I remember a statement that one of my teachers would make when I was an undergraduate. He would frequently say, "When you are married you are not one, but you are not two". I never exactly knew what he meant by the statement, but vaguely understood his comment. I was married at the time and was trying to figure out how to be both. After graduate school I had another teacher that would say, "The biggest challenge in life is being an individual in a group". At the time I had some vague idea of what that meant also, but didn't realize how powerful and profound were her words. I am still working on that also, with the realization that this is not an issue to resolve, but one to manage. It is not always easy being ourselves. Frank Sinatra, in is his famous song "My Way". asks the question, "What is a man, what has he got? If not himself he has naught. He later states that he took the "blows".. There are always consequences for our actions. If we are not our own true individual self, there are internal emotional consequences of being deadened inside and lifeless, or maybe even anxious or depressed. If we are "truly"ourselves, tell the truth and are assertive, there are consequences for that as well. In my own experience, and for many of the clients I have worked with throughout the years as a therapist, I have observed repeated struggles that individuals experience as they face challenges related to being themselves, to be honest, truthful, and transparent. There always seems to be pressure and expectations by the world that we conform. And when we don't conform, we may not always be treated so well. When psychologists talk about families they often mention two catagories. The first is "enmeshed". A family that is enmeshed has poor personal boundaries. Individual boundaries may be non-existent or blurred. It does not allow much space for family members to have their own opinions, or sense of independence and individuality. In does not encourage family members to have separate opinions, and a sense of separateness from each other. At the opposite extreme, "Disengaged Families", may tend to be emotionally cold, aloof, and distant from each other. In a healthy family or marriage there are personal boundaries. Ideally there is some permeability or flexibility within those boundaries, however the boundaries are in place, and it allows for each person to be celebrated and respected as an individual. Each person is valued, and their sense of separateness is valued. They are shown respect, even if their opinions are different from others in the family. Of course there is no perfect family, but some are much healthier than others. In these healthier families, there is a sense of "Differentiation", that is permitted within the group. The group may consist of two, (which we might identify as a dyad) or an entire family. Conflict will still occur, however, because of the respect that is shown to each person in the couple or family, conflicts are dealt with more effectively, and the repair and healing of conflicts develop emotional closeness. What makes for the healing that occurs after conflicts is the respect that is shown by individuals both during the conflict, and during those times when there is no conflict.
Individuation a Necessity for Health and Happiness
Click here to view and print forms for your appointment.Click Here