Do you come from a “dysfunctional family?”

Did you ever realize that your family was not as normal or your upbringing as happy and healthy as you thought until you move out of home? Do you seem to lack self-esteem and self-confidence? Are you full of fear and anxiety? Are you always withdrawn and socially isolated? Do you often feel lonely and have difficulties expressing your feelings? If yes, then you probably grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Many ideas, emotions, experiences, and memories come to mind when we hear the words “dysfunctional family.” Probably you have heard of people talking about growing up in homes where they knew they would move out just as soon as they could. Many people are living in dysfunctional settings – and they don’t realize or admit it. (It often takes an outsider to help these people realize and acknowledge the problems of their dysfunctional upbringing and do something about it.)

No family is perfect. You do not get to choose the family you are born into or are raised in. If you happen to grow up in a dysfunctional family, your family’s dysfunctions will shape and dictate your life – or you can seek help and healing for those wounds and live the life and create the family you wish to have.

Know that your past need not define your future

Realize that your future need not be dictated by your past, your joy and happiness by your family’s dysfunctions. Now that you have grown older and are living your own life, know that you can be safe. You have managed to break free and are now in a new place, so seek someone who can help you to be healed and become your true self. Recognize how far you have come and now ask God to start your healing process.

Be free to be honest with what you feel

As you heal, you will become free to notice, value, and attend to your own feelings. You will no longer need to suppress your feelings, numb yourself, and distract yourself from your emotions. You will no longer need to fear sadness and shame, or need someone to validate your feelings. As you heal, you will become aware of how you feel and tell yourself that your feelings matter. You will come to realize the value of your feelings and get in touch with your true self.

Share your feelings and experiences

You should not keep your feelings and experiences to yourself. You will need to find someone to whom you can express your feelings and experiences or you will not be able to move on. Find some trusted person who would want to help you. Find a trusted adult in whom you can confide your struggles. Do not continue to suffer in silence. Find a person whom you can trust and let them be part of your life, healing and recovery. When you share your thoughts and feelings with a trustworthy person, you break down the feelings of shame, isolation, and loneliness from which you have suffered all your life.

Turn to Jesus

Is the strictness of your family’s religious experience the source of your hurt and unhappiness, your unresolved bitterness and anger? Religion should never be used to hurt and confuse others, especially children. So, seek not religion but a personal relationship with Jesus who is full of love, hope, grace, and compassion. Turn to prayer and scripture, and offer all the pain and your life to Jesus to carry to the cross for you. Jesus comes to you full of grace and understanding, and ask Him to fill you with his peace and forgiveness. Now take his forgiveness and give it to those who had hurt or wronged you terribly. Tell them, “I forgive you with the forgiveness of Jesus”, and then move forward.

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