Self-awareness is a major component of healthy family functioning because, the more people understand themselves, the easier it will be for them to get along with each other and interact positively. We’ve been led to believe that families are about order, control, hierarchy, respect, tradition and other words that put people in boxes rather than encourage them to be themselves and live joyfully. People in restrictive families are often asked to do things like:
- Keep secrets.
- Sublimate their own identity to fit the group.
- Follow rules, no matter how unreasonable or arbitrary.
- Be in constant conflict and call it love.
- Occasionally do nice things for each other.
- Have no effective problem-solving or conflict resolution mechanisms.
- Talk only about approved subjects.
- Blindly defer to people who may not know what they’re doing.
- Only express approved emotions.
- Negative behaviors are tolerated.
These types of actions are common in many families but don’t lead to celebrating individuals and helping them discover who they really are deep inside. When family members possess a high level of self-awareness they likely promote behaviors such as:
- Talking openly about difficult subjects.
- Building one’s own identify and being accepted.
- Worrying less about rules and more about critical thinking.
- Treating each other with kindness and empathy.
- Consistently doing nice things for each other.
- Understanding how to fix problems and resolve conflicts.
- All conversation topics are valid and important.
- Everyone is equal.
- All emotions are welcome.
- Positive behaviors are the norm.
There is a vast difference between the type of interactions that result from the first list and the second. The higher your level of self-awareness is, the more likely you are to move away from power and control to encouraging everyone to be his or her amazing self without restrictions or conditions. What will you do to improve your family functioning?