Going to the Emotional Gym

Dear Andrea,I came across you website and wanted some help with this situation:

What ideas do you have about reentering a cutoff part of my family? (I have cutoff from this side of the family for around 10 years).

What are the pit-falls to be on the look out for?

How do I do it and maintain my self?

Is there a healthy way knowing that I have changed, but the reasons for my leaving the system are really still there?

Has such a chapter has been written by any one yet in the field of family systems. Many thanks,“x”

Hi there glad to give you a few ideas.First, there is a book on cut off.My favorite chapter is by Priscilla Friesen. Emotional Cutoff: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspectives (Haworth Marriage and the Family) (Haworth Marriage and the Family) by Peter Titelman Yes, it is $62 dollars..

Also you may think about getting some to coach you. I will give you more information if you decide to go in this direction.

I can only give you general ideas as I am not able to coach people on e mail whom I do not know.

A recently story on bridging cut off and the impact on functioning is about Justine Henin who just won the US OPEN. She had to wait for her brother to be in a near fatal car accident for the path way to open to reconnect with her family.


In general cut offs are indicators of generations of side taking and deep beliefs in right and wrong, and it all unfolds as someone will be blamed.

People get isolated to protect self from harm or energy going in the wrong direction. It all can make rational sense but emotionally too much of avoiding the difficult people makes us weak.

At the extreme differences are not at all tolerated. Cut off leads to serious problems. At a milder level cut off functions to give people space to be “different.”

You can hear people rationalize cutting off when someone say things like: P People in my family are jerks. It is easier to talk to the people I sit next to on the bus.

Marriages make for a new drawing of loyalty lines. This is often the time when people cut off from the family of origin.

Again, it can seem rational but it goes in the direction of decreasing your flexibility. If you are willing to take on the slings and arrows of stillness from others then you are ready to reenter your family.

The main thing is you need to have a realistic plan and to get in and get out of a negative emotional system without trying to achieve too much. Think of going to an emotional gym.

You get a coach, find out how much to lift agree to keep practicing and then you go home and relax.

If you do begin by trying to relate to some of the more difficult people in your family on the phone, then you might say something that sets an immediate limit. I have five minutes to talk.

If the call gets negative or too intense then just say I will call back later when I am calmer.

Take responsibility for your part in getting out and let the person know you will be back. You never say negative things like: you, you, you are the reason I have to hang up leave etc..

You just let the people know in some way, I will be back because I will always be working on my relationship with you as I care deeply, even when we disagree.

I usually go back to reconnect with family members, with the intention to build my emotional backbone.Often my goal is to get to know more about someone in the family I have heard about but know little about at a personal level.

Often the history of relationships is stuck in the past. For example, my great aunt was upset with me as my great grandmother was not positive about her daughter.

It can take years of relate at a low key level before you can establish a more genuine relationship. When it happens you will know you are no longer seen as a shadow of the past family relationships.

But to get there you have to be aware of the past prejudices and take nothing personal.

It is hard to recover from taking on the verbal projections that people put on anyone who tries to reconnect. When anyone reconnects others can and do get upset. The pattern has been broken and people are dealing with the unexpected.

My question is- How do you keep from not reacting to others and relate at a more genuine level? Hope that helps..