This was to be my path of Growth and Redemption for my own N Family of Origin
What does it mean to be differentiated from your family of origin?In a poorly differentiated family, the pressure for togetherness is strong.
Reduced emotional over-reactivity
The differentiated person reacts objectively instead of subjectively. The "button pushing" reactions which typify subjective and emotional over-reaction are less frequent.
A differentiated person understands the source of the emotional over-reactions and accepts differences between family members.
Resisting the urge to "correct" other family membersA differentiated person can accept differences in goals, values and beliefs between family members.
There is little need to encourage other family members to be the same. A differentiated person is able to accept different opinions and choices from other people. It is not necessary to triangle a third person into an alliance to "prove the other is wrong".
Being objective about parents and other family membersParents and other family members are neither upgraded to superstar status nor downgraded to worthlessness. A differentiated person has a realistic and objective view of them.
Being separate and together at the same timeA differentiated person is able to maintain a sense of self (individuality) whilst being in contact with the family of origin. This contact is characterized by observing more, reacting less and being objective.
The differentiated person maintains his or her own identity without disowning ties with the family of origin. He or she can step outside the family emotional system and observe the processes between other family members without feeling the urge to be a part of it.
Dealing with pressure to stay togetherAny move to differentiate is a disturbance to the equilibrium of the family’s emotional system. This equilibrium exists to minimize anxieties and tensions between family members (without actually doing anything to change them).
A differentiating person can disturb the equilibrium by acting in a way that is "not expected" by the family of origin. The family will feel anxiety from the differentiating person’s behavior. The differentiated person will face ostracism and criticism for being "in the wrong".
The family will pressure the differentiating person to conform and behave in a way that restores equilibrium.
Developing a person to person relationship with each parentInstead of relating to two people as a single entity, the differentiated person has separate relationships with each parent.
Developing a separate relationship with each parent allows the differentiating person to break out of triangles with parents. When talking alone with each parent, the differentiating person does not feel compelled to choose topics which involve other family members (particularly the other parent).
This allows the differentiating person to develop a one to one relationship with each parent. De-triangling.
If called upon to join a dispute, the differentiated person would maintain an objective stance and let the family members originally involved in a dispute handle their differences alone.
It is difficult for an undifferentiated person to observe a dispute between other family members without becoming involved. The undifferentiated person is easily triangle into forming an alliance with one of the disputing members.
Emotional cut-off is not differentiationA differentiated person is able to live his or her own life without having to be permanently cut off from the family of origin.
Some people mistakenly believe they are emotionally more mature because they have little or no contact with their original families. The cut-off approach allows them to avoid the emotionally charged situations that drove them to leave the family.
However they are no more mature than their counterparts back in the original family who have never left the family home because “ No- Contact / Black Sheep” continue to experience the same emotional over-reaction whenever they are in contact others in the community / at work that have the same character traits as are found in their first family.
Personal ResponsibilityThe differentiated person is responsible for self and not others; resisting overtures to take the blame for other family members’ misery or happiness.
A differentiated person does not defer important decisions to family members or seek the approval of a family member.