The model of therapy that I use conceptualizes all human problems using one lens. It postulates that our problems (emotional and physical) arise due to a reduced capacity to balance both togetherness and individuality in relationships. For example, in many couple relationships, each member tends to lose his/her 'sense of self' over time; two individuals who originally came together as independent beings seem to have become "one person". Since it does not feel comfortable to be "fused" in this manner with another person, such situations eventually may cause strain and create a need for both members to pull apart drastically (either as divorce or emotional distancing etc.). This discomfort is also related to individual mental and physical health symptoms.
When parents struggle to find the balance between individuality and togetherness, they tend to engage in "fusion" with one or more of their children too. Thus, the parent views the child as an extension of himself/herself and unintentionally, imposes expectations that the child think and feel similarly to the parent. As this child grows old and tries to establish an individual self, any deviation from the expectation of being "like his/her parent" is dealt with negatively. Thus, the child grows up into an adult who struggles with balancing individuality and togetherness in relationships and the cycle continues on to the next generation....One way to break this cycle is for us to allow our children to be unique and different from us. This does not mean agreeing with everything they say/do. It means encouraging them to have a voice with us without fearing shame, ridicule or other negativity.
In order to work towards finding the balance between individuality and togetherness, we can begin by first trying to find ourselves; this means learning to value who we were/are and speaking up for what we think and feel without fear. It also means accepting that we are not perfect and that most mistakes are not life-threatening :)
Contrary to what many believe, pursuing self-growth tends to foster increased connection in our relationships rather than create distances.
Sujata V, Ph.D, MFT
Always Learning..through the good AND not-so-good times!