How To Identify Hidden Disfunction In Your Life
Do you have the nagging suspicion that you’re accepting dysfunction in your life? Here’s a little self-reflection activity to see how you can bring more peace into the tough spots.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m in this metaphorical cocoon – like I’m deep in the belly of another metamorphosis.
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In my home life, I’ve been going through some deeply personal evolutions. I’m letting go, grieving openly, pursuing peace, seeking joy and – more importantly – giving myself permission to ride this thing out.
As I shift my focus to this fresh healing journey, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting. How did I get here? What exactly isn’t working? And how do I move forward with intention to change it? How do I create something more nourishing and compassionate, while still maintaining the fierce sense of purpose I feel deep inside my heart?
But it seems, each time I go through this process, I’m brought to one big question: Have I really been functioning at my best, or was I only accessing part of my potential?
And the answer is usually the same: I’ve been on this journey for a long time, but there’s still more work to do.
What Have You Accepted As Normal?
When I come to the realization that I haven’t been accessing the full potential of joy, purpose and happiness in my life, I usually shift into a period of self-reflection. I slow down, take a look around and start asking the hard questions.
If you’ve been feeling the same way as me – confused, lost, off, in a funk, or even emotionally battered – then it might be time to recalibrate.
I like to start with an overview. What have I been accepting as a “normal” amount of stress, fear, anger, abuse, etc., that just isn’t normal?
I find that, when it comes time to ask myself this question, I’ve already been normalizing some amount of dysfunction in my life. Some things I used to think were normal, or “not that big of a deal,” suddenly start to feel wrong, painful or exhausting.
Especially when you’ve developed the ability to remain high-functioning amid dysfunction, it’s easy to start accepting abusive or unhealthy circumstances. Strength, at times, can even skew your ability to see things clearly. That’s why it’s so important to stop and intentionally look at your life through a lens that hasn’t been affected by trauma.
Identify the Hidden dysfunction You’re Living With
So let’s take inventory together. Read through this list, and see what jumps out at you. What do you have a gut reaction to? What immediately pops into your head as you consider each one? That will lead you to wherever you’ve been accepting hidden dysfunction. So take a look:
Your relationship with yourself
Your inner voice of criticism
Your relationship with the world (i.e. The world is inherently bad, hard, cruel, etc.)
Your relationship with your community
Your spirituality and belief in a higher power
Your emotional state and level of irritability
Your reactions to stress, conflict or over-stimulation
Your relationship with harmful emotions (i.e. fear, anger, sadness or anxiety)
Your ability to create positive emotional experiences (i.e. trust, forgiveness, compassion, etc.)
Your physical health
Your relationship with food and exercise
Your reliance on substances, vices and addictions of all kinds
Your relationship with your body and self-esteem
Your mind-body connection
Your relationships with others, especially your family and loved ones
Your roles as a wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, etc.
Your friendships and their impact on your life and mindset
Your relationship with co-workers, employees, employers and professional partners
Your work performance
Your ability to create success in your career
Your fear of failure or success
Your feeling of purpose on this earth
Your relationship with strangers on the internet
Your beliefs about politics and leadership
Your ability to remain centered
Your coping mechanisms in a state of emergency or extreme stress
Your passions, hobbies and leisure time
Your personal growth and willingness to learn new things
Your ability to find joy in life on a regular basis
And the list goes on … What else can you add?
What Does Healthy Look Like For Me?
When you go through your list, it can be quite overwhelming to take inventory of the areas where dysfunction thrives. But here’s the thing to keep in mind: This journey is ongoing. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out. There’s always more work to be done, and that’s the way it should be.
The goal is not perfection. The goal is growth.
So, once you acknowledge that there are certain areas of your life that are causing undue stress or pain, it’s time to think about how to change that.
What do I want “healthy” to look like for me – not what other people tell you is healthy, or what you think healthy should be – but what actually feels healthy at this moment in time?
Go through that list again and pick out the top three areas of hidden dysfunction in your life.
Then find a sunny place to sit, pour yourself a drink, put on some good music, and start writing. For each of the three areas you picked, describe what healthy looks like for you. How do you feel in this healthy vision of the future? What do your boundaries look like? What will you do if they’re tested?
Lock in that vision, and start considering the changes you could make that will take you closer to a healthy space.
During this time of collective transformation, I’m turning my focus to relearning what’s healthy and normal for me and my kids. And I’ve realized that, in order to come through this current transformation of mine, I need to show myself more compassion than I ever have before.
My natural inclination has always been too critical of myself, so I’m focusing on being more empathetic toward myself and my journey. For me, that looks like identifying the behavioral shifts I need to make, while simultaneously showing myself love and patience in the process.
What does it look like for you?
Share With Us!
Where are you accepting dysfunction, and how will you change that? How can you invite more self-compassion into your life?
Share with us! We would love to know!
Your story is so important.
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