Our parents are our first and greatest teachers. They are our first introduction to the world and all of our experiences. As children, we are blank slates and have no experiences with which to compare and evaluate anything. It is natural to model ourselves after our first teachers.
But what if your beliefs as an adult differ from that of your family? This can generate turmoil both within the self and in the family dynamic.
Differentiation relates to ones susceptibility to group pressure and influence. The less susceptible to the pressure of others, the higher an individual’s differentiation level.
As adults, we grow, explore and develop our own beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes this journey of self-discovery can be difficult, thinking or being different than that which we grew up with, or even believed most of our lives.
And this doesn’t just relate to the family dynamic, but our immediate culture and environment. It could be political, cultural expectations, or religious communities with which you realize just don’t fit any longer.
How does one differentiate, essentially discovering and holding onto your own core beliefs and values?
Here are a few tips:
Explore and question the actions of others and the world around you. Develop an inner dialogue: Does this serve me? Does this make me happy or stress me out? Is this appropriate? Reflect on your feelings and initial responses.
Encourage yourself, developing self-esteem for holding your own. Center and ground yourself whenever you make a choice contrary and possibly disappointing to someone in your life.
Find others to support you. This could be friends, family members, a coach, teammate or a therapist.
Develop and articulate your values and boundaries. If you’re clear about what is important to you, you’ll be able to call upon and reinforce it when pressured.
Notice when you feel uncomfortable or resentful. Discomfort or resentment can be a sign that trying to fit in with someone’s agenda, neglecting your own values.
Remember, everyone is on a path of development and growth until our very last day on earth. We are all doing the best that we can at this time, even you.
Especially because Mother’s Day is nearly here, lets take time to reflect on and appreciate all that our mothers have done for us; and also appreciate our family, how they influenced and helped us grow into becoming ourselves, differentiated in our own individual potential.