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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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