Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Exploring Your Family Map

Creating a family tree (genogram) will help you to get a better picture of your family patterns.  As you observe relational patterns in your family, try to see if there are any you need to work on.  Sometimes, it's hard to see ourselves as others do so if you are really serious about working on yourself - ask someone that you trust and won't get mad at if they tell you the truth.

Some patterns to watch for are closeness of family members, communication patterns, behavioral or emotional problems, job problems, addictions, anger and even occupations of family members.

You want to go back at least three generations.  What patterns of serious problems do you see?  How did your family handle stress, what did their marriages look like, how did parents relate to children, what were some of the health problems in your family line.  Was there alot of emotional disconnection in your family line.  Did family member feel like they belonged?

Again, this is not to become depressed or angry at your family if there are some destructive patterns.  This is an opportunity to look at the reality of what may have been passed down to you and what areas you may need to work on.  The more you work on you the better chance your children have of not struggling with these same patterns or at least to a lesser degree.  The goal is for each generation to continue to get healthier in every way.

So what do you do with all this information -
1.  Look at what family patterns are continuing through you -
2.  Admit this is an area you need to work on.
3.  Ask God to help you break this family pattern and replace it with something positive
4.  Get an accountability partner to work with you on this. Come up with a plan.

If you do all the above and still struggle to get past certain family patterns you may need some inner healing in that area of your life.   I recommend Anothenlife Ministries to anyone that needs in depth help in this area of their lives. 

The process of genuine change does not occur by magic.  Breaking a cycle of family patterns happens not by waving a wand or by reading a verse but with the combination of the Holy Spirit, The Word, other believers in our lives and our own determination and will. 

Trust in Him at all time, O people; Pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breaking Destructive Generational Patterns

Last post we discussed the well know term "Dysfunctional" family.  We know what that is, may even know we were in one or are in one, but we don't often know how to change those patterns in our own lives. 

Most families have some sort of harmful patterns in them.  We aren't perfect people, and we usually pass these behaviors from generation to generation with out even realizing it.  We can't really blame anyone because these patterns usually started so far back in our family that when we really examine our family we will see our parents probably had parents that had alot of destructive behavior because their parents had them and on and on.  And most people from the earlier generations didn't talk about such things, they didn't have all the resources we have to heal and change and become free of these patterns.  So I never blame anyone for the patterns that came to me through my family line because as I have looked at it I totally understand and only feel gratitude for the good things that did come through and the positive changes they did make.

So how do we really begin to recognize what those patterns are that we may need to change in our lives so this destructive behavior does not keep being passed down?  One way is of course to just look at some areas in which we struggle and know it isn't healthy behavior but unfortunately we tend to have alot of blind spots and denial in most of us.

So the best way to look at truth and reality is to see it in black and white.  A tool I use with many of my clients to do this is called a genogram.   It is basically constructing your family tree on paper but once you have all the people in place - probably going to at least grandparents - you then write down the patterns that you know of next to the name of each person - you will continue to do this throughout the genogram until you get to YOU.  Then you list beside your name all the things you can see that are now still part of your behavioral pattens.  Now a great thing to do is later to put all the positives but for purposes of changing behavior you do focus on the negatives for now.

Here is an example of what it may look like:
Family Genogram

There is something about seeing a BIG picture in black in white that brings reality into our thinking. 
So now you can get depressed about your family or you can be really happy that you can change all those destructive patterns for yourself and your descendants.  Lack of knowledge and understanding doesn't improve our lives but understanding fully why we do what we do and realizing we have the ability through Jesus to change those patterns in our lives and in doing so it will set a new pattern for everyone else.  This is exciting stuff!!!

It doesn't matter what season of life you are in or how old - it is never too early or too late to bring positive, healthy change into our lives. 

Next Post: Some common patterns in families that might not be so obvious.