If you want to change, science is on your side. Outlining the advantages and disadvantages of your goals, wishes, dreams and hopes leads to the best outcomes. This is the evidence from the body of scientific data. The process of evaluating your goals and dreams compels you to become more aware of the challenges you may face. This mental exercise can be a clarifying one allowing you to weigh the risks and benefits and to see if it is worth the effort to begin the process to change. But what if there are emotional forces blocking the way to achieve your goals?
Freud’s work reveals that a person could discover a great deal about self by doing an analysis of early memories and dreams in the presence of nonjudgmental analysts. One of his important and lasting contributions to psychoanalysis is his outline of the predictable steps a two-person relationship follows. There is a hypothesis that a person is limited by the very nature of the way we are fixated in our relationships with one another. However, Dr. Bowen brought to light that family therapy, a person learning to manage his or her self in their family of origin, takes half as many years as the resolution of a neurosis in analysis. In addition family therapy lead to new knowledge of behavior which has implications for sustained benefits to those seeking to enhance any type of performance.
If you want to investigate the role of the family relationship system then begin by taking a careful three generation family history. What you will find are the emotional footprints left by members of your family across the sands of time.
The three generation family diagram is done by learning the how, what, when and where important events occurred. Historical events bring up questions about where people have lived and are living now, how people went to school, have married, had their children, received their education, and performed their work? Identifying who in the family had and has symptoms (illness, divorce, poor functioning) and when and how intense they are? Clusters of symptoms often point to unresolved attachments or the level of interdependencies in the family.
It usually takes about an hour to get one person’s view of the family history and you will discover that each family member usually has a different memory about the same event. Once you have an idea about the multigenerational history next decide whom you want to get to know in your family. If you want to achieve greater flexibility then it is important to pick a balance of easy and difficult people. If your goal is to change yourself then getting to know your family can be an adventure that enable you to learn about emotional neutrality.
The way I did it was to decide that I would pick the older people in the family first. I would pick the ones I liked and had a natural affinity for and then I would work on dealing with the people who were more of a challenge. All of these people were capable of helping me become less serious about the way I thought. I put each nuclear family on a separate piece of paper and as able to learn a bit about the history of each.
Some people say that the maternal line is more important emotionally to one’s ability to change and that siblings are less important than the older generation. Theoretically the maternal line represents the importance of the maternal bonding in the early years. Overall the goal is to get to know all of the living members of one’s family and to be as neutral as possible about the ones you love and the difficult ones. In this way one is slowly changing the way one thinks and behaves in relationship to important others. This is a big challenge.
What is a lovelock? One answer is that it is the accumulation of non-verbal and verbal signals to go along with others. The challenge to being a self occurs because we are all sensitive to being loved and getting the right amount of approval. It is difficult to know where one stands if you look at the face of your mother and she winces as you speak. It is difficult to go into an emotional system and say to people how you are different on this or that issue. The lovelock assures us that people will pay some price to be nice in order to be trusted and close to us. There are many signals that are sent that say agree, be nice or get out.
There are a thousand and one techniques that one can learn to separate out a self and still stay in touch with people who send such signals automatically without thinking. Most people have no idea that they are sending the out the “be nice” signal. Many tricks are involved in separating out a more autonomous self. Some involve not looking directly at people. Maintaining eye contact can create a loss of ability to think for self. Being able to make contact by asking questions is another method that may work. If the overall goal is to maintain one’s own ideas while learning who other people really are then the learning of techniques or methods to manage emotionality will go on and on. Each time one achieves a bit more individuality there are a few more people who may want to drag you back into the lovelock. If you get out too fast then people will reject you for being too difficult. If you do not react to the rejection then they will usually take you back into the system. However, there are times where one has no choice, when one has to have the internal strength to stand alone outside the force of the lovelock.