Family Is Important and So Am I: Part Two - Choose Your Health
Family Is Important and So Am I - Part Two: Choose Your Health
Today's blog is Part Two of three-part series: Family Is Important and So Am I.
If you have not already read Part One , please do so and then return here. It is important to Choose Your Truth so that you can establish a foundation from which to Choose Your Health.
This series is for individuals who have worked on their wellness, or for those who are currently embracing a path of recovery, or for those who have chosen an intentional healthy way of being which is much different from their family of origin. And in spite of their levels of wellness, these individuals find themselves still injured by family members.
Although we cannot change the unhealthy behaviors of others, we can choose our response to them.
Let's grab hold of another healing choice. It is time to stop hurting and…
Choose Your Health
As we have discussed in Part One, some families are healthy and some are not. And sometimes, it is really hard for individuals whose family's way of being is deeply defined by cultural, social, spiritual, or traditional norms to discern its injurious impact on them. Other times, generational trauma is so deeply engrained within the family's way of functioning, it is not recognized as being harmful.
Even when there is a sense that something is off, it is often not safe to speak about it. Duty, obligation, and allegiance to family -- or to specific members within the family -- often trump the psychological, emotional, and physical needs of the individual. Fear of being shamed or shunned is also a strong silencer.
A couple of years ago I was working with a vibrant, professional young married mother of two. She entered therapy to work on a few issues related to her spouse; however, she spent most of our first few sessions together crying about her family. Although she was proud of her Mediterranean heritage and colorful cast of relatives, she sobbed as she disclosed the incessant arguing, fighting, and violent exchanges which she witnessed throughout most of her childhood.
Sitting across from me as a young woman, she found it almost impossible to manage her anxiety. She was still required to make daily calls to her mother and father. And every Sunday, she and her family were expected to attend the family dinner -- where the chaos still persisted and was often justified as "a proud family who doesn't hide their emotions."
Working together to heal her trauma, she began to understand how her health had been impacted as a young child and how it was continuing to be affected. Although the work was very hard for her, she began little by little setting boundaries around the relationships within her family. She cut back on calls and texts. She and her husband made plans on weekends, excusing themselves from family dinner. She learned how to lessen her emotional investment into family and begin investing into healthy, loving sources of support. Even with sharp criticism laid against her, bravely she began choosing her health over the needs of family.
Just as my client chose to do, one of the best ways to stop hurting and start choosing your health is through boundary work.
Boundaries are not about pushing people away.
Boundaries are about creating a safe space around you in order to protect your healing
and promote your well way of being.
Exercise: Although your situation may not be as harmful as my clients, take an honest assessment of how your family or members of your family are impacting your health -- emotionally, psychologically and physically. As you begin reflecting upon your boundaries, go through these steps.
Write down your responses.
1) Lean into your new foundation. What is your new truth? (Example: Family is important and so am I).
2) Listen to what your physical and emotional health are telling you. How are you being impacted?
3) Limit your time with family members who injure you and lessen your investment into them. In what ways can you protect your healing and promote your wellbeing? Be specific.
4) Learn from what works and what doesn't. What do you want to keep doing? What do you want to stop doing?
Now, based on your repsonses, write down your boundaries and begin implementing them. Start with one or two. Build upon them as needed.
Although you may receive push-back from family, remind yourself that you are not pushing others away. You are choosing your health and protecting yourself.
*Note, in Breaking Through Betrayal Chapter 9 , there is a subsection on Boundary Work - Bracing Yourself with Supportive Structures. You are provided with concrete exercises for setting and sustaining boundaries. Boundary work is hard. And, it works.
As you are working on this exercise and when you feel ready, move on to Part Three.
Are you feeling your shift taking hold?
Are you experiencing a new strength and sense of wellbeing from Choosing You?
Keep going and keep growing!
Coming January 2022
SHIFTING Bravely: a Path to Growth, Healing, and Transformation
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