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What To Do When A Family Dynamic Just Won’t Work

This is a sensitive topic. The many behaviors, actions, and motivations of our minds, tend to be guided by the subconscious/unconscious (these are very important concepts) realms that we cannot directly see or tangibly hold. Because of this, it becomes harder to accurately see into our self and what is going on inside of us – not just as an individual, but as an individual that exists within the whole of a family that usually has a fixed set of interactive patterns or ways in which people in a family act and speak toward one another. When a family dynamic is healthy – when each individual communicates with each individual in a constructive way – the whole of the family tends to function in a more fluid manner.

                At the same time, a family dynamic can be deemed to be unhealthy. That is, each family member or many family members within a family communicate with one another in a deconstructive way. In taking such a communicative approach, the family dynamic begins to emerge as degenerative – withdrawn, afraid to communicate authentic feelings with a keen eye toward avoiding conflict (even if it is healthy) by any measure and means necessary. Typically, this kind of family dynamic is built into the family system with subtle threats, explosive emotions (feelings), and the installation of fear.

                In the latter case, where the family dynamic is deconstructive and degenerative, each individual within the family has to evaluate whether or not the continuance of communication is worthwhile and really, healthy. In the absence of this kind of evaluation, each member of the family may continue to drag their self through an entourage of negativity and unsettling emotion. If, on the other hand, the family dynamic (pattern of communication) is positive and supportive, an evaluation by each individual may be unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

                But, what do we do when a family dynamic just won’t work or doesn’t seem to work over an extended period of time – let us say years of time or decades of time? What is a family to do? Or, what is each individual within the family to do to ensure they will continue to feel healthy about what is going on within the family dynamic?

                One option is for the family to do nothing, sweep it under the rug and pretend like nothing is going on – bad strategy because then the pattern of interaction is transferred to the succeeding generations of the same family who remain befuddled by rampant nuclear family tension. Or, another option is for family member (s) to speak up and voice their authentic feelings about what they feel is really going on. While this may be uncomfortable, creating the possibility for conflict and emotional strain, it also creates the possibility for there to be a resolution and a movement toward a more positive mode of how family members are talking with one another and affecting each other’s mental states.

                If the option of speaking up and expressing authentic feelings is rejected overall by the family, then one or two, or however many family members who will not align with the decision of rejecting authentic feelings may decide that it is ‘time to call it quits’ and commit to living a separate life (with very limited communication) that has more of a trajectory toward sustained positivity, growth, and more consistent feelings of happiness.

This line of reasoning, by the way, is also very applicable to organizational behavior and interaction.

What are your thoughts about family dynamics, communication, and voicing authentic feelings? Is all this talk just a bunch of hocus-pocus and taboo? Or, do you think there may be a grain of truth in what has just been said here?   

I, for one, feel the fragments of these realities and thus make a willing commitment toward positivity, playfulness, mutual respect, and collaborative growth.  

Until then, I’ll be listening to Near Fantastica by Matthew Good (sound vibrations of invincibility).

I am sorry for sounding like a know-it-all. I don’t like myself that much.  

Drop me a line if you find the time,

Matthew Polkinghorne   

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