Take the Initiative

We've been talking about How to B-E-A-T the Holiday Blues. It is fitting that we talk about the final step today as the holidays are about to come to an end. The great thing about what we've talked about so far, is that all these steps can be used throughout the year, NOT just at holidays.

Let's do a quick review:

  • Break the Rules!

  • Employ Safeguards

  • Adjust Your Expectations

In my last post, I talked about the fact that long-standing patterns within your family would not be easily changed, if at all. But, there's hope and it comes as a result of the next step!

Take the Initiative

I remember years ago in graduate school, we were learning about family dynamics and understanding the family as a "system" with various working parts and roles. I think it was one of my professors who had us think about a family like a machine with a number of working parts somewhat like a series of connected gears. I'm not much of a "techy" but I remember the professor's point: if one of the gears changes in anyway, it changes the entire working system. Because I'm such a visual person, I needed something I could see and put my hands on that would help me illustrate this concept, so I went immediately to the toy store. I found a "boy's toy" about the size of a small bath mat, made out of plastic with multiple gears that could be turned by a crank. It was perfect because the gears could be removed, placed elsewhere, or positioned in such a way to reverse the original direction of the gears in motion.

Take a moment to visualize this. This image may help:

The first thing to do in your family is to:

Observe the pattern

Too often in our families, we "absorb" our family patterns rather than objectively observing them. So, the next time you get together with family members, have a conversation on the phone, or have some type of interaction, just observe the pattern of how you relate to different family members and how other members relate to each other. You might notice things like: when sister Sally tries to interject her comments, everyone ignores her; or uncle Joe rarely voices his opinion, but when he does there is a lot of tension in the room; or when Mom complains about "no one" visiting enough-all the kids roll their eyes and try to change the subject. Whatever the patterns are in your family, the first step is to Take the Initiative by Observing the Patterns that exist. Try not to over-analyze them, just be an observer and notice what is occurring. Write them down and don't forget to include your own reactions to family members!

In my next post, I'm going to share how after years in my relationship with my biological father I took note of a pattern, and realized, if change was going to happen, it had to begin with me! I needed to do something different than I'd always done. I'd been a "gear" in the system, following the same old pattern, and I knew I must be the one to change my direction!

Tune in next time to hear what simple kitchen device changed my life! Can you guess what it was?