How to Stop Trying to Figure Out Your Family

By Laura K. Connell.

Many of my clients have a limiting belief that holds them back in their healing, and it’s one you might share.

It’s the belief that you must figure out your family and why they treated you the way they did. Then everything will make sense and you’ll be able to move on from the pain.

Of course, this damaging belief only keeps you stuck in a loop of dependence on people who will never help you get where you want in life.

Even when you’re independent from them physically and financially, you still feel tied to them mentally in that you can’t separate yourself from their influence or opinion of you. 

Ways you try to figure out your family:

  • Excusing abuse and neglect due to their own childhood trauma
  • Claiming they had your best interests in mind
  • Wondering if you did something wrong
  • Wondering why they appeared to love your sibling more than you
  • Blaming financial considerations (ie., overwork) on your neglect

These are common energy suckers among survivors of childhood trauma. They keep you focused externally instead of working on yourself and your own healing.

It doesn’t matter why your family didn’t know how to love you or appeared to love someone else more. As long as you keep the focus on them, you prevent the self-healing that requires a journey within.

Basing your worth or gauging your progress on what someone else thinks of you is an example of codependency. And when we grow up in a toxic family home, trying to figure out your family can feel like a necessary step toward understanding yourself.

Instead, the opposite is true.

Letting go of the need to figure out your family and what motivated them to abuse or neglect you is the key to freedom. This is very different than condoning their behavior.

Breakthroughs come with my clients when they realize there’s no way to figure out your family. I work primarily with family scapegoats who were often the only “sane” members of their families.

Scapegoats are targeted for their desire to uncover the truth and display honest emotions. Dysfunctional families see such truth-telling as a threat of exposure and launch a campaign to discredit the scapegoat.

Turning the Gaze Within

How is it possible to make sense of such behavior when it’s based on a desire to suppress anything honest and true? I tell clients they’re better off not understanding these people because that might make you “insane” as well.

Your precious time and energy are better spent turning your gaze on yourself and away from your toxic family. Make it your mission to give up the idea that you can figure out your family and their motivations.

It’s not important why they did what they did. It had nothing to do with you and everything to do with preserving a toxic family system that may go back generations.

It’s not your job to save your family and they’re not interested in healing, anyway. Your healing journey benefits you and the generations that come after you.

Your job is to release the ties that bind you to your family’s dysfunction. You do that by breaking free from the lifetime of conditioning that gave your family power over you and your happiness.

Your peace is not dependent on whether you understand your family, or they understand you. It’s dependent on you looking within for your sense of self-worth and core values instead of wasting precious energy trying to make sense of nonsensical and harmful dynamics.

Laura K. Connell is a trauma-informed author & coach who helps her clients recover from the devastating impact of dysfunctional family trauma. Take the Dysfunctional Family Roles quiz here:

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