4 Steps to Breaking Unhealthy Family Patterns in Long Island, NY

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As you read in the previous blog, we often get tangled into patterns that don’t serve us, especially if we’re trying to resolve something unconscious.

We repeat what we don’t repair, and we call it “fate”.

What’s really happening is that we actually own more power in the relationship dynamics we walk into, and are engaged with, but many times we don’t feel that power. Now, before we look at ways to heal your unhealthy patterns, here are some real-life examples of subtle yet powerful shifts that took place when individuals healed their unhealthy patterns and experienced the the joys that come along with change and inner work.

Cassandra - Empowerment + Confidence

Cassanda noticed a shift in her interactions with her boss as she began working on her sense of self worth. She noticed that her boss had recently begun honoring her input more and more. “When I spoke up instead of staying silent and said “no, I actually don’t think that’s a good idea based on our business statistics this past quarter” he actually listened to me and asked for more input. NO, he didn’t change overnight and I don’t think he suddenly began liking me, but it’s that he started picking up on my confidence I’ve been building, and my newfound power in my voice, and he’s been responding to that. It’s kind of shocking to see how my inner work really is helping me.

Sally - Adult Emotional Nurturance

Sally shares how she noticed her husband’s openness to her request for more attentiveness and affection as she began healing her inner neediness and desperation she’d had since she was a child. She used to reach for her husband from that young desperate, pleading child part, and her husband would get overwhelmed and often shut down, not knowing how to get his adult wife back “online”. However, since engaging in he own work {on her own and in therapy} her husband found himself more capable of giving Sally the love she requested. This was because it didn’t feel like a bottomless pit anymore, rather a valid request from one adult to another.

Daniel - Speaking Up + Finding Love

Daniel had been dating for years, getting into serious relationships that lasted a long time, only to find himself feeling trapped and abruptly ending each of them due to feeling suffocated. He had realized that in an early relationship he wasn’t allowed to speak up and say what he needed, so in his adult relationships he would be a “yes man” until it got unbearable, for he had no voice in sharing what it was that he really wanted from his partner. As he worked with that pattern, he was able to begin speaking up early in relationships without feeling frightened, and was pleasantly surprised that there was space for him to be who he was, fully. This allowed his relationships to move with more ease as he was able to say yes or no - ending relationships with integrity and at a respectful pace and not staying perpetually stuck in something that felt wrong. Over time, Daniel, as a more evolved man, settled into a relationship that felt right for him.

Debra- Setting Boundaries and Learning about Worthiness

Debra was always the one who picked up the pieces at social events. She was the party planner, the driver, the always-available-friend because she had such a big heart. But she landed up in therapy filled with rage. She realized that though her friends knew her for over ten years, they didn’t really see her, and know what she needed. As she began setting boundaries and saying no, some of her friends dropped to the wayside, and that came with a lot of grief and loss. However, the ones who stayed became relationships that deepened and were more balanced than they’d ever been before. Debra had been the family “savior” when mom’s moods would rage and she had only learned to be attuned to others. Learning to attune to herself is what finally allowed her to begin living and loving in new ways she’d never experienced before.

Family dysfunction is a fiery ball that gets passed down silently, yet wrecks havoc in each persons' life, until one brave, courageous person decides to put that ball to rest. That is no simple task, but the rewards  (8).png

Now, for some tips.

4 tips to heal unhealthy patterns.

1) Know your Patterns + Take Accountability

Each of us has a distinct pattern that’s been passed from one generation to the next. They get repeated until someone puts a magnifying glass to the un-health and chooses to heal the hurt. Knowing your pattern helps to identify when it comes up, so you’e not thrown for a loop. it also helps you take accountability and begin making shifts that can last in the long-run.

Is your pattern or belief about engaging with others from a place of unworthiness? Is it a fear {or reality} of not being respected? Is it about withholding or rejecting kindness because you’ve learned that each man looks out only for himself? When feeling out of control do you attempt to control or micro-manage someone in your life- be it your lover, your employee or your child? Or do you get passive and disengage when you need to address a stressor or conflict?

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Learn to differentiate current day reality from past fear, threat or worry that gets triggered.

There may be moments where you’re feeling grounded, confident and connected to your wise-adult-self, and other times where you feel like you’re spinning in anxiety, feeling insecure and frightened. In these moments, take time to help your body differentiate if you’e in real danger or if you’re being reminded of a past time when you felt this way {see blog on emotional flashbacks for more}.

When you do have moments like these, get curious about the belief beneath.

I’m worthless”, “I’m alone” “I’m unimportant” “I’m a failure”. Sometimes, beliefs come in the form of an emotional experience such as a strong feeling of guilt, shame, feeling invisible, or feeling angry but unable to express it.

By noticing the pattern + beliefs it stems from, you’ll be expanding your window of awareness so you can respond more appropriately to future scenario.

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2) Clarity on Family-Of-Origin + Identify Underlying Wounds

Skills and awareness only get you so far. Most often, there’s a reason the behavior that lies deeper, and you’ll want to come up with some clear understanding and narrative of what your family of origin was like.

What was it like growing up with those around you? What patterns did you pick up on, even if they were unspoken? What did you learn about yourself, about relationships, about love, about power, about sex, about religion and about money? We all learn about these things in one way or another and they impact our development and how we show up.

For example, you may become aware of the fact that you were ignored, and you had a lot to say but no one ever heard you. That may not seem “traumatic” but it is something that deeply impacted you, and may be related to why you may be in relationships with people who can’t really “hear you”, or don’t understand you, or why you don’t attempt to express yourself because you’re afraid of being ignored or misunderstood.

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You’ll need to heal the core belief and help that inner child re-learn that she’s allowed to speak and her voice is important. Only by addressing the underlying wound will you be able to shift the way you show up and interact in all areas of life.

By accessing the core beliefs and wounds, you’ll more likely create attainable and lasting change.

3) Heal Your Unmet Needs + Learn Skills so You Can Have Healthy Relationships

Most often, dysfunctional patterns and relationships stem from feelings of shame, abandonment, rejection, other painful and traumatic experiences. By engaging in good trauma-focused therapy { some scientific based methods are CBT, EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Expressive Arts, Parts work and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy} with a therapist who knows how to work with family-of-origin issues, you’ll help those parts learn to feel worthy and lovable- as this will allow you to engage in stable, loving and healthy relationships; possibly for the first time.

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This is so important because until you resolve your unmet emotional needs and until you heal your emotional wounds, you will continue to seek healing from friends or partners who are simply unable to give you that stability and love.

In doing this work, it’ll also be important for you to learn new relationship skills.

Learning new relationship skills is a big part of family of origin and trauma healing because you may need to re-learn how to engage and interact with others. In therapy, you’ll address relationship patterns as that is large part of treatment As well, if you’d like to learn on your own, you can get some latest communication skills books from your library or amazon and learn about regulating emotions as well as practicing self care and boundaries. These are foundational aspects of healthy adult relationships.

4) Practice Patience & Kindness to Yourself

With all of this being said, I need to highlight the fact that you’re the one who will be doing the hard work, and it’s vital to acknowledge that change take a lot of mental energy and emotional stamina. Remember, you cannot and will not change long-standing patterns overnight. There will be days where you notice progress and days where you’re grieving as you notice what you’ve lost out on and how hard you’re having to work. It’s ok, and all part of the healing process.

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Be gentle with yourself as you do this work, as you learn new skills, gain more insight and uncover who you are beneath all of this. You will keep evolving and growing as long as you go at a steady but slow pace and trust in your healing capacities.

You can change, starting right now!

Wherever you are on your journey of life, and whatever changes your’e wanting to create in work, love, family or within yourself, remember that change is something that is constant; and your abilities to heal and change are just as constant when you’re focusing on exactly that!

If you’re looking for one-on-one support, we are here to help. At integrative psychotherapy we utilize trauma informed therapy methods including EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, parts work, expressive arts and psychodynamic psychotherapy. All our methods are scientific based and we individualize a treatment plan for each client based on their unique needs.

If you’re ready to dive in, reach out today! Schedule your free 15 minute consultation below.