.Advertising
What really is “failing”? I googled it and look what I found
You see this? A weakness in a character! A weakness! Weaknesses can be strengthened if practiced enough! Failing isn’t a life-ending and detrimental factor. It’s a good thing. It shows you what needs to be strengthened, not what needs to make you feel like you’re the worse person on earth and that you have no purpose. Ugh! I just hate it when people over-exaggerate. Don’t fall for their trap of allowing you to not believe that you can accomplish your dreams.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
Here are a few things we often “fail” at but it turns out beautifully if you keep working at them with an open mind:
You’ll fail with friendships
Friends forever? Ahh no. There will be times when your “friends” aren’t who you expect them to be. It hurts but it’s just one of those things that we have to get through as humans. Some will lie to you, have babies, get married and straight up not have the time for you. These are all normal because through it all, a select few will always be there no matter what and more than likely you will develop more friendships as you go along. Well, those often are more worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to allow this process to take its course. Be open to it and let it transition. Here you will learn who really has your back and who will be there for you no matter what. Most importantly, you’ll learn to be much wiser.
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch
You’ll fail to make big decisions
As a 20-something, I cannot explain how many decisions I’ve failed at. Nope, I’d probably be embarrassed to say it all. Well, I’d look beyond that; anything for you. The point is that especially when you don’t have guidance (there is always some sort) we tend to make the crappiest decisions and then feel bad after. One thing is sure, if you’re tired of this happening then this is a pain point to make a change. Read more, find a mentor, a coach… something. How long will we be comfortable making the same bad decisions? Guidance from someone who is more knowledgeable at life will suffice. You can even get Cheatsheets on how to turn your life around on the internet. Here’s one I wrote specifically for you guys.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael JordanAdvertising
When you get older, naturally your priorities will change. Parties, liquor and whatever else is there to distract you doesn’t count as much. Getting ahead in your life becomes the main objective. You will begin to get curious and try new things to secure a future. However, trying new things has much trial and error in it. This can sometimes be a burden. We fail a lot by not having the results we want immediately but who cares? It’s okay to fail. Yes… it’s not okay to give up after you have failed though. This will teach determination and discipline. Keep going until you win! And you will win!
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson
You’ll fail to compromise
As a 20 something we feel so many pressures from everyone. We want to find what our purpose is but try to please our moms and dads at the same time. That within itself curates failure. Don’t worry, we always figure it out. Just know it takes some time. By going through this process, you learn patience, kindness and the ability to reason from someone else’s point of view.
“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter
You’ll fail to look after your body
Before you get to that stability level, you will fall short and cheat on certain things. Sugar, salt, alcohol, exercise you name it. It will take tonnes of effort to get to eating healthy but sometimes you’ll succumb to the junk. Look at it this way, when you wake up in the morning, beat it in your head that today is a brand new day. Forget the failures from yesterday then exercise that “discipline muscle” and start one more time. The biggest investment is you. No one should beat you up for this. Learning about mind conditioning and will power will do wonders for you. Trust me.
“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates
You’ll fail to invest in the future
“You only live once” is the mantra of most 20-somethings. That sounds pretty fun doesn’t it? Time and time again you’ll know what to do deep within yourself. You know it would be right for you but your mind will wander. Remember, if you want to have a family and keep it, more than one relationship isn’t as smart a move. The same goes for any long term goal. You will learn to be laser-visioned.Advertising
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
You’ll fail to develop your own style
Society, family, & friends brainwashed most of us. When we see the whole pattern and is willing to change that, it will take much concentration to find what our “real” personalities are. Our personalities will lean less toward what’s trending and create our own styles. Easier said than done but why not learn about self development?
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres
You’ll fail to socialize differently
It’s kind of hard to put down our phones every once in a while and take a walk somewhere and strike up a conversation with someone new. It’s the norm for us so to go out of our comfort zones will be uninteresting and obsolete. My question to you is how far will the “norm” take you in life? It will absolutely change your life to put your phone down, leave it at home for a few hours and go try to speak to someone new. I dare you to try it. If you have issues making friends, you can find tips here. Now you are challenged to build on social skills.
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres
You’ll fail to manage your money
Majority of 20 somethings don’t have a set plan. It’s these years that you try to find your purpose and what you should be doing. While some have their lives together, some are in college completing the wrong degree and others are just sitting around waiting for life to make a change for them. You probably know…Life won’t. We just don’t always have it all figured out. It’s the same with money. Funds often slip by until you learn the language of money. Buy what you need only, invest in something long term and in a couple of years, you will have the financial freedom you deserve. Oh how would it feel to buy a car but unable to buy gas? Don’t buy a whole pizza today if you’re not that hungry and don’t know what you will eat tomorrow. Change the perspective young grasshopper. It will take much living from paycheck to paycheck and struggles to teach you to develop your investment skills.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
You’ll fail to value your family
Teenagers and 20 somethings grow intensely apart from their families due to miscommunication and feeling misunderstood. That’s a regular thing but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of talking back, just be quiet even if you’re tuning them out. This helps a lot. Instead of spitting fire with your tongue in return of a conflict, let it slide… just this one time. Your parents will be amazed by this. I know mine was when I figured out this tactic. I failed many times too. Just try it and you too will learn the value of silence.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
You’ll fail to stand up for yourself
We really have been manipulative as kids trying to guilt trip people for what we want. Getting out in the real world where people are hard inside, it gets tough. Here, our defensive mechanism falters. We find it hard to ask for raises and even break down when people put us down. Well, just like a kid it takes years to master getting what we want, we must master standing up for ourselves. This too will take a while. Here you will definitely learn how to strategies, be creative and be quick on your feet. All in all you learn how to become very Independent.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
You’ll fail to love yourself
This is the hardest of them all to me and that’s why so many of us suffer from depression and anxiety. This is just my opinion. There are other scientific and proven reasons of course. I just know that when I felt ugly because of the excess weight I had was because I didn’t work on loving myself enough. I cared more of what others thought of me. Until I learned to tell myself that I was the one living my life, took control and did something about my health, I could not have felt beautiful and love myself the way I do now. Did I fail? What do you think? You’ll be more than successful when you learn self-love.
Unless you want to keep winning and not learn anything which is a bit of an illusion, then learn to think of failure as a good thing. In my tribe, we fail to win. We never give up. I believe in you and I love you! Keep trying <3
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
Featured photo credit: Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com
Last Updated on November 11, 2019
Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?
A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.
You know how this looks:
- Parents constantly comparing children.
- Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
- Domestic violence.
- And many others.
For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.
Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.
Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.
This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.
In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.
If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.
Table of Contents
How to fix a dysfunctional family
In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.
And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.
Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?
It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.
Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.
Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.
There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…
Dysfunctional… Or just average?
Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.
The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.
You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…
A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.
Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.
Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Lack of interest and time spent together
- Lack of empathy
- Unequal or unfair treatment
- Disrespect towards boundaries
- Control Issues
- Verbal and physical abuse
- Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse
The link to productivity
You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…
If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.
Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.
How to turn it around
When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.
But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:
One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.
We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?
As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.
What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?
Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?
Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…
Correction is possible
In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.
All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.
Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.
This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.
But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.
So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.
Putting it to work in real life
In real life it would be something like this:
“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”
“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.
“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.
As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.
This is what you have to remember:
2-Why it’s wrong?
3-What you need.
And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.
It’s a family thing
A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.
Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.
In other words, you will need cooperation…
So don’t be afraid of asking for it!
Approach your family member and ask to be listened.
We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.
You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.
It’s not a free-for-all battle
In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.
No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.
Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.
And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…
1. Drop the ego
Wherever there is conflict there is ego.
You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.
Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.
What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.
It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.
After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…
Tell the other person how important all this is to you.
Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.
Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.
And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.
You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…
2. Not blame, but responsibility
When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.
But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…
When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.
What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!
Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.
As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.
You will do something like this:
“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.
I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.
You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.
I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.
It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”
What happened here?
We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.
We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.
We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.
And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.
You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.
This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!
3. Doing the work
What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!
This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.
Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.
If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.
It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.
“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.
I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.
But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”
You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.
Love is all you need
You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.
That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.
And what happens if it simply is not there?
What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?
What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?
There is only one thing you can do:
To break away.
Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.
There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:
“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”
If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…
Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.
You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.
So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.
What do I mean?
Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.
Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.
Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.
Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.
They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.
Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:
I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…
I choose my peace of mind.
And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…
Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.
Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.
How to prevent it
There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:
- To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
- To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)
Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.
You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.
Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.
Priorities and clear thought
You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.
You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.
You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.
Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…
If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.
And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.
Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.
But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.
Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com