Choose to be a warrior during the holidays and always.

We all have our own distinct story and define “dysfunction” in our own way, as it impacts each of us differently. Whatever the dysfunction is and to whatever extent, letting it have power over you and sustain control over your life is taking away from the meaningful life you could be living.

Who ever said that the only way to learn appropriate behavior, what our needs are, and how to embody self-love and self-compassion is by it being appropriately modeled to us? Sometimes we learn by observing how we don’t want to be.

We can make the choice as an adult to develop our growth mindset and decide whether we see ourselves as a victim or as a warrior. Warriors ultimately overcome, cope, and thrive. Having gratitude for your dysfunctional family will help cultivate a growth mindset whereby you are thinking, feeling, and behaving like a warrior.

12 Reasons to Have Gratitude for Your Dysfunctional Family

Thanks to your dysfunctional family, you:

  1. Learned by example. You have poignant examples of what you didn’t like and what you don’t want to repeat within your own life;
  2. Got in touch with anger and resentment earlier on and realize that blame doesn’t create change and action, rather, taking personal responsibility and adapting an action plan is a whole lot more effective for creating personal growth;
  3. Noticed that you’re more than your past and that it’s part of you but doesn’t define you unless you allow it to;
  4. Recognized cycles and patterns of behaviors that were destructive and hurtful and recognize that you have the power to put an end to these cycles and patterns in the present and future;
  5. Got an early education about your coping skills and how they appropriately and effectively served you and how you may still be relying on them even if you no longer need to;
  6. Realized how it’s counterproductive to compare yourself to others. You see that people you perceived as being better off than you in the past may be compromised now and people who you perceived as being the same or worse off in your past may be successful. That as humans our lives ebb and flow and there’s always room for growth and change;
  7. Learned deep empathy and compassion for others because of personally understanding human adversity, resilience, and the human condition;
  8. Gained insight on what direction you want to take toward your future in regard to relationships, career, and family choices;
  9. Discovered your foundational needs and understanding about what your bottom line is. That is, what you absolutely need in your life and what you can do without and leave behind;
  10. Appreciate how incredibly resilient you are. You went from gravitating between states of confusion and self-blame to a state of enlightenment and relief because you realize that you weren’t ever to blame and couldn’t do any better, in fact, you were just a defenseless kid doing a good job surviving and coping with all that was going on around you;
  11. Had exposure to imperfect people early in life so you learn to tolerate yours and other individuals’ imperfections and recognize the difference between imperfect qualities and characteristics that you can live with and those you need to live without, and
  12. Are a step ahead in understanding how to set appropriate boundaries and assert your needs with others so that you’re empowered, respected, and are acting and interacting based on your core values and from a place of personal integrity.

Consider having immense gratitude for your upbringing and “dysfunctional” family and truly appreciate all that you have experienced because it cultivated you into the person you currently are. This is not to say that at times you won’t get triggered and feel sad and disappointed about the past; you undoubtedly will. It’s bound to get evoked, especially during the holidays, when family is “supposed” to provide you with streams of joy and support.

You can feel sad and disappointed while simultaneously feeling gratitude and still act on behalf of who you currently are and who you still want to be. Tap into your inner warrior that is present inside all of us.

To heal and make progress, you need to connect with gratitude and appreciate being just as you are. At your core, you are truly loving, caring, and lovable. There are very good reasons to have gratitude for your dysfunctional family; your knowledge, insight, and emotional intelligence are priceless attributes.

Listen to my Working Through Anger and Irritability Guided Meditation and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel for others.   

Blog as posted in Psychology Today.