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How Our Family Dynamics Affect Us

Energetically we are very connected to the families we live with and grew up with. Even if we’ve separated ourselves by space, time and emotional distance, we still share an energetic bond with our family. Their thoughts, emotions and behaviors affect us, and vice versa. Our family dynamics and how we relate to our families can play an important role in our addictions and mental health issues.

When we experience conflict in our families that we aren’t able to resolve, we have a tendency to suppress our emotions, bottle them up and stuff them deep down within us. This can be highly damaging to our mental and emotional health, not to mention to the spiritual connection we share with our family. Family dynamics can play an important role in how we address our conflict and work through it.

Abuse is one family dynamic that can be especially traumatic, but there are various ways in which a family’s dynamics can be unhealthy. Sometimes certain members of the family can be dominating, causing others to feel silenced. Sometimes the family’s default way of handling conflict is to sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. Sometimes families choose never to discuss anything difficult, including the painful emotions underlying and surrounding conflict.

When we don’t have safe, comfortable, open ways of communicating, many of us direct our emotions to our addictions, the self-destructive outlets we find for our pain. We don’t feel we can be ourselves within our families. We don’t feel like we can speak freely, voice our concerns or express our emotions. We feel unsafe, uncomfortable, rejected. We don’t feel heard or understood. When we feel this way with people we are close to, our family and loved ones, this pain can feel especially overwhelming. These are the people with whom we would most want to feel safe and loved. To dull the pain, we turn to our addictions in order to self-medicate. We try to avoid the pain by avoiding our family members. We stop talking to them. We distance ourselves. We even cut ties completely. All the things we suppressed and were never able to express can become emotional blocks within us, causing all kinds of mental and emotional difficulties. Our addictions can very often be the manifestations of our unresolved family pain.

Treatment at Riverside includes family therapy and family workshops to help you work through these difficult family dynamics. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.