When we have not practiced the skills of resiliency (see this article for a refresher on the concept) our perspective may need a major shift if we are going to get unstuck from the self-defeating patterns of fragility. This is more than just a psychological construct; it is also biblical. More on this later, but for now, let me say this: I believe that the faithful foundations of belief lived out on a daily basis look remarkably like resilience! With that in mind, let’s compare and contrast at-risk lifestyle perspectives that spring from unhealthy family systems versus the way resilient people operate in the world.
In unhealthy family systems, we are made to think we should know more than we do. “I am surprised you did not know that!” “How could you be so stupid?” “Everyone knows…” are examples of too high expectations with too low parental nurture and guidance.
A healthier perspective - which is appropriate for our entire lives - includes the humble reality that no one knows everything! There is always more to learn. This does not make us stupid or “less than” - it’s called the human condition. Out of this perspective we can become curious, inquisitive, have a sense of humor about our limitations, expect to make mistakes, on and on and on.
In sick family systems making a mistake can have dire consequences. In reasonably healthy families everyone makes mistakes, even the grown-ups. No big deal. This allows us to learn at an early age to take risks, helps us figure out how to assess risks and provides us with a better attitude when failures inevitably pop up.
In stressed out families, successes are either overly emphasized or ignored. In a shaming family, good is never good enough. In a family desperate for a win, maybe the family hero gets TOO much attention for the good they do and TOO much blame for their inevitable and completely appropriate mistakes. Healthy families celebrate large and small victories but without communicating that these victories are what holds the family together.
In summary - stressed out families are in such a crisis mode that they are not thoughtful about their responses to one another. Healthy families are thinking strategically; applying their core values consistently; feeling each event as it comes, not in a manic or depressed reaction to all the situations that surround that event.
Crisis management is not a good daily practice. Can you see ways that crisis management has not been helpful in your life? What changes could you make to give yourself wriggle room for a less chaotic life?