How to deal with a dysfunctional family

Individuals from dysfunctional families have trouble experiencing a sense of belonging and self worth in their daily lives. They find themselves repeatedly drawn into self-defeating and self-destructive patterns of behavior, without being able to understand the reason behind it. No matter how hard they try, the ‘ghost’ of their family never seems to leave them. Here are some ways to deal with a dysfunctional family.

Accept the facts

The feature of a dysfunctional family is that those who are part of it accept it as normal, and fail to see the harmful effects it has on everyone, especially on growing children. The first step is learning how to deal with a dysfunctional family setting is to see the truth for what it is. The more painful truth is that by definition a system is an arrangement of parts where if one part is affected, all other parts also get similarly affected. By this definition, the person growing up in a dysfunctional setting is equally dysfunctional. It can be very painful for a person to look at and acknowledge the abusive behavior or alcoholism in someone they love and respect and perhaps look up to. It is even more painful to acknowledge that just being part of such a system makes you as dysfunctional as anyone else in the family.

Give up the need to control

The phenomenon of being in a dysfunctional family is characterized by what is commonly known as co-dependency. This is a form of emotional dependence on the dysfunction or the dysfunctional system. Co-dependents derive a sense of normalcy and self worth from their attempts to control and repair what they perceive as in need of fixing. Most individuals growing up in a dysfunctional family are driven by, if not obsessed with the urge to control the lives of the family members. Letting go of this need to control is not easy but you have to try hard.

Write your own script

Most people who come from dysfunctional families experience a loss of power and control over their own emotional lives. They start believing that they are doomed to live in desperation. The most common explanation offered by such people is that they cannot help being the way they are and that nothing can be done about it. That is not true. You can write your own script and live your lives based on beliefs that you have acquired through your thinking. Most of the beliefs that are acquired while growing up are based on information that one has at that point in time. As one grows and recognizes the effects of being in a dysfunctional system, it is possible to rewrite those beliefs and re-wire one’s reactions to situations, people and things. Human beings are gifted with the quality of being able to choose their course of action, to choose their responses based on beliefs that they have thought through and reasoned out. You can alter the script that has been written for you by your dysfunctional family and write your own script.

Find the right kind of help

Certain effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family can be deep rooted, and it may not be possible to undo such damage without qualified professional help. People from dysfunctional families typically experience various unmet needs, and they act these needs out in all areas of their existence. This can lead them to seek help from people that they think can help them but who are really only going to feed their unmet needs. As a result, the whole cycle of dysfunction is set in motion all over again with nobody realizing why the victim-perpetrator drama is being enacted again. Sadly, a large number of people from dysfunctional settings end up assuming helping roles in social or organizational settings. It is best to seek help from certified and qualified professionals who are trained and capable of not letting you go from one hurting circumstance into another.

Create a healthy family yourself

The greatest tragedy of dysfunctional families is that they propagate themselves. As individuals struggle through their lives in society, instead of healing themselves and finding healthy and mature partners, they subconsciously end up choosing partners and setting up families where they can recreate the so-called comfort of what they assume to be normalcy. Instead of breaking the vicious circle of abuse and unmet emotional and psychological needs, they end up creating an environment where it will be inflicted upon the next generation. The most important step you can take in dealing with dysfunctional families is to break free from the past and create a healthy, consistent, and nurturing family setting for your children to grow up in. This is simultaneously the greatest redemption you can experience to free yourself from the past and the greatest gift you can give to your family and your children.

Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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