Research involving chemically dependent or emotionally repressed individuals and their families has determined that certain behavior characteristics are common in adult children from these homes. The behaviors reveal an underlying structure of disorder that was damaging to those involved. Although the general population demonstrates many of the behaviors, individuals from dysfunctional families tend to have a higher incidence of these characteristics. The following are intended to help you identify whether or not these are areas of your life in which dysfunctional behavior characteristics are evident.
1. We had feelings of low self-esteem that caused us to judge others and ourselves without mercy.
2. We tried to cover up or compensate for the pain by being caretaking, controlling, contemptuous and gossipy.
3. We tended to isolate ourselves and to feel uneasy around other people, especially authority figures.
4. We were approval seekers and did anything to make people like us. We were extremely loyal even in the face of evidence that indicates loyalty was undeserved.
5. Angry people and personal criticism intimidated us. This caused us to feel anxious and overly sensitive.
6. We habitually chose to have relationships with emotionally unavailable people with addictive personalities. We were usually less attracted to healthy, caring people.
7. We lived life as victims and were attracted to other victims in our love and friendship relationships. We confused love with pity and tended to “love” people we could pity and rescue.
8. We were either super-responsible or super-irresponsible. We tried to solve others’ problems or expected others to be responsible for us. This enabled us to avoid looking closely at our own behavior.
9. We felt guilty when we stood up for ourselves or acted assertively. We gave in to others instead of taking care of ourselves.
10. We denied, minimized or repressed our feelings from our traumatic childhood. We lost the ability to express our feelings and were unaware of the impact this had on our lives.
11. We were dependent personalities who were terrified of rejection or abandonment. We tended to stay in jobs or relationships that were harmful to us. Our fears either stopped us from ending hurtful relationships or prevented us from entering into healthy, rewarding ones.
12. Denial, isolation, control and misplaced guilt are symptoms of family dysfunction. As a result of these behaviors, we felt hopeless and helpless.
13. We had difficulty with intimate relationships. We felt insecure and lacked trust in others. We didn’t have clearly defined boundaries and became enmeshed with our partner’s needs and emotions.
14. We had difficulty following projects through from beginning to end.
15. We had a strong need to be in control. We over-reacted to change over which we have no control.