Dedicated to applying Bowen family systems theory to enhance health, growth & relationships

Community Resources

Ideas to assist in dealing with addictive patterns

Substance use or addictive behaviour may start as a way of feeling more independent — ultimately leading to more dependence and sensitivity to others

Focus on self responsibility

  • Rather than put all the focus on the addictive behaviour it may be helpful to focus on maintaining the best functioning possible in all parts of your life.
  • Examples of functioning or self management are: organizing adequate bedtime, eating healthily, exercising and relaxing, being responsible for appointments and medical care, fulfilling role responsibilities at work and in the household.

Ideas to assist family members of symptom bearers

Understanding relationship challenges and what you can do as a helpful resource to yourself and others

Focus on self and not the other

  • Rather than put all the focus on how to help the person you are concerned about, it is usually helpful to focus on maintaining your own responsibilities. Take care not to take over the responsibilities/functioning of the other. Over-functioning may contribute to an increased sense of helplessness, dependence or resistance in the other.
  • Consider the possibility that the more you monitor the other’s symptoms and make suggestions, the harder it becomes for the symptom bearer to make changes for themself.

 

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Ideas to assist in managing depressed mood

Managing self in relationships

  • Rather than put all the focus on lifting mood it may be helpful to focus on maintaining the best functioning possible. Examples of functioning or self management are: organising adequate bedtime, eating healthily, exercising and relaxing, being responsible for appointments and medical care, fulfilling role responsibilities at work and in the houshold.
  • Take care of allowing others to do any aspects of your life functioning for you. This may contribute to an increased sense of helplessness. Ask for help when you need it but if others are stepping in to manage areas of your responsibility, it may require you to ask them to step back from this. When depressed mood feels like it has drained all motivation and energy it is helpful to take responsibility for communicating to others what you are going through and to nominate what you will stay responsible for even when it may be limited.

 

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Separateness and Connection instead of Fusion or Cut off

Fusion:
  • Taking everything the other says personally. Reacting with attack, defence or hurt withdrawal.
  • Needing the other to agree with us all the time
  • Expecting the other to solve our problems or make us feel good
  • Wanting the other to take our side against people we have a conflict with
  • Mind reading the other. Completing their sentences. Interrupting. Assuming we know what they think.
  • Thinking more about the relationship than our own responsibilities

 

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Family Gatherings

Family gatherings are an excellent albeit sometimes difficult opportunity to learn about self.

In the following table you will find some tips we have found helpful in dealing with family gatherings.  We start with taking some steps to help us lessen our reactivity.  This allows us to observe how we are reacting.

 

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