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Individuation from Family of Origin

Families build their own systems with customs, values, beliefs, implicit and explicit rules, as well as, perceived acceptable/unacceptable behaviors. We develop within this culture, adapt to, as well as, adopt these family system dynamics. When we leave our family of origin and enter the world, we often respond to the world through the lens of our family belief systems. At times, this lens can be limiting in perspective or trigger painful, unresolved issues.

Individuation from your family of origin is vital in connecting with your true Self and to establish a healthy connection with your family of origin with clear boundaries. Individuation, also known as differentiation, is the process of growing into your own being. It is the psychological, emotional, and physical process of being an individual that is comfortable enough to distinguish oneself from family of origin to create a new family environment, while being able to respectfully hold (not necessarily adapt as your own) differences of beliefs, values, and customs. To individuate is to allow the freedom for your own individual existence, separate from the belief systems you disagree with and enmeshment/fusion within your family of origin (if you can’t tell where you end and where some else begins, you are enmeshed). Individuation from family of origin allows an individual to break unhealthy familial cycles or behaviors passed down through generations (such as anxiety, depression, core beliefs, violence, addiction, abuse, and over-attachment). Carl Jung believed individuation to be the process by which the wholeness of the individual is established through the integration of consciousness and the collective unconscious…in other words, moving closer to self-actualization to connect with yourself holistically, as opposed to only through the lens of your family of origin.

Family rules can interfere with a person’s ability to individuate and freely create their own nuclear family environment. This can happen particularly during times of change and transition, where families fight to maintain power and control over individuals that are questioning family behavior or family rules that are proving hurtful or alienating. To understand our present and build our future, we must first understand our familial past. Trauma, addiction, and maladaptive patterns can be passed down through generations when these cycles are not broken. If you are struggling with current relationships in your life that appear to be repetitive patterns, understanding your primary relationships within your family of origin can help make sense of things and create empowerment and centeredness for you as you begin to individuate from them.

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