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Author Topic: The Problem with Change  (Read 7050 times)
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« on: October 30, 2010, 09:45:48 AM »

The Problem with Change

by John R. Mazurek, MSW


Source: www.jrmazurek.com/ProblemwithChange.html

The problem with change is that it is uncomfortable. At first glance I suppose it is the unknown that accompanies change that makes it uncomfortable. If you do not change, while it may be boring or unpleasant, at least you know what is going to happen, and you know that you can handle it because you have been handling it. If you make a change, you can never really be sure what is going to happen next, that you can handle it, or that you will want to handle the consequences. However, as I look beyond this first glance, it seems to me that the bigger problem with change is not the unpredictable, but something very predictable. One of my clients, years ago, dubbed this problem the change-change-back routine. Murray Bowen, MD, who developed Bowen Family Systems Theory said we can expect those affected by our changes to have a three step reaction: "(1) 'You are wrong,' or some version of that; (2) 'Change back,' which can be communicated in many different ways; and (3) 'If you do not, these are the consequences.'" (1978, p. 495) Despite what the affected person may say, his or her reaction does not really tell you that your change is either good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate. This effort to change you back is an automatic, emotional, without rational thought effort by the person your change has affected to maintain homeostasis, to reestablish an acceptable level of anxiety in the system. That acceptable level of anxiety would be no more or less anxiety than had existed shortly before you made your change. (Bowen believed that there is always a certain amount of anxiety present in every system.)

A system is defined in Bowen Family Systems Theory as a collection of individuals that live, work, play, or exist together deliberately or accidentally. The theory considers such a collection of people a system because those individuals affect one another directly and indirectly, knowingly and unknowingly. The more intense the emotional connection between the various members of a system, the more intense the effects each member will have on the others. If you have just fallen in love and your lover is not able to be with you tonight as you had hoped, you are apt to be greatly affected--you may become very sad and lonely, you may become angry or feel rejected, you may worry about the physical state of your lover or about the state of your new relationship. The emotional connection between a couple newly in love is very intense, and what happens to one has an immediate and intense impact on the emotional state of the other. That emotional connection between people is what creates the predictable problem with change. You have a much less intense relationship with the person who prepares and sells you your morning coffee at the local coffee shop, unless you have been having fantasies, positive or negative, about that person for the last several months. When you hear that that server isn't on the job today, it does not have the same impact on you as hearing that your new lover isn't available. There is no problem with changing who prepares your morning coffee at the local coffee shop.

This reaction to a change by another in your system who is affected by your change will occur without exception, it is predictable. If you make a change and do not witness an effort to change you back, either you have made a change that did not affect anyone in you system, or no one in your system is yet aware of your change. The effort to get you to change back may come in the form of the affected person simply saying, "What were you thinking of? You can't do that!" They may imply or say, "Something terrible is going to happen if you persist." Or, at the other extreme, the affected person may disown you. I know one person whose response to someone making a change that affects him is to make a point of ignoring the changer rather than say anything to him or her. In that way, he simultaneously lets the changer 1) know that he or she has made a change he does not want to have to deal with and 2) experience the terrible consequences of being ignored--similar to disowning him or her.

Regardless of how the affected individual reacts, the theory says that when this change-change-back routine happens, you have two obvious choices: you can either fold or hold. You can say, "I'm sorry. How thoughtless of me. I'll change back immediately." Bowen Family Systems Theory notes that if you change back in the face of pressure from the affected, usually, you will feel relief immediately because the affected stops trying to pressure you to change back. However, your relief is not likely to last very long, just until you realize that you gave up a part of yourself, a change that was important to you. If your initial change was very important to you, you will probably feel its loss immediately. With other, less important initial changes, you may not notice the importance of what you gave up right away. While some people will bring a sack lunch to work everyday and save their lunch money, others may not notice right away the impact that going out to lunch everyday has on their child's college fund or on what they have to invest for their own retirement. However, when you become aware of the consequences of giving up too much of yourself, you are very apt to become depressed unless you either find a way to correct the loss or go into denial. (Of course, denial does not really rid you of depression. It just interferes with your awareness of it.) Another consequence of changing back in response to pressure from those affected by your initial change is that you will undermine your own confidence in your ability to make changes, to stand up for yourself, to make reasonable or good decisions for yourself. Also, those affected by your change-change-back learn that you are easily swayed, that if they push on you a little bit, they can get you to do whatever they want. The combination of your depression and lack of confidence along with the increased confidence of those you gave into make it very difficult for you to stick with changes you might consider in the future. If you repeatedly fold in the face of pressure to change you back, those combined consequences eventually can make it difficult for you to even think about making a change. Think of the parent who always gives into the wishes of the child of whatever age. Eventually, that parent comes to believe that he or she can do nothing about the child's behavior.

This idea of giving up self becomes tricky when you consider that in all relationships there are circumstances under which it is acceptable, sometimes even necessary to give up some of yourself. You may not mind sitting on hard bleachers for two or more hours to hear you child perform for a few minutes in an all school music concert, or you may take your spouse to your least favorite restaurant which just happens to be your spouse's favorite to celebrate his or her birthday. You might be less inclined to do either of these activities if they involved someone else; but in a relationship system with your child or your spouse, you may not feel you are giving up too much of yourself. Then again, perhaps it is that what you are giving up is justified or compensated for in your mind by the benefits you receive from what you give up or from the pleasures that the other person experiences from your selflessness. In such situations, I would not consider your behavior as folding or giving up who you are in response to pressure from others to change you back. You simply made a decision about what is important to you.

Your second choice in the face of your system's effort to change you back is to hold your position. This is done not by fighting or digging your heals in and refusing to consider anything that the affected may say to you. Such behavior would be defensive. Instead, you need only say quite calmly, not defensively (After all, despite what it may sound like, you are not being attacked personally. The affected person is only reacting automatically to your change.), "I'm sorry that you're upset, but this is what I choose to do." Such a statement will not immediately calm the other down; indeed, it may result in the other increasing his or her efforts to get you to change back. If you are able to maintain your change calmly, Bowen Family Systems Theory says that eventually the affected one will stop hassling you. However, "eventually" can be anything from a minute to years, even generations.

The theory does not attempt to explain the motives for this change-change-back routine. However, I suspect that it occurs because when you make a change that affects someone in your system, they then must also change. Some benefit that they used to gain from you behaving in the old way is no longer available to them, and they must either give up that benefit or find some other way to get it. The problem with change is within the system. So, while the affected person may have wanted you to make the change that you did, they did not want to change too. I knew a man who had tried for a year to convince his wife that she should make a particular change, but when she did, her change affected how she related to him, which had been his stated goal all along. Nonetheless, he immediately tried to change her back. His efforts to change her back were predictable and purely emotional.

Keep in mind that one person in your system is always affected by any change that you make. That person is you. I believe the self doubts that we often experience when we make a deliberate or conscious change are part of the change-change-back routine. Whatever the old behavior was, it was familiar. It was predictable. Any conscious change that we make causes us to temporarily give that familiarity up, as noted earlier, and that loss will result in our feeling uncomfortable until we can adjust to the change. I find that the most effective way to get through this problem with change regardless of whether the pressure to change back comes from ourselves or from others is to have rationally considered the available facts regarding maintaining the status quo and changing and also being aware of the change-change-back routine.

Reference:

Bowen, Murray. (1978). Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. New York: Jason Aronson
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 05:50:07 PM by Harri » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2011, 06:18:43 AM »

 1)This effort to change you back is an automatic, emotional, without rational thought effort by the person your change has affected to maintain homeostasis, to reestablish an acceptable level of anxiety in the system. That acceptable level of anxiety would be no more or less anxiety than had existed shortly before you made your change. (Bowen believed that there is always a certain amount of anxiety present in every system.)
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2011, 04:11:12 PM »

Interesting read. Does this relate back to Bowen Therapy? Btw, is Bowen Therapy any good?
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2019, 03:20:50 AM »

What a great article on how family systems are affected by one person changing their role.  Not only does it affect other people in the family/system but we will also have to struggle with changes in ourself and the consequences of us changing.   

I know we talk about this all the time on the parent, Sibling and In-law board and a lot of this is a repeat for some of us, but I wanted to highlight a couple of points.

Excerpt
Your second choice in the face of your system's effort to change you back is to hold your position. This is done not by fighting or digging your heals in and refusing to consider anything that the affected may say to you. Such behavior would be defensive. Instead, you need only say quite calmly, not defensively (After all, despite what it may sound like, you are not being attacked personally. The affected person is only reacting automatically to your change.), "I'm sorry that you're upset, but this is what I choose to do." Such a statement will not immediately calm the other down; indeed, it may result in the other increasing his or her efforts to get you to change back. If you are able to maintain your change calmly, Bowen Family Systems Theory says that eventually the affected one will stop hassling you. However, "eventually" can be anything from a minute to years, even generations.

Being defensive, digging our heels in and being defiant only increases the conflict and makes it harder for the other to accept that we are serious and resolved.  When we first start making change, especially after a lifetime of staying within the system and following the rules, it will be hard to do this calmly but I think it is vital.  It may, however, take some practice to get to the point where we can do this without some degree of defensiveness at least internally.  The goal however, is to be calm and accepting of the other persons right to react in whatever way they choose and knowing that there will be a reaction.  We can't change this for them or control it. 

Another big part of this is accepting that there will be consequences for our choice.  Consequences we will have to deal with.  None of this is easy or comfortable.  We will have an external struggle with others as well as an internal struggle with our Self. 

Thoughts?
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2019, 07:26:28 AM »

Hi Harri,

This is an interesting read, thank you for bringing it into the spotlight. It fits into some things I am currently struggling with.  My focus in the article is different from yours though, so I hope you don’t mind me chipping in. Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
I know one person whose response to someone making a change that affects him is to make a point of ignoring the changer rather than say anything to him or her. In that way, he simultaneously lets the changer 1) know that he or she has made a change he does not want to have to deal with and 2) experience the terrible consequences of being ignored--similar to disowning him or her
I think this kind-of sums up my current situation. Funny how this still feels like being punished.  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post) It is interesting though to see this as a part of the Bowen Family System dynamics. It removes some of the sting and adds some logic to it.

Excerpt
if you change back in the face of pressure from the affected, usually, you will feel relief immediately because the affected stops trying to pressure you to change back. However, your relief is not likely to last very long, just until you realize that you gave up a part of yourself, a change that was important to you.
I need to keep this in mind more actively. The temporary relief after changing back is not a solution. Keeping your stance and pushing through the discomfort is far more rewarding in the long run.

Excerpt
Some benefit that they used to gain from you behaving in the old way is no longer available to them, and they must either give up that benefit or find some other way to get it.
Ouch. This may be what is happening when my mother consciously bypasses me and goes directly to D10.

Excerpt
I believe the self-doubts that we often experience when we make a deliberate or conscious change are part of the change-change-back routine
Okay. That doesn’t help me much though. My self-doubt is still alive and kicking!

Excerpt
Another big part of this is accepting that there will be consequences for our choice.  Consequences we will have to deal with.  None of this is easy or comfortable.  We will have an external struggle with others as well as an internal struggle with our Self.
Absolutely spot-on. This is what is holding me back.I have been avoiding real boundaries – and thus change – for as long as I have been on these boards. I will need to teach myself some new tricks and face the consequences. I don’t think I can do this alone. What scares me most is not the reaction of my FOO, but the incomprehension my children will probably have.

Sorry, I’m rambling. I simply wanted to share what springs out to me in the article.

Thank you.

With affection (click to insert in post)
Libra.
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2019, 12:24:43 PM »

Hi Libra!   Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

Quote from:  Libra
My focus in the article is different from yours though, so I hope you don’t mind me chipping in.
Of course I don't mind.  I have no real plan for the discussion here.  I just thought it was interesting to see a lot of the things we talk about in one cohesive article that discusses not just dysfunctional family dynamics but also relates it to the 'normal' concepts of family system that Bowen Theory often talks about.

Quote from:  Libra
It is interesting though to see this as a part of the Bowen Family System dynamics. It removes some of the sting and adds some logic to it.
I agree.  For me it helps to know that a certain degree of this dynamic is to be expected and is typical and common.  Unfortunately BPD traits knocks the dysfunction up several notches at least.

Quote from:  Libra
I will need to teach myself some new tricks and face the consequences. I don’t think I can do this alone. What scares me most is not the reaction of my FOO, but the incomprehension my children will probably have.
What do you mean when you say you can't do this alone?  As for how to explain to the kids, I wonder if posting a question on the co-parents board may help.  There are many parents, step-parents who have to navigate how to respond to kids and explain to them posting there and they give out some great advice.  Even reading there may help.

Thank you for responding Libra.   
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2020, 05:39:08 PM »

I moved this here (PSI) temporarily, so we can discuss the article.  The article is based on Bowen's Family System Theory which we refer to a lot here, especially on this board.

There are several of us struggling with the issue of changing our role in the family and then having to deal with other family members, in addition to our pwBPD, and how they react and respond to us.

Let's talk about it.
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2020, 10:57:31 PM »

I find this article to be incredibly relevant to what is happening in my family. Not only are my husband and I changing our roles, we are having my MIL make changes as well.

Excerpt
. The more intense the emotional connection between the various members of a system, the more intense the effects each member will have on the others.

Excerpt
  "(1) 'You are wrong,' or some version of that; (2) 'Change back,' which can be communicated in many different ways; and (3) 'If you do not, these are the consequences.'" (

I guess this is what can make codependency and enmeshment so complicated. You make a change and the person with BPD is going to have their chaotic reaction. You typically have your set responses, so even those moments of dysregulation are predictable. Changing your reaction, throws the whole system off balance.

But when your role in the relationship is to be the stabilizer, it is hard hold firm when you see that your choices perpetuate chaos on some level.

For us, we saw all three of the above on a loop that hasn't stopped. We thought it was us asking for space, but I think I am starting to believe that the change that triggered all these reactions was actually us getting married. It didn't matter that our daily routine was the same- she anticipated what our marriage would mean and she became like a self fulfilling prophecy. She created the environment she feared the most.

Excerpt
Despite what the affected person may say, his or her reaction does not really tell you that your change is either good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate. This effort to change you back is an automatic, emotional, without rational thought effort by the person your change has affected to maintain homeostasis, to reestablish an acceptable level of anxiety in the system.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I always found it interesting that my MIL often talks about her abusive past and how she wants peace and calm now. And yet, it often feels like we are being provoked into creating a turbulent household that is familiar to her.

The change can even be something my MIL asks for. Like how she asked for space and her house back. But then she feels uncomfortable and does everything possible to return things to the way they were before.

So the responsibility returns to us. It doesn't matter that she even asked. We have to hold firm in the idea that we need space.

Excerpt
  Instead, you need only say quite calmly, not defensively (After all, despite what it may sound like, you are not being attacked personally. The affected person is only reacting automatically to your change.), "I'm sorry that you're upset, but this is what I choose to do." Such a statement will not immediately calm the other down; indeed, it may result in the other increasing his or her efforts to get you to change back. If you are able to maintain your change calmly, Bowen Family Systems Theory says that eventually the affected one will stop hassling you. However, "eventually" can be anything from a minute to years, even generations.

And this is what makes it all so hard. You make a change and you never really know if the affected person will be able to cope or what the consequences will be.

As the people who have maintained stability, you have to be so sure of your choice and the potential consequences. You have to build yourself up and remember that you are worthy of a life that helps you feel whole. Trying to fill up a person who cannot fill themselves up just drains you of everything you have. It doesn't work.
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2020, 11:12:36 PM »

One key takeaway I got from Bowen family systems theory is that the family system adjusts to protect itself; that is,  it adjusts to maintain the status quo, the level of comfort and least conflict. So of course the system will adjust to punish those who resist. I'll not say "the rebels" because Bowen says that rebels are not well differentiated.

I ran into this reporting my then D2's possible molestation by a teenage uncle. D2 (a month from turning 3) was cast as a liar, and I was cast as the likely abuser. This was by a family which had a history of hiding DV, including lying to CPS about it.... In order to protect the family dysfunctional dynamic.
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2020, 06:24:30 AM »

In my FOO, my BPD mother is the center and other family members serve to be of service to her and protect her. The family secret is to not reveal anything about her behavior that isn't complimentary to her, and saying otherwise would be punished.

Her FOO is a part of it. They tell me how wonderful she is. So do her friends. It's so odd to hear people praise her so much. It's not that she doesn't have her good qualities, but these statements are out of proportion - I think many people would feel uncomfortable being praised so much for regular everyday things but she seems to crave it and people in her circle comply.

I broke the secrecy when my father was ill. His medical team thought he was going home to his sweet wife who would take care of him. This is the picture they presented to them. However, what they don't know is that my mother's BPD is so severe, she's not capable of doing that. She doesn't cook, she doesn't do household tasks, and her immediate family members are expected to take care of her needs, not the other way around. I wanted to have additional help for him at home.

The reaction from my parents for exposing my mother was anger and eventually being alienated by her circle, her FOO. It was out of proportion for the intent- I was concerned for his well being. However, if the FOO system was to protect her, then the reaction was to then invalidate me to others.


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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2020, 09:56:15 AM »

Excerpt
Think of the parent who always gives into the wishes of the child of whatever age. Eventually, that parent comes to believe that he or she can do nothing about the child's behavior.

For us: Think of the CHILD who always gives into the wishes of the PARENT of whatever age. Eventually, that CHILD comes to believe that he or she can do nothing about the PARENT’S behavior.
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2020, 09:57:21 AM »

Quote from:  Spindle
It didn't matter that our daily routine was the same- she anticipated what our marriage would mean and she became like a self fulfilling prophecy. She created the environment she feared the most.
Yes!  I think this can happen to a lot of people not just pwBPD.  Our fears, biases and expectations can often drive our reactionary behaviors and even some of our 'reasoned and well planned' responses.  We are emotional beings.  Given that pwBPD have problems with emotional regulation, it is going to be even more difficult for them and they may not be able to regulate their fear.  

Quote from:  Spindle
And this is what makes it all so hard. You make a change and you never really know if the affected person will be able to cope or what the consequences will be.
As the people who have maintained stability, you have to be so sure of your choice and the potential consequences. You have to build yourself up and remember that you are worthy of a life that helps you feel whole. Trying to fill up a person who cannot fill themselves up just drains you of everything you have. It doesn't work.
Yes again!  Being prepared for any consequence also means knowing that we can handle whatever reaction that may happen. It means working through our own fears and biases and making sure we have appropriate expectations given the challenges/limitations that some people may have.  

What you said about trying to fill up another person is very significant for those of us struggling with separation as well.  We have to know our own limits.  I don't mean tolerance limits so much as having boundaries for our own behaviors.  Not getting into enabling and rescuing, not feeling another persons feelings for them, etc.

Quote from:  Turkish
The family system adjusts to protect itself; that is,  it adjusts to maintain the status quo,
Exactly.  The part I really like about this article is how it talks about how we do this too.  Our own reactions, fears, inability to tolerate emotional discomfort is a huge part of our struggle to change and separate.  Just knowing that is a normal part of the process helped me.  I would tell myself this is a temporary feeling and I will get better at dealing with it and I did.

Quote from:  Turkish
I'll not say "the rebels" because Bowen says that rebels are not well differentiated.
Yes!  Thanks especially for mentioning this!  It was a humbling realization that often saying "I am not like them" was a sign that I was still very much enmeshed.   For me, it meant I was still identifying who I was based on my family.  Alike or not alike, the tie was still there.  

Quote from:  Notwendy
The reaction from my parents for exposing my mother was anger and eventually being alienated by her circle, her FOO. It was out of proportion for the intent- I was concerned for his well being. However, if the FOO system was to protect her, then the reaction was to then invalidate me to others.
Yes.  Every time you write about this I think your experience is such a clear example of how this 'change back or else' thing works.  It is incredibly painful even when you know what the possible consequences are, even more so because you had your fathers well being in mind.   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 09:19:35 AM »

Harri, I am so glad you posted this article when you did. I haven't been able to get it out of my head and I think it has helped clarify some of what has been happening with my MIL and her FOO.

The 'change- change back' concept is really interesting to me, specifically this domino effect that it has created.

Having my MIL move out disrupted homeostasis on all levels, especially with her FOO. Our change, this boundary that my husband and I have established and are now implementing, is forcing my MIL to make changes with how she interacts with the larger group. The larger group does not know what to do with this. To them she is the "strong one" and the "peacekeeper" and this is not how she usually behaves. So they do everything in their power to get her to 'change back' which forces her to do everything to get us to 'change back.'

But we are not changing back, so no one knows what to do or how to behave. I suspect that some form of punishment or blame is coming for my husband and I!


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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2020, 12:33:21 PM »

"The problem with change is that is uncomfortable."
Many of my dysfunctional family members have died leading very limited lives because they refused to change,. to examine their roles in making themselves unhappy. One of my aunts died without having any friends. This was part of what made me decide to go to therapy and work on myself many years ago. I realized that I was extremely immature compared to most adults because of what I had modeled for me as how to be, and I told my therapist I needed to grow up. My therapist was a Bowen therapist and she worked with me on differentiation, becoming a person in my own right, seeing myself as worthy of love, and how to not take on all the negative projections that were dumped on me.
"The problem with change is that is uncomfortable" does not begin to describe how painful and difficult it is for people who have been traumatized as children to first face all the pain and sorrow, and then make major positive changes in their view of themselves and others. First the difficult feelings must be faced, and some people are so overwhelmed by trauma that they cannot ever face the pain. I think we have many members who remain stuck because of this, while at the same time we have many courageous members who are doing/have done the work they need to, to change themselves for the better, and to accept that in most cases that their dysfunctional family members will never change. Bowen was a real pioneer in recognizing that differentiation from the family of origin was key to becoming a mature adult. I believe that Skip once wrote something along the lines that differentiation is they key task for many of our members.  
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2020, 01:08:47 PM »

Excerpt
"The problem with change is that is uncomfortable" does not begin to describe how painful and difficult it is for people who have been traumatized as children to first face all the pain and sorrow, and then make major positive changes in their view of themselves and others.

This is very profound. I’ve been reading a great book - Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life that is surprisingly relevant to many of the issues discussed here.

One thing that is inspiring for me, from reading this book, is that whatever problem has brought us to the point of addressing our pain and suffering, should be appreciated (as opposed to leaving it in the unconsciousness, where it drives repeating the same patterns of thought and action).

For most of us, we go out of our way to not feel uncomfortable, but by being brave, and facing our pain and suffering, we are given the opportunity to experience life on a deeper, more meaningful level. Seeing that there is a significant positive aspect to pain and suffering has really shifted my thinking and feelings.
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2020, 02:47:09 AM »

Spindle, I am glad the article resonated with you.  Have you seen this before?  https://thebowencenter.org/theory/ 

Quote from:  Spindle
But we are not changing back, so no one knows what to do or how to behave. I suspect that some form of punishment or blame is coming for my husband and I!
There will be blow back. Expect it and realize it is all a natural part of the necessary changes you are making.  Maybe instead of looking at whatever happens as punishment, try to reframe it as a natural consequence of the hard work you are doing and a sign that you have indeed made changes?  I hate punishments!  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)  My sarcastic and warped humor would kick in and I would think "Oh, I am being spanked!"  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

Quote from:  zachira
Bowen was a real pioneer in recognizing that differentiation from the family of origin was key to becoming a mature adult.
Yep.   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)   

Quote from:  zachira
"The problem with change is that is uncomfortable" does not begin to describe how painful and difficult it is for people who have been traumatized as children to first face all the pain and sorrow, and then make major positive changes in their view of themselves and others
Yes, the process we have to go through to heal is pretty complex.  It can be overwhelming when I think of everything that needs to be tackled so I would take one behavior, one thought at a time and just keep moving forward. 

Quote from:  Person2
One thing that is inspiring for me, from reading this book, is that whatever problem has brought us to the point of addressing our pain and suffering, should be appreciated (as opposed to leaving it in the unconsciousness, where it drives repeating the same patterns of thought and action).
Good point and so relevant for us here.  I used to visualize pushing a thought or a memory away, kicking at it and crushing it down as I felt shame to remember some of the abuse and the conditioned choices I made all in an effort to escape feeling uncomfortable as talked about in the article and elaborated on by zachira.  So many times I did that, for an additional 10 years at least until I finally stopped fighting it and realized I could get off the dang hamster wheel.

Quote from:  Person2
Seeing that there is a significant positive aspect to pain and suffering has really shifted my thinking and feelings.
Me too.  While I would rather not to have had the experiences I had, I'll be damned if they count for nothing.  I will find the positive and the joy that is within me. 
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2020, 12:35:12 PM »

Spindle:
Excerpt
I always found it interesting that my MIL often talks about her abusive past and how she wants peace and calm now. And yet, it often feels like we are being provoked into creating a turbulent household that is familiar to her.

Bingo!  This is my mom exactly.  My previous counsellor explained it perfectly.  My mom grew up with extreme abuse and fear for personal safety (from her father).  There reportedly was no love in the home.  She wasn't allowed friends.  Her mother died when she was 14.  Chaos was the only thing she knew.  It was her "normal", or her comfort zone so to speak.  Unfortunately she developed BPD.
 So in her adult life, when life was going along  smoothly (i.e. no chaos), she was outside her comfort zone, and would provoke chaos to get back into her own "normal" comfort zone.  Does that make sense?

Excerpt
Trying to fill up a person who cannot fill themselves up just drains you of everything you have.

Yes yes yes.  ...because they have never self-differentiated right? (I'm asking)  This is what self-differentiation means?  Perhaps this would explain the copycat behavior, and why my mom wants my hairdresser, my dentist, my friends, her sister's oak kitchen (copied exactly), or why she waits until everyone else orders off the menu, and then orders the same thing, or more recently...she was opposed to getting a bath bench for her tub (and also opposed to every other community support after her fall and subsequent fractures) until she found out her best friend had a bath bench, and then she wanted the same one.  I am assuming these are examples of non-self-differentiation...  Does a lack of self-differentiation explain why she has said she "feels so empty" at different periods in her life, and why so many BPD's use that expression of "feeling empty inside"?

Notwendy:
Excerpt
The reaction from my parents for exposing my mother was anger and eventually being alienated by her circle, her FOO. It was out of proportion for the intent- I was concerned for his well being. However, if the FOO system was to protect her, then the reaction was to then invalidate me to others.


This would have been so hard for you Notwendy, after disclosing the truth to the doctor in order to hope for better care for your father.  In situations like this, we must have a such a strong sense of self to keep knowing and believing we did the right thing for the right reasons, in the face of so much "push back" from FOO.  Your FOO system works as a unit to protect your mom, and the whole unit it against you.  That is a lot of power for the unit.  But you did the right thing to speak up on behalf of your dad.  Silence and complacency allows bad things to continue happening (history has shown us that), and your good heart and conscience couldn't allow you to remain silent.  That takes immense courage to do what you did.  Good on you.  In my case, I am an only child and have suffered my mom's BPD in silence.  I have not shared any of my stories with any of her family (they all live far away).  I now realize the silver lining in my isolation with her, is that I took away the opportunity for the rest of them to defend her against me (which I know they would do). While I was always "lonely as an only", you have helped me to realize it wasn't all bad in the end.

Harri:
Excerpt
Being prepared for any consequence also means knowing that we can handle whatever reaction that may happen.

Holy.  "Knowing we can handle whatever reaction may happen" is a mouthful.  I feel like I am in the process of "learning"  I can do this!  Four-six months ago, I was so emotionally terrified of  uBPD mom that I "was not in a good place to be prepared for any consequence".  However, LC, educating myself about BPD, processing everything, and time, have all been healing, and I now have more confidence that I could handle whatever reaction may happen.

This is a really helpful thread.  Thanks for posting the article Harri.

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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2020, 11:33:09 AM »

I’m glad I hopped over to this board for the first time. I am active in the Child board but this is a very important article. We parents of kids w/BPD seem to struggle horrifically with this change procedure. My pwBPD lives with my and when I “change” the push back is so toxic, abusive, and out of control that it’s almost impossible to accept. I believe that’s why change is so difficult.
For example, my T said don’t make DD’s breakfast anymore before she goes to work. My thought was I’ll do just about anything to send her on her way to work for the day.
When I told DD I would not make her breakfast anymore she cussed, raged, slammed doors, scared the dog, ran out of house late to work, got donuts (spiking her jacked up blood sugar) which set her off for a horrible day working in child care.
This was just a tiny example of me making a change then second guessing it bc the fall out knocked me down for days.
I then become angry about how dangerously reactive my LO is to my change. I’m thinking “ok yes be a little ticked off that I’m not making a healthy breakfast, roll your eyes, huff. I can tolerate that, but I can’t tolerate the crazy nuts response”
Thanks for listening and thoughts are appreciated!
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2020, 08:34:18 PM »

 Welcome new member (click to insert in post) Methuen

I am glad the article is helping.  It seemed like several of us at least would be able to relate, I know I can.

Quote from:  Methuen
Holy.  "Knowing we can handle whatever reaction may happen" is a mouthful.  I feel like I am in the process of "learning"  I can do this!  Four-six months ago, I was so emotionally terrified of  uBPD mom that I "was not in a good place to be prepared for any consequence"
Yes.  It is good that you can recognize that you were not in a good place before to accept the consequences and yet you still persistent in healing and trying to change!   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I remember when I finally realized that my mom was not the big scary powerful person I thought she was.  One day it suddenly hit me that she was small and almost fragile.  I've not come to see her as a small child though I now some people see their moms or pwBPD that way.  It was freeing yet devastating at the same time when I realized how much power I gave her and how long I let it continue for.  It was hard for me to accept and took a long time for me to work through my anger with myself.

Excerpt
However, LC, educating myself about BPD, processing everything, and time, have all been healing, and I now have more confidence that I could handle whatever reaction may happen.
Exactly and well done!  We will survive.  We already survived the worst when we knew far less and had far fewer options and far less power.

Peacemom!  It is good to see you here.   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  

Quote from:  Peacemom
For example, my T said don’t make DD’s breakfast ... My thought was I’ll do just about anything to send her on her way to work for the day.
When I told DD ... she cussed, raged, slammed doors, scared the dog, ran out of house late to work, got donuts (spiking her jacked up blood sugar) which set her off for a horrible day working in child care.
This was just a tiny example of me making a change then second guessing it bc the fall out knocked me down for days.
Ugh.  Change is hard not just for them but because of the consequences for us as well, you are right.  

The thing is, when we change and set boundaries or change how we interact the value of our doing so is not determined by our pwBPDs reaction to the changes.  It is so hard to hold onto that though isn't it?  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)  They are not going to react or respond well.  No one does even people without a disorder so pwBPD are really going to struggle and push back.  The biggest challenge is managing our own distress.  

So... are you making breakfast for your daughter still?  Do you prepare yourself before and after and if you do, how so?

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2020, 08:48:23 PM »

Hi Harri,
You guys over on this board seem to really dig in to the deep psychological stuff. On our board we seem to be repairing the plane while it’s in the air -one crisis after another!

I did stop making her breakfast, but I’m not even sure that it was a critical step for me. My T is really trying to help me do less and establish boundaries. She has been running out the door late for work and then stopping for fast food, this is her decision and if it leaves her unhealthy for a full days work, that’s on her.

Reading the article reinforces for me how confident I must be in my decision to make a change. Once I become dogmatic about it, I suppose I toughen up and prepare for the rage, slamming, cussing and abuse. I can leave the house or even call police if I need to. I liken this to telling an abuser “No” and being further abused. Thankfully, there is no physical abuse-just verbal.
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2020, 10:00:31 PM »

Excerpt
She has been running out the door late for work and then stopping for fast food, this is her decision and if it leaves her unhealthy for a full days work, that’s on her.

In other words, natural consequences. 

Anyone can learn to cook cereal... you don't even need to cook it, nor cook fruit or yogurt.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2020, 10:33:49 PM »

Hi peacemom.

Excerpt
You guys over on this board seem to really dig in to the deep psychological stuff. On our board we seem to be repairing the plane while it’s in the air -one crisis after another!
Each board is different and a lot of what you are dealing with on son/daughter are pretty intense, well here too but different.  I think there is a lot of overlap between the two boards though each can hurt to read.

Turkish, 'cooking' cereal is my favorite although I have been known to grab a box of Kashi cinnamon crunch and munch on those right out of the box.  Delicious.  Smiling (click to insert in post) 

Quote from:  peacemom
I did stop making her breakfast, but I’m not even sure that it was a critical step for me. My T is really trying to help me do less and establish boundaries. She has been running out the door late for work and then stopping for fast food, this is her decision and if it leaves her unhealthy for a full days work, that’s on her.
So it is more practice with setting boundaries and stepping back from doing things for her then?  Do you feel more confident with the 'no breakfast' rule? 

Excerpt
Reading the article reinforces for me how confident I must be in my decision to make a change. Once I become dogmatic about it, I suppose I toughen up and prepare for the rage, slamming, cussing and abuse. I can leave the house or even call police if I need to. I liken this to telling an abuser “No” and being further abused. Thankfully, there is no physical abuse-just verbal.
I don't think there is such a thing as just verbal abuse.   Virtual hug (click to insert in post)  Words hurt and the emotions that go along with the words can bring a person to their knees.  I know you have your hands full and are dealing with a lot.  What are you doing to help yourself deal with the verbal abuse?  What do you say?  What does your T recommend?
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2020, 06:51:21 AM »

Turkish,
She’s actually a great cook. It’s a time management issue at its core. I believe it would fall under the plan ahead, cope ahead skill in DBT. Since she was very small (a sickly orphan we adopted) we’ve noticed how healthy food eaten every 3 hours really helps her stability. She’s never been diagnosed with some type of blood sugar disorder but that’s what I’ve always suspected. It comes down to lack of self care on her part, but again this is her choice.

Harri,
I can’t say I feel relieved about the breakfast thing but it’s just one tiny example of me taking away some supportive things I regularly do for her to ensure she gets to work. She’s desperate to move out and spends all of her time calling apartments and trying to figure out how to afford one on her very small salary. We are not discouraging her but trying to advise her on realistic budgeting. Sometimes she rages back sometimes she seems to listen. When she screams I tiptoe away quietly. I avoid riding in cars with her bc she may go off on a toxic tirade inches from my ear. This is very triggering for me and can literally shut me down “freeze mode” for hours.

I did a FOO Pia Mellody weekend trauma intensive and learned more about my need to protect myself (my younger self). It all comes back to that with my boundaries.

Thanks for listening!
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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2020, 10:43:04 AM »


Your second choice in the face of your system's effort to change you back is to hold your position. This is done not by fighting or digging your heels in and refusing to consider anything that the affected may say to you. Such behavior would be defensive. Instead, you need only say quite calmly, not defensively (After all, despite what it may sound like, you are not being attacked personally. The affected person is only reacting automatically to your change.), "I'm sorry that you're upset, but this is what I choose to do."
I finally feel that I have made some headway to not react emotionally badly in this area. It is small headway and my knee-jerk reaction is always defensive...but I want to acknowledge even small progress. The larger progress comes from the duration of my NC as it has blown my mind as to what I ever thought possible. And  I have certaintly shocked my family with shaking up our status-quo and standing up for myself.


Such a statement will not immediately calm the other down; indeed, it may result in the other increasing his or her efforts to get you to change back. If you are able to maintain your change calmly, Bowen Family Systems Theory says that eventually the affected one will stop hassling you. However, "eventually" can be anything from a minute to years, even generations.
I do worry about the circling back nature of change. For the time being I think I have warded off being hasseld as I have communicated my boundary (again) (non-defensively). And I have been rewarded by up front communications by 2 of my siblings and an acceptance of my boundary. My sister will be coming over for a visit, she has been warmly replying to my texts and I am looking forward to it.

Anxiety makes me think it could just be a short reprieve and in a short time I will be hasseled to "Change Back."


 I find that the most effective way to get through this problem with change regardless of whether the pressure to change back comes from ourselves or from others is to have rationally considered the available facts regarding maintaining the status quo and changing and also being aware of the change-change-back routine.

So.....the awareness. (Which I am understanding has been paramount to everything I have been doing this last year) perhaps that will be enough to continue to hold because I  know how to "rationally considered the available facts." And tbh I had no clue how to do that before.

Great article. Thank you!


Reference:

Bowen, Murray. (1978). Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. New York: Jason Aronson
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 12:53:17 PM by Harri, Reason: corrected quote attribution » Logged
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