The Power of Family Patterns
Family patterns, both healthy and unhealthy, have a legacy and power for future generations. We are grateful for healthy patterns. Unhealthy patterns tend to be more difficult to confront. And, these can teach us the most when we are open to exploring them.
How often do we stop and examine what we might be passing down to our children or those around us? Often, we are just doing what we know. We may tell ourselves we will never be like our parents or others in our lives and think we create a different pattern. We soon discover we have just recreated the patterns that are normal or comfortable for us.
It’s important to explore why we think, feel and act the way we do. Sometimes we are on auto-pilot and not awake to our daily actions and how they show up.
Taking time to explore your unhealthy patterns will help stop the multi-generational transmission of issues. It’s a gift you give to yourself and the people you care about. It is not about getting stuck or blaming our past. It’s about creating insight, becoming aware of what we want to do differently and then taking action to change it.
Below are a few key areas to begin your journey of making a lasting change.
- Explore the role of guilt and shame. Do you struggle with guilt or feeling bad? Do you use guilt to “get” your children to do what you want them to do? Was guilt or shame used in your family system as a form of control or manipulation? Write out how you use shame and guilt with others and yourself. Let go of the “should’s” and start accepting yourself for who you are. We are human beings that are imperfect. The key is to grow and learn from our choices so we be more joyful, happy and at peace.
- Look at boundaries. What were the boundaries in your family growing up? Were they rigid or did you not have any rules? We teach other people how to treat us. Did you learn to set healthy boundaries with others? Do you set them with your children? Write out what your boundaries are and start communicating what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship.
- Understand your feelings. Were you able to express your feelings or did you have to hold them in? Are you uncomfortable when others express how they feel? Some people neglect their own feelings and needs by taking care of others, even when others aren’t asking for it. This may lead to feeling resentment and neglected. You are not responsible for fixing or changing your whole family. We can’t change or control others. You are responsible for you, your choices and making changes
This is some of the most powerful and transformative work you can do. Be patient with yourself. It takes courage and a willingness to be accountable. It takes one person to change the pattern. So, start with you!
-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained
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