The Gordian Knot Part 1.

Cant see the wood for the trees.

Cant see the big picture.

Too close to the problem.

I need to step back and get some perspective.


I found when you are enmeshed in a dysfunctional family every spare bit of thinking time, and head space you have available, can end up being spent dealing with the endless flow of new problems that seem to constantly erode your ability to make any real progress. its a little like standing under a waterfall.

A dysfunctional family can, and will, produce enough problems to keep you constantly occupied. There will rarely be an opportunity to look up from the insoluble frustrations that have become your responsibility to manage.

Sometimes you feel it would be easier to deal with, if only you could step back far enough and see what’s going on, but you just don’t seem to ever have the time, or head space to do this. Its really difficult to be clear about what is happening as there are so many things going on simultaneously, and your view of what is happening is substantially affected by the way you have been brought up within the dysfunctional family system.

In pre "light-bulb" moment time any, some, or all of the following may have been true.

  1. You have been trying to deal with the problems arising from your dysfunctional family - you have used a range of strategies to try to cope with this / them, they have not been successful. You find yourself constantly "handling" things.
  2. You are in a state of hyper vigilance where you constantly analyse what’s going on around you - your families reactions to everything need to be anticipated before you can act. There rarely, if ever, seems to be a correct solution to anything. 
  3. You find it increasingly difficult to make decisions.
  4. You are walking a tightrope of anxiety,  trying to balance all of the needs imposed upon you to produce the best solution. 
  5. Often your own personality and needs are subsumed by the need to keep others happy and from reacting adversely.
  6. You are suspicious that there may be a better way of doing this but in-spite of all the different ways of dealing with all the types of problem you don’t seem to have found one which stops the endless generation of new problems. 
  7. You have started to look for solutions from outside your family and for ways to change yourself to improve the current situation. You may be reading self help books, or looking for Internet sites - looking at ways perhaps to be more assertive. 
  8. You know all families have problems but you are increasingly uncomfortable about what seems to be the endless depth and breadth of yours.
  9. You are upset and beating yourself up. You are probably made to feel that many of the problems are your fault - yet no matter how little or how much you do. How much you try to change , engage or even withdraw, the problems continue to come. You are in a constant state of stress, the only variation is how much stress you are under.
  10. You indulge in distraction behaviours which may involve an element of self harm. For example: you may have disordered eating habits, your drinking may not be at a level you are comfortable with. You may use drugs. Perhaps you may have small self soothing acts you perform like cutting, hair pulling, dermatillomania, nail-biting. You may shop secretively or horde odd items. You are spending what feels like a huge amount of energy trying to control your environment and experiences.
  11. You may have a selection of seemingly irrational fears of new situations or experiences, particularly relating to situations where you will not feel able to control your environment.
  12. You cannot accept praise or compliments and are always the first to put yourself down, often before anybody else has the chance to say anything. 
  13. You suffer from impostor syndrome - a surety that whatever position you have gained is not done so through merit and that it will be taken away from you shortly, because someone will notice how bad you are at it.
  14. You frequently suffer from cognitive dissonance - for instance: although you may be able to think of no bad acts you have performed you will be certain you are intrinsically a bad person.
  15. You will happily forgive other people for all kinds of acts and yet you will not forgive yourself for the same, nor will you expect to be forgiven by others.
  16. If You are asked what you want you will often ask other people what they want before stating anything.
  17. You will regard most questions as the start of a negotiation rather than an interested enquiry.
  18. If you should disagree with someone you will agonise over it for days as you will eventually be able see their point of view and often realise you were wrong.
  19. You frequently apologise for things said in past conversations no-one else remembers having.
  20. You would be embarrassed to be "caught" looking after your own physical or emotional welfare.