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6 Ways To Make Dysfunctional Families Functional

6 Ways To Make Dysfunctional Families Functional

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/ via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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