Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Dysfunctional?

As my readers know by now, I counsel homeless and disadvantaged people for a local charity organization.  I have been doing this for two years now and I have talked with a lot of clients over that period of time.  I am not a psychologist so my main focus is on trying to find resources for the people I talk with.  But psychology comes with the territory.  People who need help ask questions and I feel that I have to help in any way I can.  So I use a technique called "active listening" to help them get to the route of their problem with the knowledge they possess inside.

The word dysfunctional has become something that many people seem to banter about to explain why they are the way they are.  "I come from a dysfunctional family" is a phrase I hear in nearly all my conversations with clients when they try to explain why they use alcohol or drugs to escape their current problems. While I am fairly certain they DO come from a dysfunctional family,  I have to ask, "Who doesn't?".  Families are inherently dysfunctional no matter how hard they try not to be.  We ALL come with a certain level of dysfunction.  I agree there are different levels of this, but basically their is dysfunction whenever two or more people get together in any kind of emotional relationship.  We may have like thinking, but we do not think alike.  Siblings who are brought up in the same environment often have totally different views on what that environment actually was.  It is all a matter of perception.  It is also a matter of choices that each individual makes.

Using past experiences to excuse or explain away a current situation is bogus.  Other people can influence us for sure, but ultimately we all make our own choices.  It is easy to blame our backgrounds for everything.  But, when all is said and done, we are the ones who choose for ourselves.  The choices we make are what truly shape our lives.  Others may influence us, of course, but bottom line we make our own choices.  Sometimes we choose not to make a choice at all, but even if we do that we have actually chosen not to choose.

It is only when we take responsibility fully for who we are right now that we can be free of the blame game.  Dysfunctional relationships?  Sure.  All their fault?  THAT I don't buy.  I come back to the word choice.  We choose to stay or go.  We choose to be happy or sad.  We choose to love or hate.  We are in charge of how we look at things.  The devil made me do it is just a way to avoid our own responsibility to shape our own destinies.  When we waste our time blaming our dysfunctional lives on others we are looking in the rearview mirror.  We are missing the brick wall straight ahead.  Who do we blame when we crash head on into that brick wall?  Our choice.

This is food for thought.  I don't pretend to have the answers.  This blog is subtitled "My Way of Thinking" for a reason.  I mean only to inspire you to take another look inside yourself.  If you begin with a choice to love, I guarantee you will be better prepared to face life as it IS.

                                             Peace and Love,




  1. Brilliant blog my friend. I have made good choices and I have made poor choices, and I have made really bad choices, but the choices were mine to make. I am not an expert either, and maybe some people are so damaged they have mental issues as a result that are so severe their choices are more difficult. For most of us, I would agree with you and your statements; yes, we do make the ultimate choice, and as you said, not to choose is still choosing. The only thing we CAN do is choose. Each day we face numerous choices, some easy, some difficult, some perhaps not even recognized, but WE are the ones choosing our own response, or lack thereof. Great food for thought. PS...not many people enjoy realizing they made a poor much easier to blame the parents, or the siblings or the boss etc. To do otherwise would be to admit that we are not perfect. Welcome to the real world! I blame no one but myself for the poor and bad choices I made; and also take credit for the good ones!

  2. Thank you Sandy! As usual, you got my message.

  3. Bill, You hit the nail on the head and relayed this message in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way. It is so true we make our own choices -- regardless of what "dysfunction" we've encountered. With addiction, many times a chemical imbalance is at work and people are self-medicating when they actually could be helped with medication. I know you're not a fan of medications and I'm certainly not a fan of over-medicating or doctors just throwing meds around for no reason, but they do have their benefits too.

    Oops - totally off topic!

    I always love your way of thinking and your insightful posts. They're like a breath of fresh air whenever I visit! :-)

    caregiving. family. advocacy.

  4. Thank you Trish. I haven't been writing a lot lately so it is especially gratifying to know that I still have readers. I am not completely against medications when they are truly effective. I just hate it when they are used as a band-aid or used as a lazy way to avoid an holistic approach.