The journey of healing from a dysfunctional family (that has stayed that way) is a lifelong path. Most people who come to me are at a point in their lives where they cannot take it any more and are overcome with fear that there is nothing to be done.
I am here to tell you there is plenty that can be done.
Breaking it down into manageable pieces is key. And that is exactly what we are going to talk about today.
1. Acknowledge and identify the problem. This stage takes a while because the enormity of it and the perceived implications are frightening. In therapy, we challenge beliefs and ideas, consider things from multiple angles, and draw conclusions based on the best information we have at the time.
2. Figure out what you want to do about it. For many people, the answer is nothing. The thought of doing anything different is terrifying. It's a lot like physical therapy, which lots of people drop out of because it's painful at first and the results are not instantaneous. Same here. Welcome to therapy!
3. Load on nurturance, grace, and self care! You are going to need it to keep up your stamina as you begin to make changes.
4. Develop realistic expectations. If you have always been the needy one in a relationship, your partner will be out of a job as you heal. There will be readjustments taking place. Things will be disassembled and rearranged. Much like resetting a broken leg that wasn't attended to properly the first time around. Also? You are not going to change anyone else. This is a good time to remember to focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you cannot.
5. Figure out what your values are and then set your priorities accordingly (hint: they're not the same thing, but we'll talk more about that later).
6. Set some boundaries. For yourself and for others. These boundaries will be based on your values and priorities. Also? Remember step 3: this is where it gets tough for a lot of people.
Repeat steps 1 - 6 in whatever order you need them.
Have you been able to begin the healing process? Share what has worked for you in the comments below. If you need support or help in getting started, please contact me so we design next steps, just for you.
Cindy Goeller is a licensed therapist who loves listening to others, eating Maryland steamed crabs, and exploring the Finger Lakes of New York. When she is not in session with her clients, she can be found writing, baking, or spending time with her family.