Stifling or Developing Healthy Identities

Stifling or Developing Healthy Identities

September Newsletter- Charity Simpson

The more I work with people at all stages of life, literally from ages 2 to 92, I realize how influential our early life experiences continue to be into adulthood. In both my personal and professional life, I have gradually come to realize how significantly our family of origins and early attachment figures shape us throughout the entire course of our lives. We frequently comment that children are like sponges; they absorb everything that goes on around them. This analogy rings true as I see how the behaviors, coping skills, and communication styles modeled in our early families re-emerge throughout our lifetimes, creating repeated patterns in our view of ourselves and interpersonal relationship dynamics.

As many attachment therapists believe and have pointed out, we all recreate our family of origin if we have not healed from them. For many of us, this takes quite a toll and we endure many broken relationships before we realize how pervasive these dynamics continue to be in our lives. What’s worse is that by the time we realize the work we need to do, not only do we have the residual pain and disappointment from unhealed wounds from the past, but most of us also struggle with feelings of guilt and shame for the ways in which we have internalized and at times perpetuated these dynamics ourselves. This is why it is so important for us as adults to be intentional about learning new ways of doing. If we are going to heal and perhaps forgive our past grievances, whether they be with another or ourselves, we must begin by practicing healthy intra- and inter-personal dynamics and ways of dealing with distress in the here and now.

Below are 8 characteristics (as well as alternative approaches) considered to be dysfunctional family rules that have been researched and identified in families with a chemically dependent parent. As you can see, these rules tend to stifle the development of children and have a lasting impact not only on the child’s sense of self but also their ability to have healthy relationships throughout their lives. No matter where you are in life, I hope you will join me in healing from the wounds of the past and bear these guidelines in mind as we all seek to be our very best selves.

Dysfunctional Family Rules
– It is NOT okay to talk about problems
– Feelings are NOT expressed openly
– INDIRECT communication: One person acts as a messenger between two others
– Unrealistic expectations: You MUST be strong, right, perfect…
– Do NOT be selfish, EVER
– Do as I say, NOT as I do
– It is NOT okay to play
– Do NOT rock the boat
Healthy Family Guidelines
– It is NORMAL to have problems and OKAY to talk about them
Feelings are NORMAL and need to be expressed
– DIRECT communication: Each person speaks directly to the other involved
– Realistic expectations: You ARE great just the way you are, with your own strengths and challenges
– It is OKAY to ask for and seek what you need
– I know you learn as much from watching me as hearing me so I will try to model what I want from you
– It is VITAL to play
– Conflict is a NORMAL part of any relationship and it is important to address it in open, honest, direct, and respectful ways

Aside from often feeling like a big kid myself, one of the reasons I love working with children is because I find that the principles guiding my work with them tend to be universal. This month’s quotes are intended for positive parenting. Try replacing “a child” with “another” and see if these might apply to some of your relationships. They certainly apply to mine.

A child seldom needs a good talking to as much as a good listening to.

Robert Brault

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

Ignacio Estrada

“Remember that the most important thing is not your child’s behavior. The most important thing is your child. Look beyond behavior and connect with your child”.

Issa Waters

Upcoming Groups

The counselors at Compass are constantly assessing the needs of our community in order to facilitate groups that speak to the lives of those we care about.

Coffee, Tea, and Codependency- Women
Group for women in their 20s-30s and group for women in their 40s+
8 weeks/$50 per meeting 
-20s and 30s group is starting Tuesdays at 7pm starting September 10th

-40s+ group is being formed
Facilitator: Charity Simpson
Ladies: Are you tired of feeling empty? Is your self-worth dependent on what people think of you? You’re not alone. “Coffee, Tea, and Codependency” provides a space where women in all stages of life can express their struggle and frustration without reprimand, and further develop skills to navigate such daily obstacles.

Challenges- Teens
Now forming for Fall 2019! $50/session
Facilitator: Charity Simpson
For teens experiencing difficulty with life transitions, struggling with making poor choices, as well as those with low self-esteem or social anxiety. “Challenges” will provide a space for your teen to share their experiences with peers with the guidance of a counselor specializing in adolescent/teen development and struggles.

Choices- Addiction, Anger, Recovery
Thursdays, 5:45pm, $60/session
Ongoing ASAM level 1 recovery group for persons dealing with substance abuse or problematic behaviors. State-approved DUI treatment program. The curriculum is designed to look at the root causes of substance abuse, anger, and more instead of merely addressing the symptoms. 

About Charity Simpson, MS, LAPC, NCC, MDiv

Charity is a collaborative, relational-oriented counselor who seeks to support individuals within their current context. She integrates humanistic, existential, and systems theories with cognitive, behavioral, and solution-focused techniques.

Charity seeks to work with clients to identify strengths, better utilize available resources, and work through challenges that pose obstacles to fulfilling life and relationships.

In addition to traditional talk therapy, Charity integrates practices of mindfulness and creative approaches such as art, music, experiential, sand tray, and play therapies.

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