It never ceases to amaze me how on certain weeks most of my clients come in with the same “story”. And it’s not so much that each of their stories is the same, but our conversations are the same, there’s a running “theme”. 18 out of 20 people this past week talked about narratives we have inherited from our family of origin! That’s more than just coincidence no? I get I am the common factor in all these discussions, but I don’t necessarily direct the traffic in our sessions and I find this fascinating.
As I mentioned, this week’s theme was about how we sometimes get caught up in our family of origin narratives. By this I mean most of us at some point realize we are repeating what we saw our parents do/say/think (who typically repeated what their parents did, and so on). Whether we silence ourselves, whether we don’t talk about money, whether we believe a script we were handed about our very own potential, whether we have been handed values that as grown ups don’t seem to mesh with what we really want… whether it’s our understanding of gender roles, how to raise children, alternatives to staying in unhealthy relationships.. all this was formed long ago and we are not always aware that this is what drives our decision making.
That is, until we start therapy – where the primary job is in fact to develop an observing self. Developing an observing self means taking the time to reflect on our reactions and our choices. Are they fear driven? Are they habit? Do you remember where you learned them? What informs your decision-making?
There was once a story about a family who always made a huge ham for Christmas. It was part of the process for them to split the ham in two and bake it that way. One year, one of the family members asked why they cut the ham in half at all, and no one among the many cooks: aunts, sisters, cousins and mom could answer. So they looked into it. Turns out that back a hundred years ago, the small oven could only accommodate half a ham!! So it was borne out of necessity to the environment and circumstance at the time. And up until now, no one ever questioned it –even though the size of ovens had changed dramatically and could accommodate a whole ham! But for two generations, the cooks in the family just went along and never questioned this practice. This is a great example of a family narrative unexplored.
What’s yours? What stories that you grew up with inform your choices? Worth a thought …
Peace to you.